The Sacramento Kings have basically been one of the worst teams in the NBA since their glory days with Chris Webber and Mike Bibby. From a revolving door of coaches to constant roster upheaval, there are a number of reasons why the team has been so dysfunctional, yet it seems like most of the blame can be directly attributed to the decisions of team owner Vivek Ranadive.
While Ranadive has helped keep the Kings in Sacramento, got their new arena (the Golden 1 Center) built and put in place various marketing and technological advances, when it comes to roster and personnel decisions, he's been pretty inept. Although many of his past mistakes and curious ideas have been well documented, ESPN's Kevin Arnovitz details just how much Ranadive has truly mismanaged the Kings.
Like when Ranadive decided to get input from DeMarcus Cousins about firing Mike Malone in 2014 even though the decision was already made:
In mid-December, sources say, Cousins was on his way to a "Santa Cuz" gift giveaway at a Wal-Mart near Sleep Train Arena when he was asked to drop by the executive offices. The team wanted him to discuss an urgent matter with Ranadive and the Kings' GM at the time, Pete D'Alessandro. Those with knowledge of the conversation say Cousins was told by Ranadive that the Kings would win substantially more games with assistant coach Tyrone Corbin at the helm. Cousins replied by asking the owner, in somewhat colorful profanity, if he had taken leave of his sanity. When he then asked the brain trust about the timetable for its verdict on Malone, he was told the decision had already been made. Sources say Cousins then responded by asking why he'd been diverted from a charity event for a matter that had clearly been resolved without his input.
There is also Ranadive's ardent belief in his decisions, even though they keep failing:
Kings partners are profoundly frustrated with his governance of the basketball side of the team, as has been reported, and amazed that he appears to have been emboldened, rather than humbled, by seeing so many of his decisions fail.
"You would think that after making an ass of yourself, whether it's 4-on-5 or one bad hire after another, that you'd become more collaborative and seek out help," says a well-placed source. "Vivek has done just the opposite. Instead of putting together a brain trust, he's his own brain trust -- he and whoever the last person he talked to is."
And perhaps the cherry on top, is Ranadive's latest theory is that Russell Westbrook would want to join the Kings to form a Big 3 with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay. While Westbrook leaving behind success in Oklahoma City for dysfunction in Sacramento seems ludicrous, Ranadive's idea is even more ridiculous because Gay has repeatedly said he has no plans to remain with the Kings after this season.
One league insider says Ranadive told him some months back that he aspires to assemble a big three in Sacramento, with Russell Westbrook joining Cousins and Rudy Gay. Multiple sources say that Gay, who tore his left Achilles tendon on Jan. 18, has remained with the team rather than being dealt away because Ranadive believes deeply that the small forward would not leave Sacramento; this despite Gay's stated decision -- before his current injury -- to opt out of his contract next summer and his desire to be elsewhere as soon as possible, a sentiment expressed to the organization repeatedly.
"Welcome to basketball hell," Gay reportedly said to Karl upon the coach's arrival. But to Vivek Ranadive, it's inconceivable that Gay, or perhaps anyone, would want to play anywhere else.
Of course all of the blame can't be put on Ranadive. Cousins' temperament contributes to some of Sacramento's losing ways. Yet Ranadive's constant meddling has led to a mismanaged team since he basically assumed ownership.
The Kings do seem to have some hope with coach Dave Joerger at the helm and he has a good relationship with Cousins. Also, Cousins has reportedly indicated that he plans to re-sign with the Kings, which gives Sacramento a bona fide star for the foreseeable future. But perhaps Ranadive should take a step back when it comes to personnel decisions, otherwise Cousins and the Kings could be mired in mediocrity for a very long time.