Winner, winner, chicken dinner! SacKings will pick second in NBA Draft

Photo: @NBADraftLottery

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The NBA Draft Lottery order was selected in Chicago on Tuesday night, and the big winners of the night were the Sacramento Kings. The Kings entered the evening slotted to pick seventh on draft night in June. The Kings finished the season tied with the Chicago Bulls but lost a coin toss so the Bulls owned the sixth selection pre-lottery draw.


The Kings had just an 18.3-percent chance of winding up in the Top-3 in the Draft Lottery. Those odds may have been helped a little because the team was represented by first-year point guard De’Aaron Fox who has been a positive force for Sacramento ever since his arrival in June of 2017 from the University of Kentucky.

The Kings moved into the Top-3 in the 2017 Draft Lottery back fell back to the number five pick because Philadelphia had the right to swap selections if the Sacramento pick was higher than the Sixers. With the number five selection, the Kings took De’Aaron Fox.

This good fortune becomes even more important because the Kings will not have a first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The 2019 first-round selection was dealt away early in the tenure of Vlade Divac’s administration of basketball operations. This makes the 2018 draft selection even more important than it would normally be because it has to count for two seasons.

Who will be the number two draft pick?

Photo: @LukaDoncic

Virtually every mock draft site has Luka Doncic going as the number two selection in the 2018 NBA Draft. He is an international player currently playing with Real Madrid of Spain originally from Slovenia. Doncic is a 6-foot-7 small forward/shooting guard who is capable of playing positionless basketball that has become so popular in the NBA today.

Doncic is just 19-years old and definitely plays older than his years. He is an outstanding assists player who also is a strong rebounder on offense and defense. Doncic is an above average scorer and shooter at the free throw line. He needs work on his three-point shooting percentage and his number of turnovers needs to be lower.

The Kings front office has two prominent members – Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic – who are Eastern Europeans and should be able to make Doncic feel comfortable in Sacramento. One of the Kings up and coming stars is former Euro star – Bogdan Bogdanovic –  who certainly understands the style of basketball Doncic has been playing and could help make the transition to the NBA.

It looks like a match made in heaven right? Well, wait just one minute. The Phoenix Suns believe that Doncic can play point guard in the NBA. That’s right. They think this 6-foot-7 budding superstar can play point guard in “the association” alongside their star shooting guard Devin Booker. If the Suns believe Doncic can play that role, he could become the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

If Doncic goes number one, who goes number two?


That would leave DeAndre Ayton from Arizona available for the number two pick. Ayton is a 7-foot-1, 250-pound center who has an NBA body. He scores in multiple ways and has even been developing a three-point shot. Ayton runs the floor well and is not afraid of contact. He has great hands and good footwork.

His weakness is his defense. Ayton tends to get caught flat-footed too many times. He needs to do a better job defending against the pick and roll – a staple of the NBA. He needs to be more consistent about contesting shots.

Ayton is going to be a star in the NBA.

The Suns are going to be under immense pressure to draft the Arizona product and keep him in Phoenix. However, the Suns may opt to pass and go with Doncic who may pay off with more long-term results for them.

Either way, the Kings cannot go wrong. They are going to be able to draft a player who is going to become a star in the NBA.

The Sacramento Kings need an executive like Chris Granger for Basketball Operations

This article first appeared on this site just after the NBA All-Star Game in February. In light of recent events, it seemed appropriate to post it again.

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento – The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday was overshadowed by the news that the Sacramento Kings had traded their All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for three guards and two draft picks in the 2017 draft. The trade stunned Kings fans who had placed all of their hopes for success on Cousins for the past seven  years.

In a news conference on Monday, vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac revealed that Kings missed out on a better trade for Cousins two days earlier after it was pulled off the table. A franchise that has been viewed as unstable and without direction looked even more so after that revelation.

messy office 2

In the 2016 off-season, free agents and top draft prospects refused to come to Sacramento for workouts. The events of the past 48 hours have done nothing to improve that situation for the upcoming free agent period and 2017 NBA Draft which has been labeled as being “star-studded”.

