Posts Tagged ‘Vivek Ranadive’

Kings Start Off Season With Extraordinary Game



VIDEO: Kings open 2013-14 season with some flair

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two thousand two hundred forty-eight.

Two thousand two hundred forty-eight previous regular season and playoff games in Sacramento Kings history, 1,161 at the original Arco Arena barn followed by Arco II/Power Balance Pavilion/Sleep Train Arena, and never has there been anything like the one played Wednesday night. No. 2,249.

And counting.

It was another game, except that it wasn’t. It was the opener of the season that wasn’t supposed to be, with 17,317 customers in the building representing the hundreds of thousands from the region who were not. This was a celebration of beating Seattle and beating the odds much more than beating the Nuggets 90-88 to start campaign No. 29 in California’s capital city.

The greatest comeback in NBA history complete by overcoming the strong bid to buy the Kings and move them to Washington state, a passionate fan base danced on the unused grave a lot of others built for them.  It had screamed its redemption before, when the Board of Governors denied the Seattle bid on May 15 and again when the unpopular Maloof family sold the team to a group headed by Vivek Ranadive, but that was different. That was the offseason. Wednesday night was the tangible: their team back on the court.

Jerry Reynolds, with the franchise ever since the move from Kansas City as a coach, executive and, now, television analyst, spoke for the masses when when he said, “It’s a new beginning. It really is. I really equate it to the first home game in the history of the Sacramento Kings. The excitement and the optimism looking forward and all that, and I think that’s exactly where we are 28 years later. New owners, new front office, new coaching staff, a change in players. And more importantly, it’s a new enthusiasm for our fans. I go to the grocery store and people want to the talk basketball with me, and it’s different. It goes back to, ‘Wow, we’ve got our team. It’s our team.’ ”

It was a basketball game, and so much more.

“Oh, yeah,” Reynolds said. “No question. It’ll be nice to get to where it is basketball moments, but right now, it’s just way more than that.”

Minority owner Shaquille O’Neal showed up and, obviously delirious while caught up in the moment, started talking playoffs and even the No. 6 spot in the Western Confetence. (He also said of some former teammates who actually did make the postseason and then some: “There’s a lot of guys on that Lakers team that couldn’t play. Couldn’t play at all.”) Mitch Richmond, the former Kings All-Star who also owns a small portion, was there. So was advisor Chris Mullin, the ex-Warriors great among the many Golden State connections in the new-look Kings. John Doleva, the president and CEO of the Hall of Fame, came from Massachusetts. Mayor Kevin Johnson, the biggest local hero, the mayor who made Season 29 possible, was of course in attendance.

Commissioner David Stern was too. He walked the purple carpet set up for the occasion outside one of the entrances, high-fived some fans and shook hands with others. He generally got a hero’s welcome after many years of being wrongly cast as a villain in the raging Sacramento inferiority complex that the NBA was out to get the small market. It was never close to true – the reality is the Kings would have been gone long ago if Stern didn’t keep standing in the way.

Now that the NBA had backed the California capital, what may be his final trip to town before his retirement was as a hero. He got a loud ovation between the first and second quarters, as he stood at center court with Johnson on his left and Ranadive on the right and received the key to the city from Johnson. The mayor also declared Oct. 30 as David Stern Day, indicating it would be a permanent distinction and not simply this Oct. 30.

“I would say that we have a pretty appreciative group of fans here,” Stern said when asked about his new popularity. “For the NBA. I don’t take it all personally. The owners did the right thing. They had a vote to cast and they cast it in favor of Sacramento. They did it because of what the mayor and the new ownership promised and Senator (Darrell) Steinberg (a representative from Sacramento and president pro tempore of the state senate) promised and the city council promised. Every promise was kept that was made to the NBA and the NBA kept its promise that if these things happened we’ll keep the team here. It’s a grand bargain in the best possible sense.

“This is a very important opening night, and I go to important opening nights. Expansions. Rings. New buildings. And new beginnings. And this is a new beginning, just as I went to Memphis last year on opening night because they had new ownership. I try to get all of the places where there’s new ownership, but I also try to get to places that are worthy beyond that even of celebrating. This is a celebration of the Sacramento fans and what they’ve meant to the league and to this franchise.”

