Organizational Stability must now be the Kings number one goal

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Kings did what?

silent-scream

SACRAMENTO–An NBA organization that was already labeled “unstable” just became more unstable in the minds of owners, managers, coaches, players, agents and fans with the sudden and surprising trade of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. The trade came on the heels of Vlade Divac – vice president and general manager of the Kings – telling ESPN that his team was about to sign Cousins to a 5-year, $200-million plus deal.

Cousins appeared to be excited about the possibilities of staying in Sacramento long-term. Cousins told ESPN, “I’m very happy. It’s where I want to be. I think we’re on the right path this season. We’re playing the best basketball of the season so far. Our team is extremely confident. We believe we can make this push and make it happen. We’ve been preaching it all year. It’s on us to make it happen.”

At the All-Star Break, the Kings are just 1.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot behind the Denver Nuggets. Fans in Sacramento – who have not seen a playoff game in 10 long years – have been be anticipating a first-round match-up between the Kings and the Golden State Warriors. Kings fans hold no illusions about beating the Warriors but what a return to the playoffs that would be for the loyal supporters of the team.

Now, it’s shock and awe time for Sacramento fans once again. Cousins is gone and so are the playoffs. The team now has more shooting guards than any organization can use. Management’s credibility is totally destroyed around “the association”and that credibility was almost no existent before this fiasco. Remember last summer, top rated draft prospects would not even come to Sacramento for workouts.

The Kings need an experienced general manager

vlade-peja

The time has come to promote Vlade Divac to president of basketball operations and let him handle things at a 10,000 foot level while he learns the intricacies of running the day to day operations of an NBA team (see the Philadelphia transaction that the Kings came out on the short end of). An experienced GM could also groom Peja Stojakovic in the area of player development. By all reports, the Kings scouting department needs a boost as well.

Divac and Stojakovic are smart guys who have played the game at the highest level. Now, they need to learn how to manage the game at the highest level. It’s like when they were young players. They need guidance.

Sacramento can also help make a social impact in “the association”

troy-weaver
Troy Weaver Asst. GM OKC Thunder

While bringing in experienced management to help Divac and Stojakovic, the Kings could also be a part of making a major impact in the NBA. In a June 2016 article in The Undefeated, Marc Spears pointed out that there is “a distressing lack of black leadership in the NBA”. He also reference a 2015 survey that 74.4-percent of the players in “the association” were black while there was one African-American team president, two African-American general managers and one native African general manager among the 30 teams.

A prime time target for the Kings should be Oklahoma City Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver. Weaver – who is an African-American – has been interviewed for the top job by several teams but has never received the call. Weaver is known for his strong scouting abilities which the Kings need. As the story goes, he led the charge to take the chance on Russell Westbrook. As an assistant coach at Syracuse he helped to recruit Carmelo Anthony. Weaver has been an assistant coach and recruiter at the college level. He has been a scout and director of player personnel for the Utah Jazz as well working for the Thunder.

An experienced executive like Weaver would have to have real decision making power to lead and set the direction for the Kings. He would also need some time. Unfortunately, the Cousins transaction means a return to a dependence on newly drafted players to make an immediate impact for the team. That usually does not have positive results as rookies have to learn how to play in the league. Time is needed to develop a team while time without wins and trips to the playoffs is the enemy of marketing and ticket sales.

The team has made some solid decisions

joerger

Hiring Dave Joerger as head coach has been one of the best decisions the Kings have made in recent memory. After the turbulent rule of George Karl, Joerger has calmed the locker room, won the respect of the players (including the now departed DeMarcus Cousins) and worked hard on developing young talent (see the resurgence of Ben McLemore). Joerger has also been a master at making adjustments as he has lost players to injury. Now, he has to make an adjustment for the loss of an All-Star center and his regular double-double games.

The Kings number one priority must be establishing stability in the basketball operations. They have done a great job of doing that on the business side which is why the team has doubled in value to just over $1-billion. Now they must achieve excellence on the basketball court.

 

Cousins fined, apologizes and gets back to work

Sacramento Kings v Dallas Mavericks
photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Sacramento Kings came down hard on DeMarcus Cousins Tuesday for his outburst in the locker room with a Sacramento Bee columnist that was caught on video and presumably for the actions he has taken against the editor of the website Cowbell Kingdom. According to Marc Spears of ESPN/The Undefeated, the team fined Cousins $50-thousand.

The Kings management issued the following statement on Tuesday, “The Kings have a clear set of standards of conduct expected of our entire organization. As a result of negative interactions with certain members of the media that were not corrected after verbal warnings, we have decided to impose a substantial fine. If this behavior is repeated again we will be forced to consider further discipline.”

The Kings did not and we expect will not reveal the amount of the fine.

A statement from Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins released the following written statement before the game on Tuesday afternoon:

“There is a time, place and manner to say everything, and I chose the wrong ones. Like most people, I am fiercely protective of my friends and family, and I let my emotions get the best of me in this situation. I understand my actions were inexcusable and I commit to upholding the professional standards of the Kings and the NBA. I apologize to my teammates, fans and the Kings organization for my behavior and the ensuing distraction and look forward to moving on and focusing on basketball.”

Some may be critical that he issued the apology in written form and not publicly. A face the press apology may well have turned into a spectacle that would not have served either side well.

If there is any point of concern with Cousins apology from this reporter’s point of view, it is that it did not include Andy Furillo and Leo Beas in the list of people receiving apologies. Cousins did not need to apologize to me or the press corps in general but it would have been appropriate to have included the two reporters who had the target of the anger.

Why did the Kings act now?

The Kings in the past have taken a “hands off” approach toward their star big man. Why did they suddenly take such swift and decisive action in this case with Cousins?

First, there is the video evidence. The videos that have been displayed on the internet are not flattering and are not supportive to any type of explanation that Cousins might have wanted to make about his actions.

Second, some have suggested the presence of new blood in the front office has made a difference in the process. Ken Catanella was brought in during the offseason as assistant general manager to help Vlade Divac with the day-to-day operations of the team. He held a similar position with the Pistons and previously worked in the NBA Office of Labor Relations. He does not have the close ties that Divac and owner Vivek Ranadive have to Cousins.

It may be that a more independent and less emotional viewpoint led to more decisive action in this case.

cantella

Was a fine necessary?

I am not sure that a fine was the way to go in this situation. A suspension would certainly have been inappropriate. The solution here should not include harming the team’s performance on the floor and chances of success for the fans.

A commitment to some media training and an apology would really would have sufficed in this situation. The Kings probably felt the fine was needed to show the public that they were serious about the situation.

It is believed the NBA has strongly encouraged or mandated that Cousins receive some media training as well.

What to do with the money?

Fine money in all professional sports winds up in some charitable giving account. The most appropriate use of the money would be to evenly divide the money between the journalism departments of Sacramento State and UC Davis to be used for the furtherance of sports journalism education at both institutions.

Andy Furillo’s point of view

One of the people who had not been heard from was Sacramento Bee Reporter Andy Furillo. The Rise Guys from ESPN 1320 Radio in Sacramento made contact with Furillo in Chicago were he is vacationing for the holidays and you can hear his take on the situation by clicking on this link: http://media.espn1320.net/a/117859440/where-does-the-fallout-from-andy-s-article-come-from.htm

rise

Let’s move on

Hopefully, this is the end of what has been an unfortunate series of incidents involving the Kings, Cousins and the press. Now, it is time to put the focus back on the basketball court where it belongs.