Brandon Williams brings survivalist's mindset to Kings: 'I smell the game'


Brandon Williams brings survivalist's mindset to Kings: 'I smell the game'

SACRAMENTO -- The Scott Perry era in Sacramento lasted all of five minutes, but the veteran NBA exec left a mark on the Kings franchise. His connections helped land top tier talent during draft season and he played a role in the free agent class that included high-end veterans George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter.

Perry left for the Big Apple after just three months on the job, creating a need in the Kings’ front office. With a clear understanding of what type of piece the team needed to add, Vlade Divac and his group looked for a versatile executive to fill the huge shoes left by Perry.

On Sunday afternoon, up and comer Brandon Williams filled the vacancy on the staff when he was announced as the team’s new Assistant General Manager.

“We are so excited that Brandon is joining our front office team,” said Divac in the team’s official press release. “He is an experienced and talented basketball executive. His knowledge of player development and basketball operations combined with his legal skills will be a strong addition to our team.”

He’s not a flashy name outside of NBA circles. As a player, Williams played just 18 games in the league over three seasons for three different teams. He spent another handful of years in the minor leagues and in Europe before changing paths.

“I had a very nomadic, hobo type of career,” Williams told NBC Sports California Monday via phone. “I do remember a visit into Arco Arena and experiencing Sacramento fans. You never forget that.”

As for his role in Sacramento, Williams is looking to fill the gaps missing in the Kings front office. He’ll work alongside Divac, Ken Catanella, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bratz and Luke Bornn.

“I’m coming in to work for Vlade, first and foremost, to be a partner and be a support,” Williams said. “I’m really excited about his leadership.”

As an executive, the 42-year-old Davidson grad worked his way through the league office before joining the Philadelphia 76ers staff four years ago. He was the Director of NBA Player Development from 2005-07 before taking the role of Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA from 2007-13.

In addition to his experience as a player and league exec, Williams also holds a law degree from Rutgers University. He understands the scouting, business and contractual sides of the NBA.

“I think across all personnel, all day-to-day basketball operations matters, I’ll be there to be one of his hands - whether it’s right or left, I’m here to be his deputy,” Williams said of his role under Divac with the Kings.

From the diverse team that Divac has assembled to a flock of young players to the new Golden 1 Center, Williams said there was a lot to be excited about in Sacramento.

Williams hopes to take his experience as a player that spent years trying to earn his way into the league to counsel the Kings’ young core. He’ll look to build relationships and trust with the players as the team continues to rebuild its culture.

“I didn’t have the experience of being a first round pick, I was undrafted and I didn’t have a multi-year contract,” Williams said of his time as a player. “But the mindset that I had to have in order to survive in order to have any kind of career, was one that I was going to fight for my career everyday.”

Like Divac, Williams walks in with the knowledge that the Kings rebuild will require patience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint when you open a season with 10 players with two years of NBA experience or less.

“We’re looking at this long-term, not short-term,” Williams said. “We want to be able to do great things. There are no short cuts to the top. There are shortcuts to the middle, but there are no shortcuts to the top. If we not only want to be a good team, but be a good team for a long time, we’ll take our time and make sure that we’re built on the right foundational, cultural pieces.”

With Perry’s departure, the Kings were in need of a jack-of-all-trades type in the front office. There is a hope around the team that Williams will provide the support that Divac and the rest of the front office needs as the franchise looks to build a foundation from the ground up.

“I’m a basketball man, I spent my entire life playing and sort of graduating,” Williams said. “When you’ve been a basketball person to start, I don’t think that ever leaves you. I see the game. I smell the game. I feel the game. And I relate with our players and coaches because it’s sort of my first language.”

Williams is in transition to Sacramento and hopes to be in town full-time very soon. With training camp still more than a month away, the Kings have plenty of time to integrate their newest front office member.

Fatigue a factor as Kings fall to Raptors


Fatigue a factor as Kings fall to Raptors

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings are young and energetic, but they are still learning how to play a full 48 minutes. Against a veteran team like the Raptors, that’s not going to work.

The Kings came out of the gate slow, allowing the Raptors to score the first 13 points of the afternoon. After the second unit fought their way back into the game to take a 29-28 lead, Sacramento once again let up, falling behind 54-48 at the half.

Sacramento made runs at Toronto, but they never got closer that seven points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors pulled away for the 102-87 victory.

There are plenty of reasons for the team’s inconsistent effort. It doesn’t matter who Dave Joerger drops into the starting lineup, they tend to flounder.