The game was broadcast live in India, Ranadive’s birthplace. The Kings dancers did a routine to Indian music and in native dress. Johnson hugged Stern with a stronger hit than KJ put on Magic Johnson when they rumbled in the Suns-Lakers days, jostling the commissioner. Ranadive presented Stern with a construction helmet to signify the planned new downtown arena. The crowd cheered everything, including, and deservedly, itself.

No, there definitely had never been anything like it. It was the night the city had been waiting for. It was Game 2,249 and Season 29 after all.


VIDEO: Thompson’s board work helps seal thrilling opening win for Kings

Kings Go All-In With DeMarcus Cousins

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HANG TIME WEST –
And so it turns out the last three seasons of DeMarcus Cousins vs. Himself, an epic showdown without a winner, was nothing more than a warmup. Spending the No. 5 pick in the 2010 Draft on Cousins was a pocket-change investment for the Kings.

The real drama begins now, with news the Kings and Cousins have agreed to a four-year, $62-million extension, a deal first reported by the Sacramento Bee. This is going to be a great ride.

If Cousins, the team’s mercurial center, finally learns how to get out of his own way, the new management team headed by owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Pete D’Alessandro has made a move of foresight that will save millions compared to what Cousins could have commanded as a restricted free agent next summer. They will have secured one of the better talents among big men — though not the most-talented big in the game, not even close — and the franchise will take a giant step forward. They will have cornered the futures market.

If this turns out to be more of the same with Cousins, DMC on a loop, the crater will be much larger than anything seen before in Sacramento. The Kings are on the hook for a lot more money now. They’re reducing the chance to offload Cousins, if Cousins remains Cousins. There is no such thing as a low-risk investment anymore.

In what should be the greatest concern for the Kings, this signing was more about emotion than basketball tangibles. Ranadive drove this with a very public commitment to Cousins before the GM, the guy with the basketball background, had been hired. The outcome will be determined by Cousins’ maturity and whether he can find the stability necessary to reach his potential and better get along with teammates.

With the opportunity to spend a season evaluating Cousins in a fresh environment and the advantage of him being a restricted free agent in July 2014, management instead moved now on the logic that, “Things will be different now. Just because.” The Kings have pledged eternal love. How could Cousins possibly not reciprocate in kind?

For months, every Ranadive statement regarding Cousins has included some version of how much the team believes in him, how Cousins was the first player Ranadive called after the sale of the Kings, and how Cousins is the future of the organization. Management’s vision is that DMC will rise to the occasion because he feels the warmth (though the previous administration made the same embrace).

They see no risk in $62 million over four years.

“I don’t see it that way,” Ranadive said a few days ago. “In some ways every decision you make is a risk. There are risks in games. Somebody could get hurt. Anything could happen. This is a young man of amazing talent. Few big men have that kind of talent. He’s healthy. He’s energized right now. He’s a very smart man. I’m excited.”

Report: Cousins, Kings Agree To Extension

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From NBA.com staff reports

At 6-foot-11, Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins boasts a repertoire of moves that make him one of the league’s emerging low-post players. Aside from those traditional big man skills, Cousins can handle the ball (just check out the play above), shoot with range, finish with power and make a crafty dish or two, too.

Those talents give him the look of a future franchise player and of someone the Kings weren’t about to let walk away in free agency. According to the Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Jones, who first reported the news, the Kings and Cousins have agreed to a four-year, roughly $62 million extension. Per collective bargaining agreement rules, Cousins, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2010 Draft, and the Kings had until Oct. 31 to reach an agreement on an extension.

The Kings have reached an agreement on a contract extension with center DeMarcus Cousins for four years worth approximately $62 million, league sources confirmed Thursday night.

The most Cousins was eligible for under the collective bargaining agreement was five years and $80 million. The contract takes effect for the 2014-15 season.

Cousins averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds last season, slightly down from the 18.1 points and 11 rebounds in his second season.

Cousins was one of eight players to average at least 17 points and nine rebounds last season. Dwight Howard, Al Horford, David Lee, Tim Duncan, Al Jefferson, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love were the others. At 23, Cousins is the youngest in the group, and he and Jefferson are the only two who have not made an All-Star team.

Cousins joins the Pacers’ Paul George, the Bucks’ Larry Sanders and the Wizards’ John Wall as players from the 2010 Draft who signed long-term extensions this offseason.