The Kings are in desperate need of an basketball operations executive who can set a direction, develop realistic goals and establish stability for the team. They need a person who can create a can do atmosphere and attract top talent. You are probably thinking the Kings could never recruit that kind of top executive talent. That is where you would be wrong.

Chris Granger Photo:

Let me introduce you to Chris Granger – President of the Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Basketball Holdings, LLC and here is what he has accomplished in that position:

  • The value the franchise has risen to $1.025-billion from the original purchase price of $534-million in 2013
  • The Golden 1 Center was built in downtown Sacramento in joint public – private partnership that saved the Kings franchise from moving to Seattle
  • The Golden 1 Center has been tagged as “the Tesla of arenas”
  • Granger and the Kings are the driving force behind a $500-million mixed-use downtown development that includes a team owned 16 story hotel that is center-piece of a city revitalization project
  • Under Granger’s watch – a downtown that became a “ghost town” after sunset is now alive and thriving because of the thousands of people coming to the city center for sports and entertainment events on evenings and weekends  at the Golden 1 Center

Fast Company just named the Sacramento Kings the Number One of the “Most Innovative Companies” in the Sports Sector for creating a what they call the “Modern Day Fan Experience”.

Granger came to the Kings with a wealth of experience in the NBA having worked in the league offices from 1999-2013. In his last assignment, he was the executive vice president of Team Marketing  and Business Operations advising NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League teams on ticket and sponsorship sales, marketing, communications, digital media and community relations. The Sacramento franchise has excelled in all of these areas because of his experience.

If Vivek Ranadive had hired a basketball operations leader with same level of experience that Granger possesses on the business side, the Sacramento Kings would not find themselves in the disarray that they are in currently.


The Kings have hit the “reset button”. They cannot afford to blow this reset. The fan base in Sacramento has been waiting for 10 long years for a return to the playoffs. They have endured multiple threats to have the team ripped away and moved to another city. Fans stepped up and purchased every available season ticket package in support of the team moving into the new arena.

Now, the Kings one legitimate All-Star has been traded away for three guards and two draft picks. The not so hidden message to the fans is “you’ll have to be patient while we figure this out.” The fans will not be patient for long because they are very, very tired from years of chaos from what is supposed to be entertainment and escape from the cares of daily life.

If Ranadive can recruit and hire a high-powered executive like Chris Granger to run the business operations and “make it rain” money for organization, he is capable finding an experienced basketball operations executive with a successful track record who can come in and turn the Kings around.

Sam Hinkie

Bringing in a President of Basketball Operations does not mean that Vlade Divac and his staff need to pushed out the door. Having Divac and Peja Stojakovic in the front office is a great link to the history of the franchise and to the fans. They also have great ties to Europe which is becoming an increasingly more important player development and recruiting region for the NBA.

Ranadive needs to do one more thing. He needs to follow the “Rooney Rule” even though the NBA does not have a mandate to follow that protocol.  Marc J. Spears wrote in June 2016 on his about the distressing lack of black leadership in the NBA. Mr. Ranadive has the opportunity to address two critical issues simultaneously.

The key is Ranadive must act now. The Kings cannot afford to make a miscalculation in this year’s draft. A major mistake could have years of negative impact. The team must also create an atmosphere where at least quality second unit free agents are willing to come play in Sacramento.

Ranadive did not become a baron in the high tech world by letting things just happen. He has a man of experience and action on the business side. Now, he must hire someone with the same level of expertise on the basketball operations side or face years of anguish and frustration.

Organizational Stability must now be the Kings number one goal

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Kings did what?


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


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 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


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.


DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star for the third consecutive season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Sacramento Kings
DeMarcus Cousins is now a three-time All-Star Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento — The NBA announced the reserve members of the 2017 Western Conference All-Star Team on Thursday and DeMarcus Cousins was named to the squad. This is the third straight season that Cousins has been selected to the All-Star team.

For the Kings star center, this has to be some welcome news in what has been a chaotic, frustrating and often disappointing season. Cousins has had to carry the team at times and now that Rudy Gay has been lost for the year, the big man they call “Boogie” is going to have the burden of carrying the team on his shoulders for the rest of the season. The recognition of his talent and production should serve as some positive motivation for Cousins.