De’Aaron Fox started alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic in the backcourt and struggled against veteran Kyle Lowry. The rookie began the game 0-for-4 before hitting 3-of-4 in the fourth quarter. In addition to the shooting woes, Fox turned the ball over a career-high seven times, including six in the first half.

“It’s frustrating - we all have those games, but (we) just have to get back into practice, focus on taking care of the ball and just look forward to playing Phoenix the next game,” Fox said.

Joerger pointed to the Kings’ heavy travel schedule early as a possible culprit for the sloppy ball handling.

“Sometimes that can be general fatigue,” Joerger said. “You know, traveling around, flying around, playing a bunch of games and you’re only [a] 19-year-old.”

Fellow rookie point guard Frank Mason III struggled as well. Mason didn’t turn the ball over, but he shot just 1-of-10 from the field to finish the afternoon with six points and three assists.

Buddy Hield has been electric for Sacramento since moving to the second unit. He started the game hot, hitting his first six shots. But when the Raptors tightened up the defense, Hield not only missed shots, but he made mistakes.

Hield finished the night 7-of-13 from the field, but he turned the ball over six times as he forced the action.

It was a learning experience for the young Kings. The Raptors have posted 48 wins or more four straight seasons. They currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference and there is little doubt that they’ll make a fifth straight playoff appearance.

Lowry, along with fellow veterans DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka combined to score 60 of the Raptors 102 points. When they needed a shot to put the Kings away, they got it.

With the loss, Sacramento dropped to 8-18 on the season. They’ll return to Golden 1 Center Tuesday to face the Phoenix Suns and it sounds like they should have Willie Cauley-Stein back after the big man missed the previous three games with a lower back strain.


Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going


Gameday: Kings look to keep impressive streak against Raptors going

For a young team like the Sacramento Kings, a 2-2 road trip is a huge success. An overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday has the Kings at 7-9 over their last 16 games, which is a big improvement over their 1-8 start to the season. They’ll host another quality playoff team in the Toronto Raptors for a Sunday matinee.

Zach Randolph is earning his $12.5 million this season. The 36-year-old big matched DeMarcus Cousins blow-for-blow in New Orleans, finishing with a season-high 35 points. He’s averaging 25 points and almost 11 rebounds per game over his previous four games. Dave Joerger received plenty of help from the young core, but without Z-Bo, the Kings would be stuck in reverse.

Toronto is in game two of a four-game road trip. They’ve won five straight and nine of their previous 11. Guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry continue to pace a Raptors team that currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference.

Raptors by 7

Garrett Temple vs. DeMar DeRozan -- Temple usually guards the toughest perimeter scorer for Sacramento and he’ll face a high-end wing on Sunday. DeRozan’s scoring is down nearly four points per game from his career-best 27.3 last seasons. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he can take you off the dribble and he lives in the mid-range. If Temple can limit DeRozan, the Kings have a shot to make it five in a row against the Raptors.  

Kings: 8-17, fifth place in Pacific

Raptors: 16-7, second place in Atlantic

Kings: G George Hill (personal reasons( is out, C Willie Cauley-Stein (lower back strain) status unknown, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out until January. Justin Jackson, Malachi Richardson and Skal Labissiere were recalled from the Reno Bighorns on Saturday.

Raptors: C Lucas Nogueira (calf) out, G Delon Wright (shoulder) out.

The Kings swept the season series over the Raptors last season and have a four-game win streak against the perennial playoff contender. Sacramento holds a 26-15 lead in the all-time series between these two clubs.  

Labissiere a Changed Man? -- The Kings shocked everyone when they sent Skal Labissiere to the Reno Bighorns earlier this week. The second-year big took the demotion in stride, averaging 28 points, 15.5 rebounds, five blocks and two assists in 35 minutes a night against G-League team competition. Sacramento is hoping the 21-year-old found some confidence with extended minutes.    

Give Z-Bo a Break -- At 36, Randolph is showing no signs of slowing on the offensive end. But if the Kings’ fleet of bigs don’t find a way to step up, the 17-year NBA veteran is going to wear down over time. A healthy Willie Cauley-Stein would help, but Labissiere and Kosta Koufos have the ability to take some of the pressure off as well.

More Frank Mason III -- Sacramento’s second-round pick is putting on a show since earning rotational minutes. Mason’s scored in double-figures in three straight and seven of his last 10 games. Joerger let him finish the overtime win in New Orleans and he made some of the biggest plays of the game.


“Where we’re from, bullies get bullied. In my hood, bullies get bullied.” -Zach Randolph to DeMarcus Cousins in the Kings’ overtime win over the Pelicans