We examine why the Sacramento Kings should consider moving on from Vlade Divac.
The Sacramento Kings are shifting their focus squarely on the NBA season restart as a playoff push in Orlando begins.
While the team has an opportunity (slight as it may be) to earn their first postseason appearance since the 2005-2006 season, it is important for the Kings to also be mindful of the future of their up-and-coming franchise.
While the team’s performance during the newly restarted season could have an impact on this decision, it is clear that the future of the Kings will be tied to these leadership decisions.
Walton has been proficient in his first season in Sacramento. The team currently holds a 28-36 record despite suffering injuries to several key players throughout the year. While tension with players like Buddy Hield will need to be resolved, he has earned a second season as head coach.
Divac’s case is a bit more complicated. The former All-Star center and Sacramento standout assumed a major role in the Kings front office in August of 2015.
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Since that time, Divac’s tenure with the team has had its share of ups and downs. Is a partnership between the two parties in the franchises’ best interest moving forward? Let’s take a look:
The hits of Vlade Divac’s Sacramento Kings career
To Divac’s credit, the team has taken several encouraging steps under his watch. This climaxed with a 39-43 record (their best since 2006) while earning the ninth-best record in the Western Conference in 2019.
While this accomplishment would hardly be considered a positive for the league’s best franchises, it was an encouraging sign for a Sacramento team that has struggled in mediocrity for over a decade.
Divac’s team also finds themselves as one of the 22 teams who received an invitation to participate in the revamped 2020 NBA season.
While Vegas currently has the team’s title odds at a staggering +200,000 their inclusion is certainly a positive sign. It will be tremendously valuable for their young core to obtain experience playing in meaningful games.
Additionally, the team had managed to land a handful of talented players via the draft and transaction market. Divac’s biggest victory in the draft came when he selected point guard De’Aaron Fox in 2017.
The speedy floor general gave the team a truly dangerous transition weapon and team leader. He also oversaw a trade that sent Marquese Chriss to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Bogdan Bogdanovic in 2016. Time has proven this to be a phenomenal move.
The team has also added solid players such as Harrison Barnes and Hield. However, both players came at a very high price. He also found two recent hidden gems in Nemanja Bjelica and Richaun Holmes.
The misses of Vlade Divac’s Sacramento Kings career
Unfortunately for Divac, his misses far outweigh his victories. The fact that he is working in a smaller market, and without the benefit of great players must be taken under consideration.
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However, the team’s average of 31.8 wins and 46.6 losses per season during the past five years can hardly be considered a success.
Furthermore, Sacramento has also had a number of gaffes over the last half-decade. His draft history has also been suspect. The team drafted Willie Cauley-Stein with the sixth overall pick in 2015 and Zach Collins 10th overall in 2017.
Both players can accurately be labeled busts considering their high draft status. Both are also no longer with the franchise.
He also reached for a largely unknown prospect named Georgios Papagiannis with the 13th pick in 2016. This move drew public criticism from superstar DeMarcus Cousins.
Perhaps most frustrating is the team’s selection of Marvin Bagley with the second overall pick in 2018. While Bagley may still develop into a good frontcourt player, the team passed on two transcendent talents in Luka Doncic and Trae Young in order to select the Duke center.
Both Doncic and Young have been selected to All-Star teams and have instantly changed the fate of their franchises. Either would have been a game-changer in Sacramento.
Divac’s handling of the Cousins trade to the New Orleans Pelicans also drew universal criticism. Considering the All-Star’s recent stretch of injuries was unpredictable, history has proven the Kings were not able to get fair value in return.
The dust settled to reveal that Sacramento traded a four-time All-Star for a collection including Buddy Hield (now a bench player), Tyreke Evans (out of the league), Langston Galloway (now a member of the Pistons), Justin Jackson and Harry Giles (both bench players).
While Divac has helped the team add young talent as they attempt to rebuild themselves into a contender, there is also a great deal of evidence to suggest that the current general manager may not be the team’s best option moving forward.
The decision to make a change relies heavily on the options that are available. However, if the team is able to find a proven GM candidate with a healthy track record, I believe that they should cut ties with Divac in hopes of boosting their rebuild into the future.
How do you feel about Divac as the general manager in Sacramento?