Sacramento Kings: Vlade Divac is consolidating his power


The Sacramento Kings history with head coaches has not been great, but GM Vlade Divac firing Dave Joerger shows he’s ready to take all responsibility and build the team his way.

It was not that long ago that Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive fired Mike Malone after DeMarcus Cousins came down with spinal meningitis. It was a short-sighted move made out of frustration by a rookie owner who wanted immediate results.

When you run your whole offense around one player (DeMarcus), however, and he is out for two weeks plus, you can’t blame Malone for the Kings losing 4 out of 5 games.

Sacramento originally thought DMC had the flu, we all know now that was not the case. Malone being fired set the Kings back years with a coaching carousel that followed. Vivek took responsibility for the firing of Malone and wisely stepped aside to let NBA professionals have control. Malone is now with the Denver Nuggets who entered in the playoffs as the #2 seed.

This example shows Kings fans what their team might have been if the front office stayed the course. Now with the firing of Dave Joerger after three years of stability and improvement, it seems like another bad move is in session.

More from A Royal Pain

Vlade Divac Knows More About His Team Than Anyone Else

You can trust that Vlade knows everything that happens with the Sacramento Kings. He stands at most home games in the tunnel observing all the little details during those matches. On the road, you will see him quietly in the stands watching how the team is playing. I would not be shocked to learn that he watches every practice from start to finish.

Vlade is aware of how his players get along and the mood in the locker room. Who stays out late on road trips and who is getting sleep after a tough loss or a big win. Divac is smart, quiet, and never shows his hand while looking at the big picture.

Vlade Knows What A Winning Roster Looks Like

If a player is bringing negative energy to the organization, Vlade will know about immediately. He has shown this when it came time to kitty up $200 million plus to make DeMarcus Cousin the main guy for the organization.

Vlade made the hard decision and did what was best for the Sacramento Kings. Divac traded Cousins right after he stated he would not do so. Boogie’s representative Andrew Rogers tried to wreck any deal Vlade tried to make. Rogers told teams directly that Cousins would not sign a contract extension if they trade for him.

In my opinion, this costs Sacramento an extra first-round pick from the New Orleans Pelicans. Make no mistake, Divac is in charge and will not let a player or agent challenge his control. Divac’s instincts have proven him right most of the time. He was wrong on Georgios Papagiannis but right on trading Cousins for Buddy Hield and others. Vivek Ranadive gets some credit as he was in love with Hield when he came to the NBA.

Did Dave Joerger Deserve One More Year?

The Kings won 14 more games than predicted by the media and Vegas odds makers. They played well on both sides of the ball for the first half of the season, but in the second half of the year, their defense started to slide as so did their frequency in winning.

Sacramento was in the playoff race till the very end. So what’s not to like about coaching job that Dave Joerger did this year? In my opinion, Joerger did earn the right to coach one more year but Luke Walton getting fired cost Joerger the opportunity.

Must Read. Three reasons to give Tobias Harris the max. light

We got public relations 101 on why Joerger was let go. I could have wrote an article without seeing any of the press conferences. Same old thanks Dave Joerger, we want to move in a new direction. Not addressing the issues that kept the Kings from making the postseason which was playing bad defense.

Vlade Is All In On Luke

Vlade has his reasons which became clear when Luke Walton was fired by the Lakers, as he was hired by the Sacramento Kings as fast as Luke could get to Sacramento .

It is a huge risk and an all or nothing move for Vlade. The same as if the Kings had won the predicted 25 games this year, Joerger and Vlade would both be unemployed right now.

I was on record as saying “rebuild means improving not regressing.”  It still holds true for Divac next year. If Luke Walton was his #1 coach that said “no” three years ago to coach the Lakers, then the move makes sense.

Here is the reality of what is riding on next season. The Kings must make the playoffs, period. There are no more excuses. That means with the roster, regardless of who they get or do not acquire this summer, Sacramento must win more than the 39 games they achieved this season.

