Contract negotiations between former Kings general manager Vlade Divac and shooting guard Buddy Hield became contentious last season. In fact, there were a couple of moments when it started to get ugly.

Hield wanted to cash in on his breakout season and Divac was willing to work with him on a new deal, but within reason. Eventually Hield signed a four-year, $86 million contract extension with Sacramento with bonuses that can push that figure up by another $20 million or so, but damage was done.

Long-term security and a huge pay increase wasn’t enough for Hield. He was clear that he deserved more and Divac attempted to defuse the situation with his light-hearted jabs.

True to Divac’s previous years with the team, he assembled the talent and he allowed the coaching staff to distribute minutes and make decisions on rotations.

By mid-season, new head coach Luke Walton needed to shake things up and his first move was to remove Hield from the starting lineup for shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.

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Between the benching and some residual bad feelings about the contract negotiations, Hield struggled to keep his composure during media sessions before the NBA was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus.

When the season resumed, Hield struggled mightily in the restart. Following the Kings’ win over the Los Angeles Lakers to finish off the season, Hield was asked about his future with the team and he still couldn’t hide his displeasure.


“You’all know me, you’all know how I talk, you’all how I feel,” Hield told media members. “You’all can read me well, so I’ll let you answer that for yourselves.”

A lot of Hield’s frustration at this point is aimed at Walton and his decision to make the change in the lineup, but there are still some residual issues with Divac as well.

With Divac stepping down as the team’s general manager on Friday, those issues will now need to be taken up with intertim executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars and whoever he adds as his new management staff.

In an in depth interview with the Sacramento Bee, Divac addressed the Hield situation and didn't pull any punches.

“He didn’t like the role he was in,” Divac told Marcos Breton. “I support his feeling. But for Buddy Hield, he has to look in the mirror and see what he does right and what he does wrong. He’s an elite shooter in this league. But he has to provide that (more consistently). He has to do a better job defensively. It’s hard to win in this league.”

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Hield holds the NBA record for most 3-pointers through the first four years of his career and he was on pace to hit over 300 long range shots before the season was reduced to just 72 games.

But in the bubble, Hield didn’t look like himself. He forced the action, turned the ball over, struggled on defense and for long stretches, he sat on the bench.

With Hield about to enter year one of that mega-deal that will pay him over $25 million next season, the Kings have some difficult choices in front of them. One of those decisions hinges on whether Hield is a long term answer for the team or whether they should look to move him.

Dumars isn’t inheriting an easy situation, but this is the NBA. There are issues that he needs to address on day 1 and the Hield situation is on the top of that list.