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.

Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away


Kings look to get healthy with opener just days away

SACRAMENTO - All hands on deck. The Sacramento Kings open the 2017-18 schedule Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets at Golden 1 Center and it looks like they might do so with a full arsenal of players at their disposal.

Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to practice on Sunday and then participated in the team’s annual Fanfest. If his dance moves are any indication, the 19-year-old’s back is feeling just fine.

Veteran George Hill tweaked his groin Friday against the Golden State Warriors, leaving his availability for opening night in question. Hill, 31, who has a history of groin injuries, was on the court Monday practicing and said he is ready to play.

“Everything is feeling good right now,” Hill said Monday following practice.

The only player who didn’t practice on Monday is rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic, who sprained his right ankle against the Warriors. According to head coach Dave Joerger,  the team is hopeful that the Serbian sharpshooter will return in time for Game 1.

“We’re still shooting for Wednesday for both of them,” Joerger said of Hill and Bogdanovic.

New look Rockets

The Rockets went 55-27 last season under head coach Mike D’Antoni, but that didn’t stop them from going all in during the offseason. With MVP runner-up James Harden already manning the backcourt, Houston added nine-time All-Star Chris Paul as their new starting point guard.

“Leadership, he’s a floor general,” Hill said about Paul. “Anywhere he goes, he’ll make a team better. We know they were already a good team without him, coming in with him is going to be a bigger task.”

It’s a new look roster and the expectations are huge for the Rockets. Houston averaged 115.3 points per game last season and led the league in both 3-point attempts and makes. This season, they also added two strong perimeter defenders in P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s a huge test coming out of the gate for Sacramento. Following the contest against the Rockets, the Kings hit the road for three straight before returning to Golden 1 next Thursday to face DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans.

Camp notes

With the season just around the corner, the Sacramento Kings made their final roster cuts on Sunday afternoon. David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn were waived, leaving the Kings with 15 rostered players and two two-way players in Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson.

Stockton, Jones and Hearn are all expected to join the Reno Bighorns of the NBA’s G-League.

Kings waive three players days before season opener


Kings waive three players days before season opener

SACRAMENTO The Sacramento Kings announced Sunday that the team has requested waivers on guards David Stockton, Matt Jones and Reggie Hearn.  

Stockton appeared in two contests for Sacramento during the preseason, averaging 11.5 points (9-13 FG, 3-4 3pt, 2-4 FT) and 5.0 assists in 16.3 minutes per game, including a game-high 23 points to accompany three rebounds, eight assists and two steals off the bench at Golden State (10/13).

Jones played in five exhibition games, posting 2.0 points, 1.0 rebounds and 11.7 minutes per contest. 

Hearn appeared in one preseason game. 

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