Recapping Vlade Divac’s “unofficial” G.M. tenure

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The saying goes, “It ain’t official ‘til it’s Facebook official.”

Well the Sacramento Kings linked a story to their social media account on Monday, announcing the front office roles of Mike Bratz, Roland Beech and Peja Stojakovic. Also in the media release, the Kings declared Vlade Divac was to be named Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager, after serving since March in a similar capacity.

So who’s been running the show in Sacramento for the last seven months? Divac obviously.

But the outsiders will never truly know without the “G.M.” seal in front of his name.

At least Divac, honest as ever, will accept responsibility for any transactions during this window, which coincided with the end of former general manager Pete D’Alessandro’s reign. For clarity, below is a timeline of Sacramento’s most noteworthy personnel moves since Divac signed on.

March 3 – Divac officially joins the front office

The 47-year-old was named the Kings’ Vice President of Basketball and Franchise Operations, and a new era was born. The job was Divac’s first front office position at any level.

May 1 – Chris Mullin leaves the front office

Mullin, who served as an advisor to owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Pete D’Allesandro since summer 2013, jumped ship to coach the men’s basketball team at St. John’s, his alma mater. Mullin was rumored to be staunchly against the February hiring of head coach George Karl, making him the odd man out in the board room.

May 12 – David Arseneault Jr.’s option picked up

Despite the Reno Bighorns’ 20-30 record in 2014-15, the Kings recognized the value of Arseneault Jr.’s revolutionary offense and extended his employment a year. In Arseneault Jr.’s first season as Bighorns head coach, the D-League club produced a league-high five NBA call-ups. The on-court product was exciting as well.

June 12 – Pete D’Alessandro leaves the front office

D’Alessandro’s fate was written on the wall in blood for some time. Then Yahoo! Sports reported the dead man walking had abandoned his two-year gig as general manager to work in a lesser capacity for the Denver Nuggets. D’Alessandro’s Kings tenure was mired with franchise-derailing mistakes, but his departure (along with Mullin’s) removed a scapegoat for future ridicule.

June 25 – Willie Cauley-Stein gets drafted sixth overall

The debate in Sacramento was between drafting Cauley-Stein or Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay was perceived to have more potential and fill a more important role, but Divac cited the point guard’s unwillingness to work out for the team as a factor in passing him over. The decision will be analyzed for years to come.

July 10 – Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, Nik Stauskas and picks officially traded to 76ers

What looked like highway robbery on paper was really more sensible when studied. The Kings were forced to trade a future protected first round pick and the rights to swap two more picks, but the market for Thompson and Landry’s contracts was so poor the team felt it necessary to sweeten the pot. Losing Stauskas a year after drafting him eighth overall hurt, but the Kings had essentially endorsed Ben McLemore as their future two-guard by that point.

When the dust settled, Sacramento obtained two foreign prospects and $15 million in cap space, which was used in free agency.

July 13 – Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli and Kosta Koufos officially signed

The trio’s successful recruitment justified the July 10 trade, and signified the Kings’ biggest free agent coup since the team signed Divac to a long-term contract in 1998.

On a one-year, $9.5 million deal, Rondo is a low risk, high reward investment. Belinelli is expected to provide the Kings much-needed outside shooting for three years at $19 million, and Koufos should be reliable for starter-level production in the three years he’s paid guaranteed (plus a player option). The three imports fill needs and give the organization a right to be cautiously optimistic.

July 14 – Omri Casspi and Luc Mbah a Moute officially signed

Casspi re-signed for far less than his market value, accepting $6 million over two seasons. Mbah a Moute’s contract was voided on July 16 due to a failed physical, which the free agent’s camp claimed was a dishonest evaluation. A grievance filed by the NBPA on his behalf added to the controversy of the Kings’ offseason.

July 16 – James Anderson officially signed

After playing overseas for a year, the Kings gave Anderson a one-year, $1 million deal along with a 2016 player option. The extra year seemed unnecessary, and puts the Kings on the hook if the former first rounder can’t readjust to the states.

July 22 – Seth Curry, Quincy Acy and Duje Dukan officially signed

While Acy, Dukan and Curry were each had for six-figure salaries in 2015, Curry was given a player option in 2016. This was likely offered to lure the scorer away from the New Orleans Pelicans, so the Kings can only hope the D-League sensation captures a tad of the shooting magic displayed by his brother.

July 23 – Caron Butler officially signed

Butler will earn $1.5 million next season and holds a 2016 player option. If the 35-year-old’s game falls off the face of the Earth, his presence on the roster may not be worth the leadership and experience.

July 25 – Peja Stojakovic reportedly offered front office job

Make no mistake, Divac and Stojakovic’s friendship played a role in the sharpshooter’s job offer. Stojakovic volunteered his time to help the Kings on and off the court in the weeks prior to the July 25 ESPN report, so a case could be made the 38-year-old left a strong impression.

July 26 – Dean Oliver leaves the front office

The choice for Oliver and the Kings to go their separate ways caught the ire of critics, who speculated Divac was shunning basketball analytics altogether. In reality, the team was merely restocking its shelf.

July 29 – Eric Moreland waived

The addition of Cauley-Stein made Moreland, a D’Alessandro favorite, expendable. Perhaps Moreland’s release will spark the beginning of his revenge tour, a la Hassan Whiteside (just saying).

July 31 – Nancy Lieberman officially added as assistant coach

Lieberman’s illustrious basketball resume made her long past due for an NBA position, but the timing of her hire screamed public relations purposes. Like any assistant coach, her knack for staying out of the headlines and doing work behind the scenes will be a sign of good.

August 15 – Roland Beech reportedly added to lead analytics

The Kings could do worse than bring in a proven statistician who spearheaded the numbers department for the Dallas Mavericks, a early proponent for analytics. On prior accomplishments alone, Beech represents an upgrade over Oliver.

August 27 – Marshall Henderson reportedly signed

Sunday Musings has an in-depth take on Henderson, and if anything, his training camp invite is proof that Divac is willing to roll the dice with little fear of backlash.

August 31 – Vlade Divac officially named general manager

Or in more formal terms, Divac is now the Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager.

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Rui Thomas
Rui Thomas is a writer and reporter for Cowbell Kingdom. He previously covered the Sacramento Kings and the NBA for Sports Out West. He is published by Sports Illustrated’s Truth and Rumors and Yahoo Sports NFL among others.

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