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.
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.
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.
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 theundefeated.com 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.