Defense must improve dramatically or this is could be a problem. In Walton’s three seasons with the Lakers, his teams did not scare anyone with their defense. The same as the Kings have been, the Lakers are a mediocre at best defensive team.  If the Kings fall short of wins to secure a playoff spot, it will fall on Vlade’s shoulders 100%.  That could spell doom on his future with the team.  Four-year contract or not, Divac could be fired at any time.

Comparing Walton To Joerger

Let us agree that both coaches made their teams better by the third year. Both coaches took over teams that were near the bottom of the NBA standings, so it would be fair to say improvement was easy when they were already near the bottom.

Walton has 10 years of NBA experience as a player, Joerger does not. Walton has a better reputation for being a players coach with great communication skills. Joerger has a better record of developing players (Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph) to reach All-Star levels.

In the three years both coaches have been with their teams, they have the same win/loss record. Both earned a 98-148 record in the last three years. Joerger win/loss record of 147 wins and 99 losses with the Memphis Grizzlies gives him the coaching edge.

Walton filling in for Steve Kerr is not be counted, and I consider Joerger as the more experienced, harder working coach. In the last three seasons both coaches had equal results, but stability paid off for Sacramento in the years they stuck with one coach and one plan. Continuity pays off in the NBA if you have the right guy. Greg Popovich has proven that with the San Antonio Spurs.

Why Luke Is Vlade’s Guy

After more statements from Divac and the Kings, it becomes clear that Divac wants a direct influence on coaching decisions. Divac said ” I want my coach to be right next to me and we can talk about the team and what’s out there for us to make our team better,” ” I want my coach on the same page.”

This is very telling, Vlade wants Walton because he can tell him how to coach on a daily basis, without having to be the coach. Dave Joerger is not a “Hall of Fame” coach like Gregg Popovich, but I believe Joerger is better when it comes to coaching in the NBA.

Trending. A Royal Prospect: Isaiah Roby. light

Vlade has managed Euroleague duties in the front office capacity for his national team. Divac did not coach anyone, anywhere, but this isn’t to say he can’t spot players or know how teams and players should play on the court.

Vlade hired Walton so he can tell him how to coach in a direct way as a superior. Joerger did coach his way as that’s what he was hired to do.

In that respect Vlade with Walton as his coach will be on the same page as they freely bounce idea’s back and forth — as equals. Divac is not a coach and could not tell Joerger directly how to coach. Or maybe Divac tried to tell Joerger how to coach?

And, maybe, when Joerger took it as advice not an order it got Joerger fired. This is not fact, but when you exceed the win total by 14 games and lose your job.  There has to be more issue’s behind closed doors that the public will never hear about.

Walton’s sexual assault investigation changes the whole plan for the Sacramento Kings and Divac

There were no sexual assault allegations when I started this article. If the Sacramento Kings do not resolve the situation quickly and decided to stay with Luke Walton, then they better hire an assistant coach who can fill in or take over the team; depending on how the investigation plays out.

Final thoughts on a complex situation

The Sacramento Kings fans deserve a winning team more than any other in the league. The #TrustInVlade slogan will go down in flames if the team falls flat for any reason. If the Kings win 30 games or less, for any reason, it will cost Divac his job. Period.

Vivek has shown as much patience as he can muster, and he’s known for being  impatient and wanting results sooner rather than later. From comments made on social media the fans take it as a bad move for Divac to consolidate control, but it is a move that must be made by any GM.

All GM’s must have control of every aspect of the team. The failure or success of the Kings controls his future in his job, so it has to be Divac’s way 100% of the time. Vlade has learned from his mistakes and been competent over the last few years, but picks and free agents are always a gamble.

Next. Grading the Kings’ coaching hires. dark

All GM’s have picks that work out, but DeAaron Fox is a steal at number five in the draft, and Nemanja Bjelica was a good free agent acquisition. The #TrustInVlade slogan should stay in effect for one more year, but this year the motto should be #PlayoffsOrBust.