A coaching change is imminent, the locker room is in flux, and the playoffs are an increasingly extended long shot. For the Sacramento Kings, it’s never been more clear that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And just like blame for this franchise’s embarrassing post-Millennium past, faults for its disastrous present lies at the feet of ownership.
According to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports, a group of Kings minority stakeholders are attempting to wrest control of the team from majority owner Vivek Ranadivé. The only problem? There’s no means or precedent for that type of upper-level coup in the NBA.
Kings minority owners have quietly explored ways to seize controlling interest from Ranadive, sources told The Vertical, but on this there is little recourse… Ranadive’s mismanagement has set the rebuilding Kings back years, but that alone won’t be enough for anyone to remove him.
Sacramento, 21-30, has lost seven of its past eight games to fall four and-a-half games back of eighth-place in the Western Conference. Franchise honchos reportedly came close to dismissing coach George Karl following the black and purple’s 128-119 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, a game in which the team’s porous defense was at its worst. Two days later, the Boston Celtics torched the Kings for 128 points, 56 percent shooting, 13-of-24 tries from beyond the arc, and 34 assists.
Yahoo Sports also reports that Karl’s ouster is an “inevitability,” and that assistant Corliss Williamson – who played seven seasons of his 12-year career in the California capital – is more likely to finish 2015-16 roaming the sidelines than the veteran coach “barring a surprising turn of events.”
The circumstances preceding Sacramento’s steep descent back to laughingstock were difficult to imagine taking place barely more than a year ago. The Kings were the talk of the league after the first few weeks of 2014-15, riding a surprisingly stingy defense and the MVP-level play of DeMarcus Cousins to a 9-5 start. But the superstar big man missed 10 of his team’s next 11 games with viral meningitis, a stretch during which Sacramento went just 2-9 and the front office used as justification for the abrupt firing of Michael Malone.
Every awkward personnel shakeup, report of internal strife, and other source of consternation for Sacramento between now and then – from Vlade Divac’s shockingly rapid rise up the organizational ranks to the ongoing and ostensibly never-ending feud between Cousins and Karl – stems from Ranadivé’s typically impractical choice to can Malone.
This is an owner, remember, who believed his success playing a semblance of 4-on-5 while coaching his daughter’s youth team could translate to the game’s highest level. This is an owner who signed 7’5 Indian import Sim Bhullar, who had no legitimate chance to stick in the league, to a 10-day contract late last season in a wildly tone-deaf publicity stunt. This is an owner who would rather placate the wishes of his many celebrity guests than allow his team a much-needed airing of grievances in private.
Ranadivé is an owner, without questions, that’s proven every bit as inept as Joe and Gavin Maloof. Unlike the Kings’ former proprietors, though, their current one is a person whose pockets are deep and was initially well-respected within league circles. Ranadivé, basically, had a chance to run Sacramento the right way. The wide-eyed optimism gleaned from his purchase of the team was well-founded.
A billionaire groundbreaker for foreign-born sports owners who fought like hell help to keep the beloved Kings in their Northern California nest? Perfect.
But Ranadivé has demonstrated time and again – and will continue doing so in the future, too – that he doesn’t have the knowledge, patience, prudence, or maturity to help Sacramento become the organization its fans so obviously deserve. His fellow owners, who share 35 percent of the franchise, should do all they can to muster support for the cause of taking the team away from him.
That’s impossible, of course. The Kings’ minority stewards are powerless to force Ranadivé out unless he sells his controlling stake of the franchise. The court of public opinion swings a heavy gavel in the NBA, though, and Ranadivé clearly has a vested interest in how he’s perceived by peers of basketball, finance, and fame.
Bottom line: Keep fighting the good fight, Sacramento ownership underlings. The league is a much better place when the Kings are competent, and it’s more clear than ever that they won’t ever reach lasting respectability with Ranadivé running the show.
(Via Yahoo Sports)