Sunday Musings: General Manager Pete D’Alessandro on the state of the Sacramento Kings
Media Day is a mixture of chaos and excitement. As players, coaches and executives move from one station to the next, there is the smallest of opportunity to steal away a few minutes of someone’s time for a quick Q&A before an unwanted microphone encroaches or a handler ushers them to their next photo shoot.
On Friday afternoon, I was lucky enough to nab Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro for a good seven minutes of unfiltered, uninterrupted, unshaven time. On the eve of training camp, we touched base on a busy offseason, the addition of Ramon Sessions, the status of Rudy Gay’s extension and the uncertain status of player personnel director Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
CK: It was another crazy offseason. How close is this team to what you are comfortable walking into a season with?
PD: I’m really excited about the roster we’ve assembled. I think the depth is there. I think the maturity is there. I think having gotten to know some of the new guys, I really feel like they are going to fit well, in terms of the texture of the locker room and how we are as a family, not just a team. I’m very pleased with the new additions and excited about the guys coming back from Spain as well.
CK: Ramon Sessions was a late add to this roster. How much can he change the dynamic of this team?
PD: I think whenever you add a veteran who’s proven like he is, who’s been around and is also kind of from the area, right up in Reno as you know, I think that is something you have to jump on. We talked to Ramon’s people very early in free agency, as a guy we were interested in. Sometimes these deals happen much later than when you start them out. But we are very pleased with getting him at that late point.
CK: You’ve been active again on the market, and I assume you are still active right now sorting things out and trying to make this team better. Is there a possibility that you are still open for moves between now and the start of the season.
PD: Yeah, I think we always are. We always are. I just sat down with our team and said the interesting part was last year we came in, Michael (Malone) and I, it was hard to talk to a team you knew you were just going to tear up. We knew we had to tear it up. We told all of the guys (on Saturday) that you are here for a reason, you’ve been selected and chosen to be here. That doesn’t state that this is our final product or anything like that, but now these are the guys that we have put in these positions. So I feel like we are in a much better position to now put a product on the floor that reflects some of the coaching decisions that will be made.
CK: Your team is definitely deeper, but you didn’t make any splashy moves this summer. Was that by design?
PD: (laughing) All of my moves have to be splashy to make it work. The truth is, and you know this, James, when you’re putting a team together, you can’t make the most popular moves, but you’re making, maybe the move, ahead of the move that you want to make. I don’t know what our next move is. You could sit me here and put me on a polygraph. I don’t know what our next move for this team is. But I do know that we gained some pieces in trade exceptions. We’ve gained talent, some pieces that are desirable. I feel like we are in a good position to be available to do something for trade deadline or even before. We’re always going to keep our ears open and talk, but I would like to see some of the talent we’ve assembled play together now. Because I really think, I agree, the depth is there, and I want to see how that fits with the coaches.
CK: You are known as a salary cap guru. And we have really seen that over the last three or four moves where you have made savvy moves to save this team money, after you had gotten your salary up near the luxury tax. Was that fun for you to try and figure out all of these moving pieces while keeping flexibility?
PD: I don’t want to say it’s fun. I want to say it’s necessary. We’re in a business in basketball. Fantasy basketball is fun, because you just go pick your guy and go. I would love to just go do that, but we are bound by a set of rules that don’t make that possible. So, knowledge of the rules makes it easier to make those decisions on the fly. If someone calls you in the last minute, you can think it through and try and figure it out. I think that helps, but I learn every day. Everyone wants to say they are an expert on everything, but as many years as I’ve done this, I learn from every single deal we do and watch deals other teams do and pick up stuff as well.
CK: Rudy Gay. Contract extension? Tabling talks? Where are we?
PD: I think we’ll continue talking to his agents. We’ve made no secret about how we feel about Rudy, and I think Rudy feels the same way. We have time to move. There’s no pressure from one way or the other, but we love Rudy. Think the world of him and his wife, Echo, and that new baby boy. They’ve become very quickly a part of what we consider a growing family for us. And it’s really starting to feel like that. I just came out of the team meeting, and it’s a different feel. Rudy’s a senior member of that family, so I look forward to hopefully continuing talks with them.
CK: I’m going to ask you the uncomfortable question that you probably don’t want to answer…
PD: (smiling) Wait… there are a lot of those out there…
CK: Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Do we have a story? Do we know if he is going to be back?
PD: You know, I’ve always been as transparent as I can media-wise. Shareef and I had discussions. He’s deciding whether or not he wants to remain with us, and that’s for personal reasons. I don’t want to get into his own personal reasons. But it’s not really a story behind it other than he’s trying to make a decision in terms of what he wants to do. I happen to have a great relationship with him. I care a lot about him, as more than just a colleague, but as a friend. I think the world of him. If there is a story to that, we’ll let you know as soon as we know, but it’s more of a personal thing I think is the best way to put it right now.