The Kings’ move to lock up Cousins may be seen as somewhat of a risk, given his many off-the-court incidents (he was suspended twice last season alone) throughout his career. But Cousins has apparently received votes of confidence from those who matter most: new owner Vivek Ranadive, new part-owner Shaquille O’Neal and new general manager Pete D’Alessandro. O’Neal, for one, specifically mentioned Cousins several times during his introductory news conference on Tuesday, while Ranadive and D’Alessandro have chimed recently as well, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

D’Alessandro, who has been scouting the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia, returned to Sacramento this week to join Ranadive in resuming negotiations in earnest Thursday with Cousins’ agents Dan Fegan and Jarrin Akana.

Cousins has averaged 16.3 points and 9.8 rebounds while frequently flashing his unique gifts for a player his size, but he has also led or been near the league lead in fouls committed throughout a career marked by defensive struggles. Cousins’ volatility has likewise resulted in multiple suspensions, including a team-imposed ban last December for what the Kings termed unprofessional behavior, which is largely why Sacramento insisted on a four-year deal instead of a full five-year max.

But the consistent praise Cousins has received from Ranadive since his ownership group won the battle with Seattle to keep the franchise in Sacramento had made it widely assumed in league circles that the Kings were prepared to make a long-term commitment to the 23-year-old. Sacramento is now banking on the notion that the security it has extended, as part of the fresh-start feel circulating throughout the entire organization, will lead to a more plugged-in Cousins.

After announcing the addition of future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal as a minority owner and mentor to Cousins earlier this week, Ranadive told USA Today Sports: “I don’t want to say anything premature [about an extension], but I’ve been constant in my support for DeMarcus. I reached out to him when we first closed the deal. He was the first person I reached out to. They’re out there practicing on their own every day and he’s out there leading those practices. He’s out there with the team practicing every single day by themselves. [The players] all came to Sacramento early. I don’t know if that’s ever happened.

“So ‘Dr. O’Neal’ and I are going to have dinner with him on Monday night, and Dr. O’Neal is going to spend a couple of days with him and the team. So I’m very, very pleased with everything that I’m seeing.”

With Cousins in the fold long term and a core that includes guards Greivis Vasquez, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas, rookie Ben McLemore and veteran forwards Luc Mbah a Moute, Carl Landry and Jason Thompson, Sacramento is piecing together a team that may make some noise out West sooner than we think.

 

Kings Moving Forward With India Plans

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Kings have started talks with the NBA and officials in India about playing an exhibition game in the native country of new owner Vivek Ranadive as soon as next season, Ranadive said.

The connection between the league’s desire to generate a larger presence in the second-most populous nation in the world and the emotional link for Ranadive comes as the Kings announce that the Oct. 30 season opener against the Nuggets will be televised live in India, with plans for a viewing party in Bombay.

“In India, there’s a billion people,” Ranadive said. “When they have a cricket match, there’s 600 million people watching. If we got a small fraction of that, that would still be a very big number.”

Having NBA teams play there, though, is far more problematic because of the lack of arenas at NBA standards. That would be the biggest obstacle for the Kings in India in October 2014.

“We have to find the right facility,” Ranadive said. “Right now they don’t have one. But we have a year and the NBA is very, very supportive about building the brand in India.”

Even though a year is extremely fast for this sort of project?

“I think it’s realistic,” Ranadive said. “We’re building a new arena (in Sacramento) and that will be done in three years. We’re very aggressive and ambitious.”

Blogtable: The Big Front Office Dude

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Making Training Camp Count | Shaq, The Owner | It’s The Name On The Back


Shaquille O'Neal, Vivek Ranadive

Shaquille O’Neal, Vivek Ranadive (Rocky Widner/NBAE)

Shaquille O’Neal is now an owner of the Sacramento Kings. Thoughts on how this will play out?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comOwners are overrated. No offense to the Forbes 400 set, but the best owners in sports are the ones who hire the right presidents, general managers and coaches and let them do their jobs. If Shaq were a big-man coach or a GM, he’d have a unique impact on the Kings (and presumably DeMarcus Cousins). But as an “owner,” he’s just another guy with a fat wallet. Maybe he’s buying himself a high-priced apprenticeship to learn front-officing for a future team and role. Or maybe it’s all a set-up for a reality TV show.

