Full disclosure, Vlade Divac is one of my top 3 favorite Sacramento Kings. I own three of his jerseys and as much as I loved him as a player, I love him as a person even more.
However, now he’s the Kings general manager, so grading his performance less than two full years after taking over is tough – both mentally and historically. A GM generally needs three to five years to clean up the past and build the future. I do, however, think it’s fair to look at what he’s done so far:
- Drafted Willie Cauley-Stein. Grade: D/INC
I think Cauley-Stein could be great. I also see Devin Booker locking it down for Phoenix while Cauley-Stein goes from 10-15 minutes per game to a DNP to who knows.
This is year two – last year he was misused by George Karl, but what’s going on this year? Is he a bust yet?
I don’t think so, but it’s fair to wonder about it. Either he’s less talented than what Divac thought, or the Kings’ inability to develop players is rearing its ugly head again.
- Drafted Georgios Papagiannis, Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson, and acquired the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic. Grade: Massive INC
First things first, Divac succeeded in drafting some of the longest and most difficult names to spell in NBA history.
Second, three are in the D-League and the other is expected to come over next year. I understand why Kings fans are hyped on Bogdanovic, especially with so little to hold on to, but there’s no guarantee he’s going to help. In fact, he may just be another dude. We just don’t know yet.
I also get that Divac has to shoot for the future, but all three guys are in the freaking D-League.
Looking at the draft as a whole, you can’t really point to anyone he missed – yet. However, as of right now, none of Divac’s four draft picks plus rights acquired guy have made any significant contribution for the Kings. So that’s not good.
- Philadelphia trade. Grade: D/Possible F-
That trade is basically Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, and Jason Thompson, plus possible pick swaps, in exchange for Marco Belinelli, Rajon Rondo, and Kosta Koufos.
Belinelli is gone and currently shooting quite well from three for the Charlotte Hornets. He was gone after one year.
Rondo is gone and playing for the Bulls, also after just one year with the Kings.
Koufos is a fringe starter for the Kings and has been exactly what they thought they were getting: a serviceable big man to do some dirty work.
By the way, Stauskas is currently shooting daggers from behind the arc for the Philadelphia 76ers. Not related – the Kings suck from three point land.
So yeah, this trade kind of sucked, and that’s without the possibility of a pick swap. The Sixers are just three wins behind the Kings, and that doesn’t account for the luck of the ping pong balls. If (God forbid) the Kings were to get lucky in the lottery and then have to swap it with Philly? Worst. Trade. Ever.
So the first two years of the Divac era haven’t been fantastic. The team is no closer to contention, the status of DeMarcus Cousins is coming to a head and there are no significant pieces to give hope for the future. There are no contributions from draft picks, no real market for Rudy Gay, and again, more questions about Cousins’ future with the team.
There is also the recurring theme of players being on the Kings and sucking, only to go to another team to find success.
Since the Kings drafted Cousins in 2010, they have failed to develop one single solitary player. You could make arguments for two, Cousins and Isaiah Thomas. I would counter that Cousins would’ve developed regardless, as would Thomas – who became an All-Star on a different team. Let’s also remember that they traded Thomas for Alex Oriakhi and a trade exception they never used.
Why? Because they weren’t willing to give him the $6-7 million a year he wanted.
Now he’s an All-Star (PS: Timofey Mozgov makes 18 million a year).
In the coming weeks, I could (and might) continue to expand on the issues with this team. Bottom line? They aren’t good, and there’s really no reason to believe that’s going to change anytime soon.