Pete D’Alessandro looks ahead to Sacramento Kings’ future at end-of-season wrap
The season may be in the books for the Sacramento Kings, but the work doesn’t stop for Pete D’Alessandro. The Kings general manager is still grinding away, trying to find ways to improve a roster that finished with 28 wins for a second-consecutive season. With the offseason now in full swing in Sacramento, D’Alessandro has turned his full attention to the draft and free agency.
D’Alessandro took time to have an open dialogue about the Kings over lunch with local media Tuesday afternoon in Midtown Sacramento. From pending free agency for both Rudy Gay and Isaiah Thomas to the depth of this year’s draft, a plethora of topics were discussed. Below are highlights from Tuesday’s conversation with the Kings GM.
- D’Alessandro feels the Kings are in a good spot to retain Rudy Gay. The veteran swingman, who the Kings GM acquired in December, has the option to walk away from $19-million guaranteed next season and test free agency this summer. “I feel good about his feeling for us,” D’Alessandro said of Gay. “I couldn’t put like a percentage on it. Coach (Lou) Carnesecca would say ‘Don’t put the whammy on yourself’, so I’m not gonna put the whammy on us. But I feel very good about the position we sit in with him. And I hope for the best.”
- Gay has until June 30 to decide whether to leave money on the table or play out the final year of his contract. D’Alessandro expects that he, Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadivé and Kings team president Chris Granger will have numerous talks with Gay leading up to the deadline. But does D’Alessandro think Gay will decide on his future sooner rather than later? “I think generally speaking, you see guys wait ‘til the end,” D’Alessandro said when asked Gay might inform the Kings before the June 30 deadline about his plans regarding his contract. “It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if that was the case.”
- D’Alessandro made it clear that the Kings will offer Isaiah Thomas a qualifying offer, meaning that the third-year guard will go into July as a restricted free agent. What happens from there is still up in the air. “We’ll talk to his agent, we’ll talk to him and we’ll see what happens from there,” D’Alessandro said. “If we think we can reach something, fine. If not, it’s all written out how it goes and we’ll just try to work with him to figure out what the best thing is for everyone.”
- More D’Alessandro on Thomas: “He’s been nothing short of classy, hard-worker, guy who loves the game and we love all those things about him. These things are never easy when you get into it because there’s emotion that goes along with it. There’s this and there’s that. At the end of the day, our relationship with him, our relationship with his agent, I think it’ll get done the right way – whatever that is. And I don’t know what that’s gonna be.”
- Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee wrote a column Saturday exploring the idea of whether players enjoy playing with DeMarcus Cousins. D’Alessandro was asked about this notion and offered the following response: “I’ll use Rudy as an example. When you play with DeMarcus Cousins and that level of talent, (it) makes other players around him better. I really believe that. I think he draws so much attention for his skill-set and what he does, that talented players can thrive off of that. And it’s all about what goes on on the floor. To me it really it is. And as a guy who represented players, you want to see your guys in positions where they can thrive. And I think having a DeMarcus Cousins puts our other players in positions where they can thrive. The guy can pass the ball and will. The guy can handle the ball and does. There’s so many things that he does besides being just the beast that he is. I believe part of, talking about the sales pitch of (getting players to play here), is come play with DeMarcus Cousins.”
- Despite finishing his third season in the league, Derrick Williams will join Ray McCallum and Ben McLemore on the Kings’ summer league team in Las Vegas. For sake of continuity and development, D’Alessandro wants Kings players to get on the court together as much as they can this offseason and summer league in Las Vegas is one of those opportunities. “It’s such a young core that we’re developing that they have to play together so that they continue to grow together,” he said.
- D’Alessandro called this year’s draft “a very good draft.” He believes there is talent to be found all throughout this year’s pool even beyond the lottery. “I think it’s one of those drafts that (you have) good players up top – really good players,” D’Alessandro said. “Some pretty good players in the middle and there’ll be some steals at the end of the first round. So, I think it’s one of the drafts that people will cherry pick and some people get lucky and some people will do the work and get (talent). But there’s gonna be picks throughout that draft that will succeed and be pretty good players.”
- The Kings only have their first-round pick in this year’s draft, but D’Alessandro admitted that he’s reached out to teams that hold second-round selections. Depending on who’s available, he didn’t rule out the possibility of the Kings buying or trading for a second-round pick. “I think there’s potential, real NBA talent, like I see in Ray McCallum, out there in the second round this year,” D’Alessandro said. “And I think if you draft well in the second round, it’s almost like it’s a really nice way of building depth for your roster if you get the right guys.”
- Since his acquisition as part of the trade that sent Marcus Thornton to the Brooklyn Nets, Jason Terry has been an afterthought in Sacramento. The Kings allowed the veteran guard to sit out the rest of the year and rehab his bothersome left knee at his home in Dallas. Whether Terry retires or decides to play another season is yet to be determined, however D’Alessandro checked in with the 36-year-old guard last week to assess where he is with his rehab. “I’ll spend some time with him this offseason and talk to him, see where he is physically,” D’Alessandro said. “See where he is mentally and we’ll have that conversation. Look, we’re a young team and we need guys like that. We need a few guys who can bring that level of experience and that level of championship experience just to be around them, just to kind of help these guys understand this is what you need to do, this is how you conduct yourself. So, we’ll talk to Jason.” Terry will enter next season on the final year of a three-year contract and is owed approximately $5.8 million.
- Is there any one skill D’Alessandro would like to specifically upgrade with next year’s roster? “I think shooting,” D’Alessandro said. “I think more consistent shooting from the 3-ball. We’ll work on our guys with that because a lot of them have the potential to be very good shooters. But, we could use that. I would probably rate that, just off the top of my head, as probably the thing I think mostly we need. I like shooting from all five positions. If we can get it, that’s the ideal thing. Doesn’t always work that way, but it’s a heck of an advantage if you have it.”
- D’Alessandro on his expectations for next season: “For me, I’ll speak for myself, I want to win more than we did last year. And (the) next year, I want to win more than we did the last two years. So I’ll speak from my perspective, it is about wins and losses. I don’t feel fulfilled. Not that it’s about me, but speaking personally, I don’t want to (lose); I want to win. It’s not enjoyable the day after the season not thinking about who we’re playing next… So, I want our players, our young guys to feel that, I want our owners to feel that. We have a lot of work to get there, but it’s gonna be about that for me.”