Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult things an owner or manager can do, but that is what the Sacramento Kings’ new owner Vivek Ranadive must do, if he intends to turn the organization from a losing culture to a winning one.
Ranadive started the process by replacing head coach Keith Smart with Michael Malone. He also intends to replace general manager, Geoff Petrie, with someone yet to be named. Already he is creating a new picture with broad brush stokes, beginning from the top on down. It had to be done. There is no better way to clear out entrenched thinking than with a new brain trust.
Ranadive appears to be taking an active part as the primary owner of the team, putting his very stamp on the team’s identity. The selection of replacement personnel should provide us with more hints of how he wants his new team assembled. He has already indicated he would like to see the globalization of basketball. The Kings will be his flagship, an extension of himself.
Malone will begin his first head coach job with the Kings. Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin, recently did a piece on him. One thing stood out to me:
As crazy as it sounds, said Brendan Malone (Michael’s father), there has always been a method to his son’s NBA madness. Michael, he says, has been ultra-organized since boyhood. Of the six Malone siblings, it was his youngest who folded his clothes, separated his pants and shirts in the closet, lined up his shoes, maintained to-do lists and turned in his homework.
This tells us something about Malone’s personality. He is organized, goal-directed, and responsible. These are qualities he will likely translate into his coaching style. I would expect him to run a fairly tight ship; he will know what he wants to do and have a plan to get him there. He will likely expect his players to be responsible and accountable, as he is.
Not to cast dispersion on Keith Smart or other former coaches, I think we can expect tighter and more consistent rotations. While he may tinker a bit with his lineups at the beginning of the season, I predict he will settle on his starting line-up earlier than either Smart or Paul Westphal. I don’t think he will feel the need to give everyone on his bench the opportunity to play minutes every game by spreading the minutes thin. He will likely settle on a core of 8 or 9 players and stick with them. I may be going out on a limb with my predictions, but I believe he will be less likely to experiment on the fly. We are unlikely to see a lot of mis-timed substitutions and odd combination of players on the court. He will have a plan of who he wants to play and when to play them.
There will be emphasis on team basketball versus one-on-one basketball. For that to occur with some regularity, players need to know how to play with each other, where to be on the court, and their role. This will require consistency with his rotations. A well-oiled machine has parts which fit together. If you change-up the parts all the time, then the wheels aren’t going to work smoothly. Remember, Malone likes his shoes in order. He will want to see the same kind of order with his team.
When the players return this season, they will know as soon as they walk through the door this will be a different culture from last season. Sort of like that first day of school; you don’t know what to expect, but you know it will be different. I can’t help but believe this will be a relief for our players who have lived in limbo for the past three seasons.
We have an outstanding ownership group. They are going to methodically transform a losing team, a losing culture, and frustrated fan base to a winning team, with a winning culture. Fans will have a connection with the new ownership in a way we could never conceive as possible. Ranadive has a vision for the future of the Kings. He truly appreciates the game, wanting to elevate it globally. I anticipate we will experience a magical journey, as we share this ride together.