SACRAMENTO -- Now that the 2015-16 Sacramento Kings season is nothing more than an 11-game exercise in futility, the real work begins for Vlade Divac and his team. So many decisions have to be made and there is so little time to accomplish everything. One misstep can set the franchise back years. One home run may be able to change the course of the team’s future.
The Kings need a plan and a good one at that. It shouldn’t be crowd sourced. Grantland (RIP) can’t be allowed in the building to film the drama. The blueprint should be simple and basic and singular in focus. It should mirror what most franchises in the NBA follow with very little deviation.
The list is long but there is a pretty clear chronological order to it all. First front office staff, then coaching search, then decision on Cousins followed by the draft and then free agency. All of this building to a move into a brand new arena in downtown Sacramento.
What lies ahead over the next few months is scary. And if Divac is the man making these decisions, he has to have the freedom and the backing to do it his way.
[KINGS TALK: The Kings Insider Podcast: Episode 23 -- Doug Christie]
While folks on the outside will point to Divac’s inexperience and the mistakes he’s made in his first seven months on the job, there are still a lot of Vlade fans out there.
Divac’s former teammate and current CSN Bay Area analyst Doug Christie joined the CSN Kings Insider Podcast this week to discuss a variety of topics. Divac’s name came up plenty and like he did in their playing days, Christie had his friends back.
“The Kings have hired coach and general manager opposite a few times and things haven’t ran as smoothly as they would like,” Christie said. “But with Vlade at the helm, I am truly confident that all of that will play out well.”
Under owner Vivek Ranadivé, the Kings hired coach Michael Malone first and then general manager Pete D’Alessandro. Things went south before Malone could even get through his second summer on the job and by December he was let go. Tyrone Corbin was given an interim title and then given the head coaching job, only to go 7-21 and get the ax as well.
Despite being on his way out, D’Alessandro was allowed to perpetuate the cycle when he added George Karl late in the 2014-15 season. D’Alessandro was soon stripped of his power and eventually left for Denver, leaving Divac with a coach he didn’t hire with more than a $10 million balanced owed.
“I truly believe so,” Christie said when asked whether Divac was the right guy to fix the Kings’ current mess. “Out of any and all of my teammates that I’ve ever had, he is the only one I would trust in the position that he has right now.”
“He is a really good people person,” Christie added. “And he understands how to deal with different personalities and different people, which in his job is truly-truly highly important. I think given the time, he’ll do a fantastic job.”
The Kings have struggled with patience. Since Rick Adelman left following the 2005-2006 season, they have run through seven head coaches and it is expected that Karl will become number eight as soon as the season ends.
D'Alessandro was given just over two seasons to exact change before leaving. Divac is going to need more than that if he hopes to revitalize the franchise that he helped led to the 2002 Western Conference Finals as a player.
Christie hopes to see the Kings establish a system that will focus on Cousins as the team’s centerpiece going forward. He isn’t ready to bail on the 25-year-old center just yet.
“I am a DeMarcus Cousins fan,” Christie said. “I believe that he is the best big man in basketball.”
That sentiment is shared with plenty around the league. One national publication listed Cousins as a first-team All-NBA selection, placing him alongside Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and LeBron James as one of the best five in the game today.
“I think that you put a system around him that uses his tremendous skill set,” Christie said. “Because ultimately, if you do go look for somebody else, you’re going to be looking for a guy just like the guy you got. You’ve got him, now you’ve just got to learn how to use him. You’ve just got to put a support system around him and allows his greatest strengths to really shine.”
Christie is banking heavily on Divac and Cousins to return the Kings back to prominence. Whether he is right or not will be decided soon enough. With the off-season just weeks away expect a whirlwind of movement in Sacramento.
Maybe Christie will lace up his sneakers as a coach or mentor and put some sweat equity into the franchise he once starred for. He certainly has the passion for it and his good friend Vlade could use every able bodied person on deck.