Sunday Musings: Sacramento Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro talks 2014 NBA Trade Deadline

James Ham talks with Kings GM Pete D'Alessandro before the Kings take on the Celtics. (Photo: Jonathan Santiago)

Only DeMarcus Cousins remains on the roster from the team’s opening night starting lineup.  General manager Pete D’Alessandro has pulled off four trades during his whirlwind first season, increasing the Kings’ talent level while completely changing the feel of the franchise.  To say that the Sacramento Kings have been the most active team in the NBA this season would be a huge understatement.

It’s not a perfect roster by any means – a lot more work is ahead.  But for the first time in many years, Sacramento is building towards something.  Gone are the albatross contracts of Chuck Hayes and Marcus Thornton.  Gone are veterans John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Luc Mbah a Moute and Greivis Vasquez.

The Kings are better than their 19-36 record would suggest.  They are young, athletic, talented and in position to add another top-tier lottery pick in one of the best drafts in recent memory.  With a new arena set to open in fall of 2016, the future looks extremely bright in Sacramento.

Sunday Musings isn’t typically an interview, but with the trade deadline coming and going on Thursday, it seemed like a good time to sit down for a one-on-one conversation with the man calling the shots for the Sacramento Kings.  Here is general manager Pete D’Alessandro with Cowbell Kingdom.

CK: You’ve made it through your first trade deadline. What’s your takeaway as a first time NBA general manager?

PD: I think in the GM role, you expect to hit a grand slam.  I think probably every GM does, at least I guess they should because that’s what we’re all in it for.  So it’s hard.  When I make trades, I want to be extremely excited about bringing something new and doing something new.  So it was a little anticlimactic for me, but I still think we made very solid moves and we’re still putting ourselves in a position to kind of move forward and build a team through our youth and our athleticism.

CK: You had to know that it was possible that Jason Terry wouldn’t come to Sacramento when you made that deal, that there was potential that maybe he would sit out the rest of the season.  Are you okay with how that played out?

PD: Jason’s a pro.  He came right out and he sat down and we talked.  His knee, frankly, had been bothering him and from our perspective, this is a time for us to get Ben (McLemore), Ray (McCallum), the young guys on the floor, as we discussed when we made the trade.  As long as he is working on his end to do his rehab and get himself at 100-percent strength, and he will be because he is a pro, and we’ll monitor that.  I will keep in touch with him on a daily basis and honestly, he’s a pleasure to deal with.

CK: Is there a possibility that Terry never actually plays in a Sacramento Kings uniform?

PD: I don’t know.  I wouldn’t put a percentage on it.  I think in (the) position we are in as an organization and some of our goals, which we’ve been very transparent about, maybe there is (a) situation where we continue to change the team and continue to bring on other players. Having met him, I can say this now, but we look at him as a really classy young man and a professional.  I think having an association with him, we’re happy about that.  I just think at this point, it really does make sense for both our sides, to have him get himself right and we’ll revisit everything in the offseason.

CK: Clearly you want a shot-blocking big man and you want a few other pieces, but what is it that you felt like you really wanted to get before the trade deadline that you didn’t get?

PD: I’m about talent first. There are some positions of need that we clearly have room to get out here tonight and every night we see, because we’re a team clearly in rebuild mode.  But to me, it’s really just upgrading talent and if you can upgrade talent, eventually all of those pieces will fall in the right place.  Right now, I don’t think I’m in a position to cherry-pick.  If I can get a certain position that we’re talking about, I’d love to do that, obviously.  But if I can just trade a couple of players for a more talented player, that to me is the more important part for us at this stage.  And then we get to the draft and perhaps we look a little more specifically and we’ll talk as a staff about that.  Overall, I think we achieved some flexibility and that’s always a good thing.

CK: You have 28 games to sort of evaluate what you have here.  What is it that you hope to see?  What is it you are looking for?

PD: I really want to see our players playing like they are playing for a championship.  I really do.  And I think our coaching staff does too and I know my owner does.  Whether that translates to wins – and it may or may not – but to see the attitude and see the passion, and we want to see it from our young guys.  So there’s a challenge to our young guys right now.  You have 28 games; that’s a college season.  How do you play?  What have you gotten better at?  It’s now time to take a step, because in 28 games, you’re not rookies anymore.  I think that’s a big thing.  So use these 28 games to get to the next step.

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About: James Ham

James Ham is co-owner and senior editor of Cowbell Kingdom, providing extensive Kings coverage through news analysis, in-depth interviews with players and staff and daily coverage of breaking news. Along with providing original content for the site, including the Cowbell Kingdom Podcast and his weekly Sunday Musings column, James also is one of the producers behind the award-winning, independent documentary film "Small Market, Big Heart".