The numbers tell the story of the selection

  • Cousins is averaging a career-high 28.0 points per game
  • He has a 44.9 Field Goal %, 36.5 3-point % and a 77.3 Free Throw %
  • The big man averages 10.3 rebounds per game which means he is averaging a double-double for the season
  • Add in 4.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks in 34.4 minutes per game and looking at that stat line you can see that an All-Star selection was more than appropriate

Cousins and Russell Westbrook are the only two players in “the association” averaging at least 28 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.

Cousins has royal company

Cousins is the first Kings player to be selected to an All-Star team for three consecutive years since Peja Stojakovic was chosen as an All-Star from 2002-2004. He is the sixth player in the Sacramento era of the Kings to named as an All-Star. The other Sacramento Kings to be selected as All-Stars were Mitch Richmond (6), Chris Webber (4) and Peja Stojakovic (3). A total of 23 players have been selected as All-Stars in franchise history which includes teams playing as the Kings and Royals.

Reaction and happenings in the Tweetosphere 


Kings news & notes Monday 11-28-16

by Charlie O. Mallonee


Cousins passes Webber on the scoring list

DeMarcus Cousins scored a game-high 37 points in win over the Nets on Sunday night. Those 37 points allowed Cousins to pass Chris Webber for third on the all-time Sacramento Kings scoring list.

Cousins now has 8847 career points for Sacramento. Webber accumulated 8843 points during his six-plus years with Sacramento.

Peja Stojakovic is currently in second-place with 9498 points and the great Mitch Richmond holds down the number one spot with 12,070 points. The all-time franchise (Royals/Kings) points leader is Hall of Famer Oscar Robinson.

Based on his current scoring projections, Cousins could pass Stojakovic for second-place on the scoring list later this season.

It was a night of technical fouls plus a flagrant two ejection

DeMarcus Cousins picked up his fifth technical foul in the third quarter of the game for contact with Luis Scola’s face. It was incorrectly reported as his fourth technical foul in last night’s story. Cousins is now tied for the league lead in that category with DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers.

The Kings Kosta Koufos was charged with a technical foul in the fourth quarter for arguing with the officials. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson picked up a “T” in the fourth out of frustration with the officials and his team. Nets guard Randy Foye was also a recipient of a technical late in the final period.

Matt Barnes received his flagrant two foul (which was a flagrant one all the way) and ejection from the officiating crew on Sunday night in Brooklyn.

Four technicals and a flagrant two ejection begins to sound like an officiating crew that might have lost control of a game. This would be a good game for the chief of officials to review.

The Kings went back to the big starting lineup on Sunday in Brooklyn

After using the the “small ball” starting lineup for the past three games, Sacramento head coach Dave Joerger went back to the “big lineup” versus the big Nets. That means Koufos started at center, Cousins slid back to power forward, Rudy Gay played the three, Arron Afflalo was at shooting guard and Darren Collison started as the Kings point guard.

Three Kings return to Reno


Center Georgios Papagiannis, Forward Skal Labissiere and Guard Malachi Richardson ended few days with the parent club and returned to the D-League on Sunday. The Bighorns hosted the Warriors D-League entry the Santa Cruz Warriors.

The Bighorns used a runaway second quarter to establish a solid lead over Santa Cruz and won their second game of the season 100-84.

Malachi Richardson led the Bighorns scoring attack with 24 points and made it a double-double with 11 rebounds. He shot 8-for-18 from the floor, 3-for-6 from 3-point range and hit 5-of-6 from the free throw line.

Skal Labissiere recorded 18 points and grabbed four rebounds. He went 6-for-11 shooting from the field and was 6-for-8 from foul line.

Papagiannis did not play which was listed as a coach’s decision. Kings head coach Dave Joerger had told us that having all three players in a game really limited the number of touches each player received and they want to maximize that number to speed up player development.

The Bighorns will host the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston) on Thursday.

Don’t let this guy get to close to you on the court in D.C.

For entertainment purposes only says the Wizards have a 68-percent chance of beating the Kings tonight in Washington (remember: this is the second game of a back-to-back set on the road). FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO system predicts the Wizards are the favorites minus 4.5 points.

