The Sacramento Kings were “basketball hell” long before Vivek Ranadive bought the team. Heck, their current playoff drought began before he bought the team.
But Ranadive has become synonymous with Sacramento’s problems.
The owner has churned through executives and coaches, overseeing a dysfunctional culture. Ranadive’s impatience, impulsiveness, outward frustration and wild ideas have only added pressure. As has the consistent losing, which, in a vicious cycle, is a product of these other problems.
Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee:
The source described a “toxic” work environment in which “people don’t trust each other” and “they are thirsty to get any advantage or any promotion they can.”
“People are not treated well,” he said. “They’re not valued. It’s a toxic workplace where there are some super-talented people who either move on or get let go for different reasons. It’s unfortunate because I think people come with really pure intentions and want to turn it around.”
Vlade Divac served as general manager from March 2015 to August 2020, but at various times his power was usurped by special advisor Joe Dumars and assistant general managers Ken Catanella, Scott Perry and Brandon Williams, the source said.
Multiple sources told The Bee there is a sense that the dynamic has changed in Sacramento since the Kings hired current general manager Monte McNair to replace Divac in September 2020. One of the team’s minority owners said he believes McNair is calling the shots without interference. “I’ve looked people in the eye and said, ‘We know this has been a problem. Is it a problem today?’ They’re telling me it’s not,” he said. “Does Vivek have the right to approve trades or give his input? Yeah, but I don’t believe Vivek is micromanaging Monte. I believe Monte is in charge and has total control.”
Ranadive has been accused of “meddling,” but it’s ridiculous to believe the principle owner of a multi-billion-dollar company wouldn’t be involved in its operations. The real problem: Ranadive’s decision-making and organizing have been so poor – from whom he has hired to more micro choices. Ideally, an owner would hire good employees then position and empower them to succeed.
Maybe that’s finally closer to happening in Sacramento.
But just over a year ago, Ranadive – not Monte McNair – was reportedly the driving force behind the Kings keeping their veterans in another failed attempt to reach the postseason without fully rebuilding.
Even if Ranadive has ceded control to McNair, it’s unclear whether McNair will succeed with autonomy. The early returns during his tenure have been mixed.
Sacramento long ago lost benefit of the doubt. But it’s worth monitoring whether the dynamic there has actually improved.