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comShaq is the icing for this new optimistic and opportunistic Kings ownership group and front office as they attempt to resuscitate the franchise. There’s few bigger names in the game than Shaq, no larger personality to shine attention on a woebegone basketball team. He might even punk DeMarcus Cousins a time or two, and that would be funny. It will be interesting, however, to see just how vocal a typically filter-less Shaq will be, win or lose, but especially if the transitioning Kings continue to play like the, um, “Queens,” of the past half-decade.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comI predict he will demand more touches. Oh, wait. That was the old Shaq. This one will work fine as long as he doesn’t start calling out players, coaches or executives. In other words, it may not work out fine. Maybe it’s a new day as O’Neal moves into a new role. Maybe he beats the odds and stays low key. If that happens, he can do a couple years and turn it into a larger role somewhere else. The Kings will have benefitted from the marketing, as well, and everyone goes home happy.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comIt’s interesting, but I don’t know how important it is. As the majority owner, Vivek Ranadive is the most important person in that organization, because success in the NBA starts at the top. And after him, it’s GM Pete D’Alessandro, because you need talent to win and right now, this team doesn’t have enough of it. If the new Kings are still the old Kings on the court, it won’t matter what Shaq is doing. Sacramento fans are great and a new arena will be a boost for the franchise, but current stars will fill those seats better than a retired one.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Things can only get better for the Kings, who have languished in basketball purgatory for the past few years. And no offense to Shaq, but the franchise has another big man who is far more important to their future. The Kings need Cousins to be their center of attention now and for years to come. If adding Shaq to the ownership group means Cousins has someone inside of the organization he respects, someone whose voice carries weight with him as a mentor, then this whole #Shaqramento thing could pay off down the road. The attention spike for the Kings with Shaq on board is evident and already in play (the Kings got positive vibes across the basketball universe with Tuesday’s announcement). But when the novelty wears off, that other big man is the one who will have to carry the Kings.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I think in a perfect world, Shaq becomes a public face and voice for the Kings ownership. Not that new majority owner Vivek Ranadive isn’t capable of doing this on his own, but Shaq is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and at the very least his involvement should give Sacramento a dose of much-needed excitement. In some ways it would be interesting to see Shaq take a role almost like a Vice President takes in the debate season, and becoming the person who takes shots at opposing teams. Because if anyone can talk a big game, it’s the Diesel.

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: It’s still difficult to think about Shaq not as a basketball player. But the Kings are a interesting organization in development right now, and the Big Diesel could help them out in making the right calls. I’m not only talking about mentoring Cousins, the best talent in Capitol City, Calif., but bringing the winning mentality Shaq had throughout his whole career.

Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: I’m really looking forward to this. The NBA was a great place when the Kings were relevant, and I’m optimistic that the franchise is moving in the right direction. New ownership, new coach, new front office — and now Shaq and a new arena in a couple of years: This will all help to bring the Kings back to where they were a decade ago. And Shaq might also help turn Cousins into the franchise player that he is supposed to be. Great news all around.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA Greece: Putting Shaq in the mix (in any mix) is always fun. And interesting. The team former known as “Sacramento Queens” (Shaquille’s words, not mine) has a new boss. Even if he is part owner, Shaq is the real deal — the true superstar — and everybody should be excited to have him around the hardwood once again. And because of what might come out of him, to be honest, I don’t know if it will better (from a fan’s perspective) if the Kings win or lose from the start.

Big Deal For Kings Is Bigger For Shaq

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SHAQRAMENTO, Calif. – First things first: This is a lot about show.

For all the attention the purchase is receiving, Shaquille O’Neal may merely have bought a sliver of the Kings, and anyone counting on O’Neal to be the turning point in DeMarcus Cousins’ maturing clearly never paid attention to Shaq as a player. Maturity was not exactly his game.

But new owner Vivek Ranadive has wanted big splashes since taking over, and O’Neal in the masthead is definitely that. There will be a new layer of attention, even if it is followed, someday, by the minority owner verbally trampling a player, coach or executive. Ranadive has his latest big splash, and this will be viewed as a great moment in Sacramento’s planned NBA’s revival.

The real value of the deal, first reported Monday by USA Today, is to O’Neal. This becomes one of the first steps in his move from Hall of Fame-bound center to the front office.

