Luke Walton only signed on to be the head coach of the Sacramento Kings last summer, but his first season has been so discouraging that a majority of fans are ready for his tenure to end. They’re also ready to move on from the man that hired him: Vlade Divac.
Following a successful 39-win 2018-19 campaign, Divac signed a four-year extension to remain with the Kings. Shortly after signing his new contract last summer, Divac made the decision to let go of Dave Joerger and replace him with Walton. Thus far, that decision hasn’t aged well, nor has his decision to take Marvin Bagley III over Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft.
In February, it seemed like Kings owner Vivek Ranadive was near his tipping point with both Divac and Walton, but the run they went on after the All-Star break may have saved their jobs, according to a report by Sam Amick of The Athletic on Tuesday:
All that improvement, it appears, lowered the temperature on the hot seats of both Walton and general manager Vlade Divac. As we reported on Feb. 12, owner Vivek Ranadive had made his frustrations known with both the front office and coaching staff during the Kings’ 15-29 start. Questions arose about whether he might be compelled to make changes in the offseason, but sources say Divac and Walton appear very likely to remain (their contracts run through the 2022-23 season).
Here’s the thing: whether the Kings showed improvement in the second half of the season or not, the likelihood of Divac or Walton going anywhere was slim. Both Divac and Walton signed contracts just last summer, so firing them less than a year later would be a bad look on Ranadive, and replacing them would only add to his seemingly sunk cost.
If Divac and Walton do indeed make it through the summer, the Kings will go into the offseason with the mindset that Walton will be their head coach for the foreseeable future. That means the Kings will sign players who fit Walton’s offensive system (whatever that is, exactly), and potentially swap players that don’t fit into Walton’s plans like Buddy Hield, who was moved to bench in favor of Bogdan Bogdanovic in January. With Bogdanovic due for a new contract of his own, the decision-makers that are in place could decide Hield is expendable.
They shouldn’t, but it’s entirely probable.
Whatever happens this offseason, there will still be a ton of questions about this team’s potential because of the positions Divac and Walton hold, which isn’t exactly what fans wanted to see a year removed from their best season since the 2005-06 season. If the Kings are on the cusp of making another leap, apparently no one knows it but Divac and Walton.