Why Kings' Vlade Divac's Hall of Fame enshrinement is long overdue


Why Kings' Vlade Divac's Hall of Fame enshrinement is long overdue

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's International Committee has finally come to their senses. Sacramento Kings legend and current general manager Vlade Divac will be inducted for his contributions to the game of basketball.

Divac was part of a massive influx of European talent during the late 1980’s and early 90’s. Drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 26th overall selection in the 1989 NBA Draft, he helped set the stage for the league's modern era.

A passing and ball-handling big with a flare for the dramatic, Divac was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie first-team in 1989 when he played 82 games for a 63-win Los Angeles team.

In 1996, the Lakers traded Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for the draft rights to a high-school star named Kobe Bryant. Divac spent the next two seasons playing for the Hornets before joining the Kings as a free agent during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.

Divac helped revitalize basketball in Sacramento. He was the glue that helped bond a talented Kings group who strung together an incredible run under coach Rick Adelman. Divac made his lone All-Star appearance during the 2000-01 season, and helped lead the Kings to the Western Conference Finals during the 2001-02 season.

The Serbian-born 7-footer is one of just seven players in NBA history to record more than 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocks. The other seven players are either in the Hall of Fame, or likely will be heading there when they become eligible.

Divac concluded his 14-year NBA career following the 2004-05 season. He averaged 11.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists over 1,134 regular season games.

While his NBA totals are very good, they only tell a small portion of Divac’s impact on the sport.

As a teenager, Divac joined a talented group of young stars on the Yugoslavian National team in 1988. Prior to the split of Yugoslavia, Divac, along with Dino Radja, Toni Kukoc, Drazen Petrovic and Zarko Paspalj, took the international stage by storm.

“It was a great group of guys that each other better,” Divac told ESPN on Saturday following the announcement. “A lot of those guys made it to the NBA.”

Yugoslavia made it all the way to the gold medal game in Seoul, Korea, before falling to Arvydas Sabonis, Sarunas Marciulionis and their Soviet Union teammates by a final of 76-63. This was only the beginning for this squad.

Over his time playing for either the Yugoslavian or Serbian national teams, Divac took home EuroBasket gold medals in 1989, 1991 and 1995, as well as gold medals at the FIBA World Championship in 1990 and 2002.

Divac’s play in the 1988 Olympics helped land him a job in the NBA. He was part of a foursome of European players -- including Paspalj, Marciulionis and Alexander Volkov -- who cracked into the league during the 1989-90 season and helped pave the way for a massive influx of players from overseas.

“We kind of opened the door for the international guys, now we have more than 25 percent international guys in the league,” Divac said. “We are very proud of our roots, but also basketball is a world sport and we are so happy that we have an impact on it.”

In addition to his accolades on the court, Divac spent eight years (2009-2016) as the President of the Serbian Olympic Committee, and his humanitarian work is legendary.

According to the Kings’ official press release:

“In 2000, Divac became the first foreign-born winner of the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, recognizing his service and dedication to the community. Together with his wife Ana, Divac founded the Ana and Vlade Divac Foundation in 2007 to help refugees address housing needs, raising over $20 million and securing assistance for over 700,000 people. The Foundation is a continuation of their 30 years of humanitarian work, which began in the US with the Humanitarian Organization Divac.”

Divac rejoined the Kings 2015 as an executive and currently holds the role of General Manager. He’s helped rebuild the franchise over the last four years and with 39 wins coming onto Sunday, they have their best season since the 2005-06 season.

[RELATED: Ex-Kings coach Westphal makes Basketball Hall's 2019 class]

The 51-year-old big 7-footer turned to Twitter on Saturday morning to extend his gratitude towards everyone who helped make this possible.

Plenty of his former teammates and associates from around the league chimed in as well.

Kings set regular-season roster by waiving Tyler Ulis, Hollis Thompson


Kings set regular-season roster by waiving Tyler Ulis, Hollis Thompson

SACRAMENTO -- The drama is over and the Kings’ roster is now set at 15, along with a pair of two-way players.

According to the team, both Tyler Ulis and Hollis Thompson have been waived, bring the team’s roster down to the league maximum before the Oct. 21 2 p.m. PST deadline.

After a promising start to his career with the Phoenix Suns, Ulis struggled with hip injuries last season and then spent most of training camp on the sidelines with a groin injury.

The Kings are hoping he can get his career back on the right track and barring a waiver claim, they expect the 23-year-old point guard to join the team’s G League affiliate in Stockton.

The former Kentucky product has averaged 7.5 points, 4.0 assists, 0.9 steals and 20.9 minutes per game in 133 career games over three seasons with the Suns and Bulls.

Thompson was a late add to the roster. He played for the Kings during the California Classic, and like Ulis, he is likely headed to Stockton for the upcoming season.

