SACRAMENTO -- Looking for stability in their front office, the Sacramento Kings inked Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager, Vlade Divac, to a new multi-year contract on Wednesday morning.
The 48-year-old Serbian played 16 seasons in the NBA, including six with the Kings. Divac was hired as the Kings director of Basketball and Franchise Operations in March of 2015. On August 31 of last year he was given the title of General Manager as well.
“I’m happy about it, but my commitment to the Sacramento organization goes back to my playing days here,” Divac said. “(I’m) grateful and happy to be part of the process of creating a winning franchise. I’m very confident in what we’ve done so far. We have good pieces to do that and moving forward, it’s going to be exciting for me.”
With an extremely busy summer ahead, which includes hiring more front office personnel and likely a search for a new head coach, the organization wanted to tie up Divac long term and allow him to put his stamp on the organization.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re creating a stable organization,” Divac said. “You can’t do everything overnight, but step-by-step we’re moving in the right direction.”
Divac already has a small staff around him, including long-time NBA executive Mike Bratz and former teammate Peja Stojakovic. But Divac is looking for another piece or two to fill out his staff.
“Just like creating a team, you have to create your front office and I’m open to discuss that with talented people around the league,” said Divac. “Yes, I’ve talked to some people and when I feel comfortable bring in somebody, you guys will know.”
Former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks was brought in for an interview last month, but nothing materialized. CSN California has confirmed reports that David Morway, who has worked in a variety of different front office roles with both the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks, has had conversations with the Kings as well.
Regardless of who the Kings bring on, Divac is slated to retain both of his titles as he continues to build a Kings franchise that will miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive campaign.
The expectations were high coming into the season, but with the Kings sitting at 29-45, Sacramento is heading towards the lottery once again.
“I do believe that we have talent, that we’ve got good assets here,” Divac said. “I’m not pleased with the results we’ve had this year, but it’s something that we have to talk about after the season and make good decisions moving forward.”
Divac’ first line of attack will be to evaluate head coach George Karl, whom he inherited when he accepted the job. The veteran coach has two years remaining on his four-year deal that he signed in February of last year. A decision on Karl’s fate is expected within a day or two of the team’s final game.
If Karl is relieved of his duties, as expected, or potentially reassigned to an advisory role, Divac will cast a wide search for the Kings’ next coach. But the job doesn’t end there.
During his first summer on the job, Divac reworked the Kings roster dramatically, signing nine new players. Unfortunately, the additions haven’t made the impact that the franchise was looking for.
“In terms of results, this team, with the talent we put together in the summertime should be in the playoffs,” Divac said. “We didn’t do it for some reason and after the season, we’ll sit down and find what was the problem and we’ll fix those things.”
Divac has major decisions to make on his roster, including whether to keep All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and build around him or begin anew.
“That’s a question for the summertime, after the season,” Divac said when asked whether Cousins would be a King next year. “We have to sit down - and not just DeMarcus, every single player we have to go through and evaluate and make the right decisions.”
The decision on Cousins will likely dictate the team’s stance on free agent point guard Rajon Rondo as well. If Cousins returns, the team will likely push to retain the four-time All-Star. If Cousins and his two remaining years on his contract are moved, re-signing Rondo makes little sense.
The Kings gambled on a one-year, $9.5 million rental of Rondo last summer, a move that has drawn mixed reviews. But the veteran leads the NBA in assists and he has played mentor to Cousins all season.
Rondo and seldom used big man Eric Moreland are the Kings’ only free agents this summer. In addition, a handful of players have the option to void the final year of their deals, including Caron Butler, Seth Curry, James Anderson and Quincy Acy.
Divac has his work cut out for him going forward, but after Wednesday’s press conference we now know that he is the one spearheading the decision making process going forward in Sacramento.