By Charlie O. Mallonee
When I posted this tweet, I expected to get some reaction but the reaction I received surprised me. Everyone thought I was joking and it was very funny. The only problem with that reaction is that I am not joking. I am very serious.
The Sacramento Kings are at a very critical juncture right now. They have traded away their one legitimate All-Star and flushed their chances to make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. They have for all practical purposes hit the reset button and are starting over in the basketball operations division.
The Kings in all probability will have two first-round draft picks and two second-round draft selections in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft which has been labeled “star-studded”. One of those first-round opportunities is going to be a lottery pick. The second first-round pick is expected to come in the “low teens”. Both selections bring the opportunity to add exceptional talent to the Kings roster.
Sacramento cannot afford to make a mistake with either pick. With the Cousins era over, the Kings must rebuild quickly to hold the interest of a long suffering fan base that will not have a great deal of patience for excuses about why a first-round draft pick did not work out. Kings fans are looking for results not excuses.
The Kings front office needs help and it needs it now. Enter Mitch Kupchak. I know his recent results have not been that impressive but if the reports are true, there are some explanations for those poor results. Kupchak may well have been handcuffed by an owner who thought he knew more about basketball personnel than he really does. The team’s governor Jeanie Buss spent several of those years concentrating on a bicoastal relationship with Phil Jackson.
Kupchak worked under the great Jerry West before taking over as general manager in Los Angeles in 2000. He is credited with leading the efforts that brought Shaq and Kobe to the Lakers. The team won four championships while he was in charge. The man knows how to run the front office of an NBA franchise.
There have been reports that other general managers have complained that they cannot get Divac on the phone. There is a style and art to being the head of basketball operations for an NBA team. Other general managers must be comfortable working with each other to make deals happen and most of those deals start with phone calls.
Kupchak could act as a mentor, confidant and friend to help Divac during what is going to be a high pressure period between now and the 2017 Draft. Kupchak could also go out on the road to college games, conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament to scout the top talent that will be available come June. Scouting has also been listed as a weakness for the Kings organization.
Basketball executives with 17 years of experience as an NBA general manager do not become available everyday. The Kings are in need of expert help right now and Kupchak is an expert. It is time for Vivek Ranadive to fire up the jet, fly to LA, open up the checkbook and hire a consultant to help take his franchise to the next level.