The Sacramento Kings have been hilariously incompetent for a long while now, but especially since Vivek Ranadivé and a group of investors bought them three and a half years ago. They have shuffled through front office decision-makers (Pete D’Alessandro, Chris Mullin, Dean Oliver) and coaches (Keith Smart, Mike Malone, George Karl) with many of those people ultimately hating each other, and repeatedly toggle between loving DeMarcus Cousins and doing things that piss him off.
Ranadivé has, reportedly, been centrally involved in all of this, as well as cheerleading the drafting of Nik Stauskas, promoting an insane defensive scheme, and so pissing off Kings minority owners—Ranadivé is the lead owner, but owns just 15 percent of the team—that some were looking for ways to take over the team.
But in a two-part interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick (part one and part two), Ranadivé says much of the reporting about him and the team has been wrong, repeatedly blames others for the Kings’ failings, and disavows almost all involvement in the poor decisions the team has made.
The one thing Ranadivé does take some responsibility for is hiring coach Mike Malone before he hired GM Pete D’Alessandro. He admits that the two hated each other ...
These two guys (Malone and D’Alessandro), they never spoke. They hated each other. They hated each other’s guts. It was like one person would say one thing, and then the other person would say another thing. And they wanted to get rid of him very early on, and I was the one who said ‘No, no, let’s make it work. Let’s make it work.’”
... but blames it on trying to import some sort of Silicon Valley Team of Rivals culture into the NBA:
The second thing is that in Silicon Valley, we actually value and celebrate a diversity in views and opinions, and I have this metaphor of this jazz band that I like to use, and out of that we try to create something great.
“But in the NBA, really the premium is on harmony, on having the front office, the coaching staff, everybody on the same page.
He also reveals that former Kings assistant coach Shareef Abdur-Rahim threatened a civil lawsuit after he was fired, but Ranadivé seems to have had no knowledge of it at the time:
Then later on, I found out that the GM had fired a guy who was part of the coaching staff and had sued us. (As Ranadive confirmed, he was referring to Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the former Kings assistant coach turned assistant general manager who left the organization in the 2014 offseason. According to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, the Kings – under threat of a civil lawsuit for “hostile work environment” – paid the final two and a half years of Abdur-Rahim’s deal.
Ranadivé denies he had anything to do with Drake visiting the Kings locker room right after Cousins and Karl blew up at each other, basically says that he hangs out with stars like Drake against his will because as the owner he has to, admits that Karl spent the entire summer of 2015 trying to trade Cousins, says he wanted to draft Elfrid Payton in 2014 but was shown on tape leading the team in drafting Stauskas because that’s who “everybody else wanted,” reveals that the team’s minority owners call up team officials asking for favors they have to turn down, claims the reports of him pushing a four-on-five cherrypicking defense were 100 percent wrong, and repeatedly answers Amick’s questions by telling him to ask Kings VP of basketball operations Vlade Divac instead.
Since Ranadivé bought the Kings, the team has been terrible on the court and rife with petty, useless infighting off of it. All of which makes Ranadivé look either involved and incompetent or uninvolved and clueless, and in the interview he makes a strong case for the latter.