Sunday Musings: Finding #SacramentoProud
Vlade Divac has entered the building.
This isn’t another Shaquille O’Neal PR stunt (when was the last time we saw that guy?). Divac is in Sacramento with a shiny new VP title, and his intention is to fix what ails a Kings franchise that has clearly lost its way once again.
It’s no secret that the Kings are still searching for something. It’s been a long search and the end is nowhere in sight, but that hasn’t slowed the process. Seven coaches in seven years. Countless players. Ownership changes. Management changes. And now this – another mouth to feed in an overpopulated front office.
Repeating myself for emphasis here, but Vlade Divac is in Sacramento to work, not kiss babies, high-five fans or sit courtside next to Ranadivé before flying out on the next chartered jet. That is the message we are receiving from behind the scenes and that can only mean one thing – more changes are coming.
“I’m here and we’ll see,” a cryptic Divac said when asked about where he fits in the quagmire of front office personalities in Sacramento. “I can’t say anything right now, but I talked to Vivek last year, I talked (to him) six months ago, I talked (to him) three months ago and it was all about basketball and his vision and I’m so excited.”
It appears the Kings ownership group at large is ready to hit the reset button. They have seen what the current front office group has brought to the table for almost two years. 51 wins over two seasons is nothing to hang your hat on and neither is the embarrassment of the last three months.
Somewhere along the way, the Kings jumped script. They stopped listening to their public relations staff and started freelancing. They overestimated their pull in the locker room and underestimated the chemistry and culture built by Michael Malone. The results have been disastrous.
Even when they have had an opportunity to show some semblance of solidarity, they pass. Pete D’Alessandro was the lone representative from the Kings at Karl’s introductory press conference and no one has stepped to the forefront to tell us what the Divac hiring means.
For a group that loves the camera, their absence speaks as loud as any words they have said in the past.
Maybe they have nothing to say, which would be shocking. Or maybe the fate of the front office is sealed and this is a death march.
There is hope that Divac can provide a voice of reason. That he can be the calming influence that he was in the Kings locker room during the golden years of Sacramento basketball. There is no doubt that he is charming and lovable and maybe more importantly, despite his European roots, he knows Sacramento.
Divac is someone the fans have deep affection for. He speaks directly to the diverse community that is Sacramento. He has no Golden State Warriors ties nor is he a publicity stunt that charges an appearance fee when he flies into the capital city.
This is an important issue that has repeatedly been ignored by the new Kings regime. Like the “Here We Rise” campaign of the Maloofs, the “Sacramento Proud” mantra has very little value when you can neither be proud of the product or the message that is being disseminated on the basketball side.
Divac on the other hand is Sacramento Proud. He instantly brings credibility to the franchise, despite his lack of experience in the front office.
Hopefully the 7-foot tall Serb can get a handle on the message coming from within. During the Geoff Petrie era, information was nearly impossible to come by. But over the last two seasons, the Kings seem hell-bent on getting famous for what they say and not what they do.
Kevin Love? The Kings are in the discussion. Deron Williams? All in! Strangely enough, the one trade no one saw coming has turned out to be the most successful one. No one had the Rudy Gay deal until it was done. It’s funny how there was no need for negotiation in the press on that transaction.
Ownership and management created a culture of chaos. Players are constantly looking over their shoulder and wondering what’s coming next. The same could be said about the coaching staff that not only found the door, but a lack of support while they were running the team.
The current climate in Sacramento is not conducive to winning or attracting free agent players. Nor is it a good way to represent a city that wants nothing more than to celebrate the team that gives them a voice on a national, if not global stage.
Maybe Divac is the man to call a huddle, wrap his long arms around the group and pull the group together.
Hopefully this is the moment when the Kings begin to right the ship. Mistakes have been made, but there is plenty of time recover. We are less than 18 months away from the opening of a new arena in downtown Sacramento. That arena comes with a 35-year lease. The Kings aren’t going anywhere.
Enough with the frenetic message and the Shaq-ramento gimmicks. It’s time to move forward with Kings basketball. Hopefully a face from the past is the way to do that.