He has been aiming for ownership for years, and not in the usual way of thinking out loud that long ago became the O’Neal norm. This was a specific plan with no less of a partner than the very grounded Grant Hill. The two were game-planning the future when they were Suns teammates for part of 2007-08 and all 2008-09, two Orlando residents talking to other potential investors and thinking about a run at the Magic after retirement. Shaq would have been the general manager with a grander title.

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O’Neal (Bruce Yeung/NBAE)

Hill didn’t leave the game until after his Suns tenure, and owning the Magic never came close to happening. But O’Neal remained on the lookout. The Kings are an ironic, even humorous, landing spot. Especially for someone who during his Lakers day called out the team as the “Queens” and became an enemy of Sacramento, still probably a fraction behind Rick Fox and Phil Jackson. It has already been said by many others, but is so very true: Shaq will now own the Kings in another way.

Actually, the Kings are an ideal spot. In a lot of other places, O’Neal — never the silent partner type — would have been used for what he spent to buy in and what he could generate as an attention-getter. In Sacramento, he will be heard far more than in a franchise with a front-office structure already locked in place.

In Sacramento, he will have the chance to be part of real change.

“What interested me in this deal is the new vision, the new Kings, the new everything,” O’Neal told USA Today. “I’ve always wanted to be part of something like this … It’s going to be great.”

Plus, he steps into a win-win role on the court. If the Kings get a new Cousins — one who is focused, one who is not causing locker-room dissension — Shaq will blindly be handed a large portion of credit. And if Cousins remains the eternal problem … well, good try. No one else could reach him either.

“DeMarcus is so excited at just the thought that [Shaq] is going to be talking to him, going to be spending time with him, going to be watching him, on the practice court, that he just can’t contain himself,” Ranadive told USA Today. “When he first heard that [Shaq] was looking at becoming an investor in the Kings, he just texted me and said, ‘Can I please, please reach out to [Shaq]?’ ”

An ESPN.com report says that Cousins and the Kings are nearing an extension  that could be finished by the start of training camp next week.

O’Neal will think about becoming a general manager somewhere, now boosted by the additional background of having been in a front office. He will almost certainly still think about turning this role into a larger ownership stake somewhere else down the line.

This is an attention-getter for the Kings and an opportunity for him.

[Editor's note -- A Turner Sports spokesman had this to say about O'Neal's work with TNT and NBA TV and his new role with the Kings: “We have the utmost confidence in Shaquille, as we do with all of our on-air talent, to serve our viewers with objective analysis and opinions when they are on the air.  Shaq’s role with the Sacramento Kings does not change our expectations.”]

Silver: NBA Won’t Hold Hansen’s Sacramento Acts Against Seattle

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver says Chris Hansen's recent tactics won't haunt him.

Deputy commissioner Adam Silver says Chris Hansen’s recent tactics won’t haunt him.

Sure it seems a little sleazy, writing a fat check under cover of darkness in an attempt to sabotage your competition. Billionaire Chris Hansen’s secret contribution to a group trying to thwart the construction of a new Sacramento arena – even after Hansen had lost his bid to buy and move the Kings to Seattle – smacked of gutter tactics, like Alex Rodriguez allegedly throwing other PED users under the MLB bus or the old Committee to Re-Elect The President [CREEP] of Watergate and Woodward-Bernstein fame.

But just because something isn’t sporting, old chaps, doesn’t mean that it’s going to get in the way of smart business.

A proper sense of perspective figures to prevail if and when Hansen, on behalf of Seattle, attempts again to return the NBA to that city. That perspective looks something like this:

  • $80,000 < $509 billion.

Every day of the week and twice on Sunday, as a matter of fact.

Adam Silver, NBA deputy commissioner and the man who will slide over one spot when David Stern retires Feb. 1 after 30 years in the job, assured Seattle reporters that Hansen’s bit of chicanery likely would not be a deal breaker if he were to make another bid for an NBA team, via either relocation or expansion.

Hansen and two political consultants agreed Monday to pay a $50,000 fine for failing to disclose the donation for a petition effort on behalf of arena opponents. Its goal: Force a citywide vote on Sacramento’s $258 million in public subsidy to the project. Hansen’s bid of $625 million was rejected by the NBA Board of Governors, who chose as Kings buyers a group led by Vivek Ranadive for $535 million.

