Kings: Big changes in the front office as Scott Perry joins the Knicks as GM

by Charlie O. Mallonee

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Scott Perry NYK Gen Mgr. Photo NBA.com

Just as everything appeared to be on the way to stability for the Sacramento Kings — BAM! — big changes have been announced in the front office operations for the team. Executive vice-president for basketball operations Scott Perry has been hired by the New York Knicks to be their new general manager. Reports have Perry receiving a five-year contract.

Perry joined the Kings front office on April 21. The Kings could have told Perry no because he was under contract and told the Knicks to go look elsewhere for a new GM. The fact the team did not block Perry from interviewing for the NYK job says a great deal about the organization’s respect for him as a person and as an executive.

There are some that are questioning the Kings decision to let Perry walk away from the team including two NBA executives that were quoted in the New York Post on Friday:

“It’s a little strange, getting fired in Orlando, then going to Sacramento and they’re willing to let him go so soon after a few months,’’ an NBA executive said.

The SacKings front office was the target of criticism

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Divac and Stojakovic

In 2016, the Kings could not get top lottery picks to come to Sacramento for tryouts and interviews. Agents viewed the organization as being in disarray and it was almost like if they avoided Sacramento their clients would not be drafted by the Kings.

There were also rumors that NBA executives were frustrated because they could not get call through or calls back from Kings executives in the front office. The lack of a traditional front office structure appeared to hurting the Kings ability to get things done operationally.

Sacramento had also been criticized for having the smallest scouting staff in the NBA. Experts felt the Kings needed to see more college talent to be successful in the draft.

Perry received much of the credit for the Kings draft and free agent signing success

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Analyst have given the Kings very positive reviews for the job they did in the 2017 draft. Virtually everyone loves the selection of point guard De’Aaron Fox out of Kentucky with the number five overall pick. Most experts approve of the team taking SF Justin Jackson (North Carolina), PF Harry Giles (Duke) and PG Frank Mason III (Kansas) in the draft with their other picks. Some have said Mason might be one of the “value picks of the draft”.

“One of the top evaluators of talent in the NBA,” said one NBA executive who has worked with Perry. “The evidence is Sacramento’s free agency this year.” New York Post July 14, 2017

Sacramento then went to work signing three veteran free agents to play for a team stacked with young players. George Hill gives the Kings a veteran at point guard while Fox and Mason develop their skills at the NBA level. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter who played for Dave Joerger in Memphis were signed to play and mentor.

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Scott’s leadership was credited as being a major factor in why the Kings were able to pull things together so well in the all-important player acquisition period. The addition of analytics expert Luke Bornn along with the added experience of another year of working together for Vlade Divac and his staff also added to the success of draft and free agent signing period.

Perry is going to be trying to revive a franchise that is in shambles

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One the major problems the New York Knicks have to overcome is their owner. James Dolan who has a history of making questionable decisions when it comes to his NBA team. On draft night in June, he was in Manhattan playing with his blues-rock band while Phil Jackson and his staff made the choices on who the future players for the Knicks would be.

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James Dolan NBA owner or rock star?

Of course just days later, Dolan and Jackson parted ways in a very public break up. If Dolan was planning on replacing Jackson, why did he wait until after the draft? The bottom line is that it is just another in a long line of bad decisions made by Dolan when it comes to his NBA franchise.

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Knick, Cavalier, Rocket?

The other major problem that Perry faces in his first days with the Knicks is what to do with Carmelo. Anthony has been making noises about being willing to accept a trade to another team like Houston or Cleveland. His salary and what the Knicks will want in return pose a real problem for the team to actually move Carmelo out and really begin a true rebuilding process.

Perry will work for the Knicks former general manager Steve Mills who will now be the team’s president.

Kings get cash and a future second-round draft pick but what about “Hamilton” tickets?

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The Kings will receive an undisclosed amount of cash and a future second-round draft pick as compensation for releasing Perry to sign with the Knicks. Cash? Overrated. Second-drafts picks can be helpful in closing trades.

But Vivek and Vlade, what everyone wants is tickets to “Hamilton” on Broadway. Think about the promotion your marketing team could have put together with a block of “Hamilton” tickets for the week the Kings play the Knicks and Nets in New York. Broadway and Basketball: it would have been a spectacular promotion.

If you do anymore deals with the Knicks or Nets, they must include tickets to “Hamilton”.

Sacramento Kings make major additions to the front office staff

by Charlie O. Mallonee

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The Sacramento Kings basketball operations division has been under fire during the entire transition to the new ownership group headed by Vivek Ranadive. When the initial front office staff was dismissed and turned over to a staff headed by former Kings star Vlade Divac, the concern was the executive group lacked experience.

As the Divac era progressed, the lack of experience criticism continued to grow with transactions like the one with Philadelphia that could cost the Kings valuable position in the upcoming draft lottery. There have also been rumors that the minority owners group have been pressuring Ranadive to increase the size of the basketball operations staff and reshape it into a more traditional NBA style structure.

The two new additions to the basketball operations staff show that someone in the ownership group is listening.

Kings add Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations

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Scott Perry is now executive vice president of basketball operations for the Sacramento Kings. Photo NBAE

The Kings have hired Scott Perry as executive vice president of basketball operations. Perry has been in “the association” in various positions since 2000.

Perry has spent the previous five seasons as the executive vice president of basketball operations for the Orlando Magic. He served in the same capacity for the Detroit Pistons when they won the NBA Championship in 2004. Perry  was assistant general manager in Seattle when the Supersonics drafted Kevin Durant.

Perry also has considerable experience at the collegiate level. He was the head basketball coach at Eastern Kentucky from 1997-2000. Perry spent time as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan, UC Berkeley and Detroit Mercy.

“I am thrilled that Scott will be joining our front office team,” said Divac. “His extensive experience in the league and management talents will help build our progress as we work to develop a winning franchise.”

Perry will report directly to Divac and will assist in all areas of the day-to-day basketball operations.

It’s a numbers game

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Luke Bornn Sacramento Kings new VP of Strategy and Analytics

The days of “going with your gut” to select talent from the draft for you NBA team are over. Yes, it worked for Hall of Fame coaches like Auerbach, Sharman and even Don Nelson. Those great coaches had to go by the “gut” and the most basic of stats because that was all that they had available to them.

Today it is a brand new world. Analytics have changed the way players are analyzed and the number of areas that are looked at have increased in exponential proportions. Is there still a place for the intangible, intuitive decisions? Yes, they can play a part in making the final decisions but the most important selections will be made based on hard, cold statistics.

To compete in this “brave new world”, the Kings have hired Luke Bornn – PhD and Harvard professor to Spearhead Team’s analytical efforts – as vice president of strategy and analytics.

Bornn will report directly to Vlade Divac – vice president and general manger of basketball operations. His job will be to provide the data to the operations staff to help make informed decisions about roster makeup, player evaluations and overall team strategies. The data will be gathered in multiple ways including wearable technology.

Bornn will not be the only hire for the analytics staff. The Kings will be adding additional personnel to the department over the next few weeks. Sacramento has two big immediate decisions to make about who to draft with their two lottery draft picks in the June NBA Draft.

Bornn most recently worked as head of analytics for A.S. Roma of the Italian Serie A Football League. Prior to that, he was a visiting scholar and professor at Harvard University in the Department of Statistics.