The 28-year-old forward has seen action in 265 NBA games over his career, posting 7.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in over 6400 minutes of action. His G League rights were acquired by Stockton for a first-round selection over the summer.

A surprise addition to the roster is Tyler Lydon. The 6-foot-10 forward has played in just 25 NBA games since being selected with the 24th overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. He was limited in camp due to a hip injury and played just one eight minute stretch for the team.

The former Syracuse Orangeman spent time in the G League in each of the last two seasons and is likely headed to Stockton once he’s healthy.

General manager Vlade Divac has until Monday to finalize the roster, but here is how it looks as of Sunday afternoon.

[RELATED: How Siakam contract impacts Hield]

Unofficial 2019-20 Sacramento Kings roster:

De'Aaron Fox
Cory Joseph
Yogi Ferrell
Buddy Hield
Bogdan Bogdanovic
Justin James
Harrison Barnes
Trevor Ariza
Marvin Bagley
Nemanja Bjelica
Tyler Lydon
Dewayne Dedmon
Richaun Holmes
Harry Giles
Caleb Swanigan

Two-Way Players

Wenyen Gabriel
Kyle Guy

How Buddy Hield-Kings situation is impacted by Pascal Siakam contract


How Buddy Hield-Kings situation is impacted by Pascal Siakam contract

The Toronto Raptors made a huge commitment to power forward Pascal Siakam on Saturday morning, locking up the 25-year-old big on a four-year, $130 million max money contract. 

Taken with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Siakam is just the fourth first-round pick from the 2016 class to garner an extension.

That’s a lot of money for a player who worked his way through the G League to become an NBA champion, although it’s well deserved. Siakam was an integral part of the Raptors squad, and with Kawhi Leonard bolting for the Clippers in free agency, he is now the centerpiece of Toronto’s title defense.

The Raptors have their man, but what does this mean for Buddy Hield, another 2016 alum, and the Sacramento Kings team he has been playing hardball with over the last two weeks?

Hield has made it his mission to get an extension before the clock strikes 2 p.m. PT on Oct. 21. He wants a four-year, $110 million contract, which he has been aggressive in trying to obtain. He has even taken a step or two out of bounds while trying to plead his case.

When Siakam’s deal was announced, Hield’s camp likely gave a silent fist pump. Another of Hield’s class got paid handsomely for his skills as a basketball player. But when the dust settles, Toronto’s decision might not be in Hield’s favor.

Sure, Siakam got a truckload of cash. That is what Hield is looking for, which he made sure general manager Vlade Divac understood Saturday afternoon at the team’s Fan Fest.

But the reality of Hield’s situation might begin to sink in very soon. Sacramento holds all the cards with regards to the restricted free agent. The Kings are setting their price now, and next summer might not hold any relief for Hield and his negotiating team.

With Toronto paying out Siakam, there are now just four teams with $20 million or more to offer next summer. That number could adjust slightly at the trade deadline, but it could also shrink, especially if the situation in China becomes more of an issue for the NBA.

If Hield is looking at the group of teams with money, Memphis, Atlanta, Charlotte and Cleveland are it. If that is what he wants, he’s taking a substantial step back when it comes to the win column, and that is if one of those teams deems him worthy of a long-term contract offer.

Maybe money is more important than wins, but that is not what the Bahamian-born shooter has spent the last two seasons promoting.

If he decides to hit the free-agent market, he’ll do so with the understanding that the Kings can (and in all likelihood will) match any offer. They’ll also likely get a discount, because any offer comes with a 5 percent raise, instead of the 8 percent that Sacramento can offer. 

Divac is willing to sit down at the table, but he’s playing with a royal flush, and he knows it. He would prefer an amicable conclusion to what has become a debacle. He would prefer to finish this saga by hugging Hield and welcoming him back into the fray with no hurt feelings.

Hield has an out. He can just play out this season and the 2020-21 campaign as well under a $6.5 million qualifying offer. He would then become an unrestricted free agent and the Kings would no longer have a hold over him, outside of his Larry Bird rights.

Hield would also give up anywhere from $16 to 21 million in salary during the 2020-21 season and enter free agency as a 28-, going on 29-year-old free agent. The chance of him recouping his lost wages would be minimal at best, but he could write his own ticket.

[RELATED: Lillard not a fan of Hield's negotiating tactics]

Siakam is a feel-good story. Hield could be as well. Like Siakam, he has made himself into a bonafide player in the NBA by working hard and finding his niche. But finding common ground with the Kings, instead of practicing a scorched-earth policy, might be his path to salvation.

In a Kings season focused on snapping a 13-year playoff drought, Hield’s situation is quickly becoming an unwanted distraction. There is still a chance for an amicable resolution. There is also a chance that he is creating a toxic situation. 

The two sides have a little over 24 hours to work things out. If not, this could drag on into the season and potentially beyond. There is common ground somewhere, and someone needs to find it quickly.