That’s really the only way to describe what we have seen from Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro and his staff so far in their tenure. Less than 20 games into the NBA season and they’ve already pulled off two major trades that have reshaped an ailing roster and we’ve yet to make it to Christmas.
“We need players here in Sacramento,” D’Alessandro said before Monday night’s drubbing of the Dallas Mavericks. “That’s just the bottom line. We’ve had a lot of really good backups for a long time and now we’re starting to acquire starters. That’s the first step.”
The fight to rebuild the Kings roster is in full swing. D’Alessandro has already added Rudy Gay, Derrick Williams, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy via two in-season trades. Those players join summer additions Carl Landry, Ben McLemore, Ray McCallum and Hamady Ndiaye in an ever-changing locker room.
“I think we have a lot of nice pieces,” D’Alessandro said. “I don’t necessarily know that we have a team yet though. And that’s just being really honest. I feel like we have a lot of really nice individual pieces now. And you know what? That’s a really good start.”
Only six players remain from the Geoff Petrie era that ended less than six months ago. It has been a wild transformation, but one that D’Alessandro knows that couldn’t have happened without support from his owner, something Petrie did not have in his final seasons running the Kings.
“You’re a four or five win team, you’re always saying, ‘how do we get better’,” D’Alessandro said. “And it’s not going to happen today or tomorrow, even by the end of the season, but it’s going to happen. I’ve got the mandate from my owner to make it happen and that’s tremendous to have an owner who’s that committed.”
Vivek Ranadivé is in constant communication with D’Alessandro and is willing to spend to improve the roster. The Williams trade in addition to the blockbuster seven-player deal that the Kings pulled off Monday came at a price. In fact, the Kings have added about $3.5 million in salary this season and nearly $15 million for next.
Adding nearly $20 million in salary over two seasons is a luxury that the Kings have not had in a very long time.
D’Alessandro knows his work is not done. This is a marathon, not a sprint and the Kings general manager is bringing in players to help now and that project as long-term solutions for the Kings.
“We’re not there,” D’Alessandro said. “It’s not a get rich quick scheme. It’s not a quick fix. We’re saying hey, lets bring in talent and let’s see where this thing takes us. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re here in Sacramento, but we’re going to keep fighting to make it happen.”
Not everyone is in love with the moves that D’Alessandro has made. Sacramento’s front office has taken a bit of a beating by the advanced statistic folks who point to Gay’s 38.8-percent field goal percentage and 30.4-percent usage rate on the season. They don’t see him fitting on a team with high-usage players like DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas.
D’Alessandro sees it differently than a lot of people. He sees a 27-year old player that has had plenty of success over his career.
“When you look at the man and you look at the body of work, this is a very, very good player and we’re really excited to have him here for that reason,” said D’Alessandro.
Sacramento isn’t done dealing. If something makes sense for the Kings, D’Alessandro has the backing to make it happen.
“I love change,” D’Alessandro said. “The excitement of taking over as general manager of Sacramento is, you embrace change. If you don’t embrace change, there’s going to be how many more years of the same old thing.”
We have already learned that the “same old thing” is off the table. Everything is new in Sacramento, including half the team.