The anti-arena donation, which violated California campaign-disclosure laws, raised some eyebrows over Hansen’s tactics but probably won’t place hurdles in front of a renewed Seattle effort, should Hansen still be involved, reported Percy Allen of the Seattle Times:

“I would say it won’t affect Seattle’s chances,” Silver said Sunday in Springfield, Mass., before the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony. “I haven’t talked to Chris since those allegations came out. I think as he said, he got caught up in the moment.”

Silver also said:

“We have a lot of competitive owners in the league,” he said “I’m sure all of that will be put behind us.”

To put it another way: NBA owners didn’t get to be multi-millionaires and billionaires by letting little ethical hiccups get in the way of megadeals. Hansen’s ploy was bad form, embarrassing and worthy of some tsk-tsking in the mahogany-paneled inner sanctum. But a hastily stroked, pull-no-punches check for $80,000 isn’t about to scuttle a deal that could deliver a half billion dollar (or more) windfall as an expansion fee to be divvied up among the current 30 teams (that is the Forbes 2013 average franchise value, which was how Charlotte was valued when it entered in 2004). Or an even bigger payday for one of the league’s poorer sisters, moving the revenue-sharing NBA back into the USA’s No. 12 TV market.

The NBA, through Stern and the Governors, has been known to drive home political, financial and even ethical points before. It took a stand, some would say, choosing the lower bid so the Kings could stay in Sacramento. (And it did not, Seattle fans might allege, in allowing Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett to abscond with SuperSonics in the first place.)

But if Hansen remains the most viable option as a deep-pocketed Seattle owner, and the best candidate to land the $200 million subsidies for a new $490 million arena, there’s no way the NBA and its owners snub him. A Sonics redux would be good for business, with a lot more zeroes involved than the regrettable check Hansen cut.

New Breed Of GM Ushers In New Coaches

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HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – At NBA.com, the eight men who will make their NBA head coaching debuts next season are being profiled. Today’s feature is Boston Celtics youngblood Brad Stevens.

Eight rookie head coaches in one season is a notable development in a league known for recycling the position (depending on Philadelphia’s hire the number could reach nine).

Consider that last season’s Coach of the Year and 25-year bench boss, George Karl, is out of work, as is Lionel Hollins, who molded a 24-win team when he took over into a Western Conference finalist last season. In Denver, Brian Shaw has been awarded his first head-coaching gig and in Memphis, Hollins’ top assistant, Dave Joerger, is being given his first shot.

So why are teams suddenly investing in new blood? Is it simply cost-cutting? Is it a belief that new ideas, concepts and techniques are needed to sustain success in today’s game?

“For me, as a first-time GM, and where we are, we need to build something in Phoenix and I wanted to give a guy a chance who maybe hadn’t  been a head coach before,” said recently hired general manager Ryan McDonough, who chose Jeff Hornacek to lead the Suns. “I considered guys who had been coaches before, but the vast majority of candidates I interviewed had assistant coaching experience, but had never been NBA coaches before.”

The words to highlight: “…as a first-time GM…” This summer’s coaching evolution is due, in no small part, to a mounting front-office revolution. More franchises are handing the keys to bright, young minds to make decisions on player evaluation and acquisition.

McDonough, 33, represents the next-generation of NBA general managers — or perhaps more accurately, the now-generation. They’re salary-cap educated, savvy, motivated and highly invested in advanced metrics and new technologies sweeping the league. They don’t have on-court pedigrees like their predecessors, but they have tirelessly worked their way up through video rooms and scouting departments of NBA franchises. Evaluating a player’s skill, versatility and potential goes hand-in-hand with assessing his dollar value under today’s salary-cap, tax-heavy collective bargaining agreement.

McDonough hired assistant GM Pat Connelly, the younger brother of Tim Connelly, the recently hired 36-year-old executive vice president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets. Tim Connelly hired the first-timer Shaw, a tag-team that will learn the ropes together.

“I don’t think it will be a difficult transition,” said Tim Connelly, who replaced Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri, just 39 when the Nuggets promoted the former international scout to general manager in 2010. Ujiri now heads the Toronto Raptors’ front office. “There’s only 30 people with these jobs and we’re both [he and Shaw] fortunate to take over a team that’s had a lot of regular-season success.”