CARMELO also predicts the Wizards will finish with a record of 34-48 and have a 31-percent chance of making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

The fellows who make those predictions for the owners of those big resorts say go with the Wizards minus 4.5 points. They call the over/under as 210 to 210.5.

Looking ahead to game six of the road trip in Dallas


As reported by HoopsHype via Dallas Morning News on the Dirk Nowitzki injury: He’s only played five of 16 games. “We have every expectation that it’s not serious,” owner Mark Cuban said. “It’s dramatically better. That’s why he played the other night (in Cleveland). He just felt it again, so there’s no reason to take a chance. We’re just being cautious.” Said Carlisle: “The important thing is that we’re doing the right things to get him to a full recovery. He’s come a long way in a four-plus week period. But it’s an Achilles strain and it’s taking time. My hope is that it can be complete sometime in December, sooner than later. But we just got to be patient with it. He’s too important to us. If we have to play without him, we’ll play without him.”

Reno Bighorns – the Kings Triple-A minor league player development team


by Charlie O. Mallonee

“One and done”draftees create a need for more NBA player development

The day of the four-year college player becoming a number one draft choice in the NBA is over for the foreseeable future. The NBA considered seeking a change in the next CBA to change the minimum draft age requirement from 19 to 20-years old. That would create a “two and done” environment where the players had more experience and more would be known about their skills. Rumors coming out of the Collective Bargain Agreement negotiations indicate that the league has dropped its move to make that change.

NBA teams are having to invest big money in young, unproven players (and rumors indicate the rookie scale is going to increase in the next CBA) and have to then develop their skills. There are a few players like Cousins, Wall, Rose, Davis and Anthony that step into “the Association” and have an immediate impact, but they are the exception.

The majority of “one and done” players need development to become NBA ready. That requires playing time. Enter the NBA D-League. There are 22 teams (15 owned by NBA teams) that are dedicated to the development of basketball talent just as minor league baseball works to develop players for the Major Leagues.

The D-League has grown in number of teams and in its importance of developing talent

The D-League was established in 2001. At the time, it had an independent competitor in the Continental Basketball Association which has since become extinct. The league was a place for undrafted, free agent talent to keep playing in hopes of being seen and signed by an NBA team. It was also a spot for players waived by NBA teams to try to work themselves back into “the Association”.

Now the role of the league has changed. Every NBA team has 15 players on its roster. Two to three of those players are rookies who need playing time. Unlike baseball where there is a complicated options system, the NBA allows free movement of players on the roster between two leagues. A player can be on the Sacramento roster and go play in Reno and then come back to the Kings the next day.

Teams can draft international players and develop them here

Let’s use the Kings as an example. This year they drafted 19-year old Georgios Papagiannis from Greece. In years past, Papagiannis would have remained in Europe to get playing time to develop until the Kings thought he was ready to contribute at the NBA level.

Now that the Kings own the Reno Bighorns, they have Papagiannis assigned to the D-League where he can develop under the watchful eye of Peja Stojakovic, vice president of player development for the Kings and general manger of the Big Horns. Papagiannis will learn the system he will play in at the next level, and if needed by the Kings, he just two hours away in Reno.

It’s all about playing time

There is nothing that can substitute for actual playing time. That’s why forward Skal Labissiere, guard Malachi Richardson along with center Papagiannis were sent to the Bighorns. None of these three youngsters would have seen the floor in Friday night’s game between the Kings and Portland. They do not have the experience to compete and contribute in that type of intense game.

That is the value of the D-League. These three players will receive priority playing time that will speed their development and increase the chances they will become valuable, productive assets for the Sacramento Kings.

The Bighorns season opens on Sunday

The Bighorns open the 2016-17 season on Sunday on the road in Texas against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers – the D-League entry of the Houston Rockets. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST and you can watch the game live (and for free) on the NBA D-League Facebook page. Beginning in January, games can also be seen on NBA.TV and ESPNU.

Darrick Martin is the first-year head coach of the Bighorns. He was a radio analyst for the UCLA Men’s Basketball Radio Network last season. Prior to that, he spent three years as an assistant coach on Steve Lavin’s staff at St. John’s University.

