A day after finishing the NBA seeding round 3-5 and missing the postseason for the 14th straight year as a franchise, Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac stepped down, the team announced Friday.
Joe Dumars, the 2002-03 NBA Executive of the Year with the Detroit Pistons, has been named interim executive vice president of basketball operations and will immediately assume interim GM duties as well, according to the team.
“This was a difficult decision, but we believe it is the best path ahead as we work to build a winning team that our loyal fans deserve,” Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement. “We are thankful for Vlade’s leadership, commitment and hard work both on and off the court. He will always be a part of our Kings family.”
Divac, 52, was hired by the Kings in 2015 as the team’s vice president of basketball and franchise operations — a signature decision by Ranadivé two years after buying the team — after Hall of Famer Chris Mullin left a similar role with the franchise to become the head coach of his alma mater, St. John’s University.
Divac quickly added GM to his responsibilities, replacing Pete D’Alessandro, and cycled through two coaches — George Karl (2015-16) and Dave Joerger (2016-19) — before hiring Luke Walton in 2019 to a deal that runs through 2022-23, the same length of the contract extension that Divac signed in 2019 that he’s walking away from. The Kings have informed Walton that he will remain the team’s coach despite the resignation of Divac, sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Elevating Dumars as the interim decision-maker will provide stability through the upcoming NBA draft and free agency, a team source told ESPN. Among the immediate concerns facing the Kings’ front office is the team’s expected late-lottery selection in October’s draft, with just a 5.7% chance of the pick vaulting into the top four.
Also, guard Bogdan Bogdanovic will be a restricted free agent and Buddy Hield, acquired in 2017 in a trade for former face of the franchise DeMarcus Cousins, has voiced displeasure about his role after coming off the bench despite signing a four-year, $86 million contract extension last October.
Dumars, 57, could be considered as the Kings’ long-term replacement at GM if he is interested, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears. The Kings’ two assistant GMs — Peja Stojakovic and Ken Catanella — are expected to remain with the team during the transition, a team source told ESPN. Dumars and Ranadive spent time in the Orlando, Florida, bubble together, sources told ESPN, and observed the snakebitten restart for their team firsthand.
Four players — Harrison Barnes, Jabari Parker, Alex Len and Hield — tested positive for COVID-19 before training camp. A fifth player, center Richaun Holmes, inadvertently left the Florida campus perimeter to pick up a food delivery and had to go back into quarantine for 10 days. And most disappointing of all was when Marvin Bagley III, the big man selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft, suffered a lateral right foot sprain in practice and was ruled out for the remainder of the season before even participating in a seeding game.
Meanwhile, Luka Doncic, selected No. 3 in 2018, averaged 30 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists for the Dallas Mavericks in the bubble.
“Joe has become a trusted and valued advisor since joining the team last year, and I am grateful to have him take on this role at an important time for the franchise,” Ranadivé said in a statement.
Dumars, who joined the Kings in June 2019 as an advisor, has an executive tree that includes New York Knicks GM Scott Perry and Orlando Magic GM John Hammond. Perry worked for the Kings for a short stint in 2017 as an assistant GM and was one of the voices in favor of drafting point guard De’Aaron Fox with the No. 5 pick that year, sources told Spears.
Divac was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 and played six of his 16 seasons in the league with Sacramento.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the General Manager for the Kings,” Divac said in a statement. “I want to thank Vivek for the opportunity and recognize all of the incredible colleagues who I had the great pleasure of working with during my tenure. Sacramento and the Kings will always hold a special place in my heart and I wish them all the best moving forward.”
The Undefeated’s Marc Spears contributed to this report.