Of the eight rookie head coaches, three were hired by first-time general managers. In the case of Sacramento’s Mike Malone, he was hired by still-newbie owner Vivek Ranadive, who then hired first-time general manager Pete D’Allesandro, 45.

“When I was in Boston,” said McDonough, who worked under Celtics general manager Danny Ainge for a decade, “I kind of always had it in my mind that if I got a GM job I would give a first-time head coach a chance.”

In Memphis, CEO Jason Levien, 40, took control of personnel decisions last season. He parted ways with Hollins and promoted Joerger. Last summer, Orlando chose Rob Hennigan, 31, as GM to consummate a trade for Dwight Howard and reshape the team. Hennigan hired first-time coach Jacque Vaughn. Hennigan’s former boss is Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti, who was also 30 when he took charge of the then-Seattle SuperSonics. Presti hired first-time coach Scott Brooks to lead the Thunder.

In Dallas, owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, the longtime Mavericks decision-makers, surprisingly hired Gerrson Rosas, 35, away from Daryl Morey‘s front office with the Houston Rockets to serve as general manager.

Major League Baseball first embraced the analytics movement so prevalent in today’s NBA, and also seems to have cracked the door for the NBA’s front-office youth movement. The Boston Red Sox made then-28-year-old Theo Epstein the youngest GM in baseball history. Epstein built a powerhouse that ended the infamous “Curse of the Bambino” with two World Series titles. The Texas Rangers soon hired Jon Daniels, who was also 28 when he took control. During his tenure, the Rangers made both of the franchise’s World Series appearances.

The old-school GM played the game and then moved “upstairs.” As precision dollar allotment continues to play a larger role in overall player evaluation, the position is trending toward sharp, young minds, students of the game who never actually played in the NBA, and were only learning how to read when Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was in his prime.

Sacramento Welcomes Its Other ‘Rookie’ Class



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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sure he thought about it. Vivek Ranadive didn’t get to be swimming in money and a majority owner in the NBA by not considering risks to big decisions. Of course he weighed the drawback to stacking one inexperienced hire on top of another.

And then Ranadive did it anyway.

He hired a coach, Michael Malone, who had never been a head coach before.

He hired a general manager, Pete D’Alessandro, who had never been a general manager before.

Ranadive will have a toast-filled honeymoon in Sacramento because he replaced the unpopular Maloof family and the Kings will bask in a new energy because of the turnover throughout the organization. The new owner is making daring first strikes, considering he has been the primary decision maker for an NBA franchise for all of about one month.

Ranadive himself didn’t want to do it. He made the decisions in the wrong order and hired a coach first, when he should have hired a GM and left the major basketball calls to the basketball people. But he was fond of Malone from their time together in Golden State. And when he narrowed down the search for a personnel boss and considered Chris Wallace, Mike Dunleavy and other veterans, Ranadive was ultimately won over by D’Alessandro.

“When I started this process,” Ranadive said after the D’Alessandro hiring became official Monday, “to be totally honest, I was biased toward having a GM who had experience. Many years of experience. It was a very rigorous process. I interviewed some hard candidates. Quite honestly, when I spoke with Pete, he was a long-shot candidate. I went through a very rigorous interview process. I put these guys through the rigors. It was a few hours long, asking several questions, detailed questions. I did everything short of giving them an IQ test. Which I would have done. But this guy is amazing.

“I called (Chris) Mullin and I asked him that question the next morning. I spoke to Pete, it was early Saturday morning, I called up Mullin and I said, ‘Hey, what about this guy.’ He said, ‘He’s the smartest guy out there.’ ‘Is he ready?’ ‘Absolutely. No question about it.’ He was head and shoulders above, in my view, what I was looking for. Like I said, he was the smartest candidate, the hungriest guy and the most passionate guy. And you see that with all the comments that he’s making.”

Neither are total newbies — Malone had been an NBA assistant for 12 years with four different teams, D’Alessandro had been the video coordinator at St. John’s, a lawyer with agent Bill Pollack and then well-respected in front offices with Mullin in Golden State and Masai Ujiri in Denver. Both were considered rising stars in their respective fields. But that is not the same as the No. 1 chair. There is a learning curve, and now the two most-important people in basketball ops, as well as the owner, will be in their first season on the job at the same time with a team in desperate need for stability.