Martin played point guard in the NBA for 13 years. He was a member of the Sacramento Kings two seasons from 1999 to 2001. Martin also played for Minnesota, Vancouver, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas and Toronto.

Martin joined the staff of Minnesota Timberwolves as an assistant coach and player development specialist after his retirement as a player.

A UCLA alumnus, Martin played four years for the Bruins for head coach Jim Harrick.

Get your updates here

Sports Radio Service will keep you updated on the results and news out of Reno on our website and on our Kings podcast which updates every Tuesday.

Kings come up short versus Dallas 93-91


Photo credit: Garrett Ellwood

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Heading into Sunday’s game with the Dallas Mavericks, the Kings had to answer two big questions. First, how would they bounce back after being humiliated by the Warriors 102-69 on Friday night? Second, how would play versus Dallas – a team in a three-way fight for the final two spots in the Western Conference Playoff race?

The Kings did bounce back from Friday night in a big way. Sacramento took Dallas down to the wire but ultimately came up short losing to the Mavericks 93-91.

After the game, Kings Head Coach Michael said, “It’s real simple. We’ve been in a lot of close games this year and we have to find a way to stop beating ourselves.” Malone was frustrated with his team’s rebounding and lack of second-chance points.

The Kings defense held Dallas to just 40.4-percent (36 for 89) shooting for the game but allowed the Mavs to shoot 41.9-percent (13 for 31) from beyond the 3-point line. Dallas hit five of those 3-pointers coming down the stretch in the fourth quarter which propelled them to the win.

The Kings were much improved on the ball handling side. They committed just 13 turnovers and recorded 21 assists. The problem for Sacramento was the 13 turnovers resulted in 21 points for the Mavericks. Dallas scored more than one-half of their points on turnovers and 3-point conversions.

The Kings were led by Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins. Gay was the leading scorer in the game with 32 points, and he added eight assists. Cousins recorded his 49th double-double putting up 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Gay and Cousins put the team on their backs and tried to carry them to victory.

Ray McCallum led the Kings on the point for the seventh straight game as Isaiah Thomas was still unavailable on Sunday. McCallum played all but 19-seconds of the game. He scored eight points and added nine assists. McCallum also had four rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot. He turned the ball over just three times.

Travis Outlaw was active all game and hit two key 3-point baskets in the final period to keep the Kings in contention for the win.

As a team the Kings shot 47.4-percent (36 for 76) from the field. They shot just 27.8-percent for 3-pointers. Sacramento shot 70.0-percent (14 for 20) from the free throw line. It was a game where literally one 3-point basket or three additional free throw conversions wins the game for the Kings.

The Mavericks were led by former Warrior Monta Ellis. Ellis scored 23 points off 19 shots, hit two 3-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and recorded four assists. Vince Carter had a productive game scoring 17 points in just 24-minutes of play. Carter was four of nine from 3-point land. Dirk Nowitzki put up 15 points on 17 shots in the game. Jose Calderon added 14 points that included four 3-pointers.

The Mavericks turned the ball over 10 times and allowed just eight points off those turnovers. Dallas out-rebounded the Kings 45-40.

The Mavericks record improves to 47-31 with the victory and has them in seventh place in Western Conference Playoff standings. Dallas now has a two game lead over eighth place Phoenix.

Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle said after the game,” We knew it was going to be a dog fight but the good thing is that we stayed together.  Dirk Nowitzki came in and made some big free throws at the end, but they came down and got a returned shot at one point. We’re happy with the win but we need to do much better.”

The Kings have five games remaining in the 2013-14 season and three of them are home games. Up next for the Kings is the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday in Sacramento. The Kings will be trying to avoid the season series sweep as the Thunder have won the previous three meetings. Sacramento will then go on the road to take on the Trail Blazers in Portland on Thursday. The Kings are 1-2 on the season versus the Blazers. Sacramento will then head to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday before heading home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves next Sunday.

Peja Stojakovic was in the house on Sunday afternoon as the Kings continue to reconnect with the star players from the past.