“I said to Vivek, ‘I’m ready to go,’ ” D’Alessandro said. “I was ready to go the second I sat in that interview and I think it came across that way. You know Masai Ujiri and you know he’s a guy who empowers. (Nuggets president) Josh Kroenke empowers. Chris Mullin empowers. I got to do a lot of things for a lot of really talented people. Is there a learning curve? I’m never done learning. But as far as being ready? I don’t feel like a first-time GM.”

This part of the growing Warriors connection, Ranadive said, is more coincidence. The new majority owner came from the franchise 80 miles away, the new coach as well, but D’Alessandro’s time with Golden State did not cross with Ranadive. Similarly, he did not work with Mullin, who is on the verge of joining the Sacramento re-birth as well, likely in a consultant role.

Malone Takes On Multiple Roles In Sacramento … For Now


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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Michael Malone is very experienced as an assistant, as well as smart and hard working. After serving as the No. 2 man in Golden State, he’s a graduate and believer of the Mark Jackson School of Empowering Players.

Malone is going to be a successful coach one day, maybe one day soon.

The first days in the first job, though, have been complicated. He was hired by the Kings before a general manager was, a backward approach by new owner Vivek Ranadive that could hurt Sacramento’s chances of landing the GM it wants. Any top GM candidate would expect the power to put the team together or, in the other risk, the eventual hire will arrive as something other than a staunch Malone ally.

Now, Ranadive has raised the possibility that the general manager will not be hired by June 27, telling NBA.com on Monday: “I want to get the right GM. I do expect to have a GM by the Draft, but that’s not a promise.”

So, Malone has also been forced to assume the lead role in Draft prep, running workouts until further notice — as was the case with French center Rudy Gobert as the headliner Monday — and going over tapes of prospects. At least Malone and Ranadive have the experienced hand of Geoff Petrie to advise during a very important time for the team with the seventh pick — the same Petrie who is being replaced.

And if no GM is in place by Draft night?

“Michael will be involved,” Ranadive said. “But I’ll be making the call.”

There is little chance that happens. The Kings will almost certainly hire a general manager by then. And missing workouts in Sacramento is not much of a setback either, as any candidate has either been working in a front office all season or been watching college games in hopes of getting a job. But if the owner is not saying a hire in time for the Draft is an absolute, the slim doubt has some reality.

The potential complication of hiring the coach before hiring the personnel director with a better understanding of rosters and coaches, that is definitely real.

“It’s a very valid question,” Malone said. “I was thinking about it last week and then I realized when I got hired in Cleveland, (coach) Mike Brown was hired before (then-GM) Danny Ferry. The luxury they had was they knew each other. There was a pre-existing relationship. It happened with (former coach) Eddie Jordan in Washington, with (GM) Ernie Grunfeld. It happened with Rick Pitino in the past.

“It’s not the normal protocol, as we all know in the NBA, but I’m hoping that obviously whoever comes in as the GM will not look at it like, ‘Well, he was hired before me. He’s not my guy.’ Because the reality is, if this is going to be able to have success, we’re going to have to be able to coexist, communicate and work with each other.

“It’s definitely [a risk]. And that’s going to come down, I’m sure, to the comfort level for the GM. There’s some guys that may have been interested in this job who now that [the Kings] have committed to me may be taken aback by that or say, ‘What message is that sending?’ Obviously, I can’t control that. My only hope is that Vivek will get the best GM possible because that GM is going to help me with my job as the head coach moving forward. I know from my end, it will not be a problem. But I cannot speak for the prospective general managers that come in here, how they’ll deal with it.”

Said Ranadive: “I know it was unconventional. I think we’re in unconventional times right now. The timing in terms of when the deal closed, when the Draft was, we didn’t want to waste a lot of time. It’s no secret coach Malone was the most-highly sought after assistant coach out there. Everybody wanted him … [This] his was a situation where I wasn’t 99 percent sure. I was 100 percent sure. I consulted with various people and the feeling was unanimous we should make this happen and make this happen right away. I invited the coach to come and have lunch with me. We sat down and talked about it and we shook hands at the end of it.”

Other teams were showing interest in Malone, a highly regarded assistant for many years. But, he said, “Out of all the jobs I could have been involved with, this is the one that excited me the most.”