Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive is aware some fans are angry coach Michael Malone was fired Sunday. Some have wondered if Ranadive will be a meddling owner who stands in the way of the Kings’ chance for success on the court.
Ranadive said he’s too busy to meddle in the day-to-day operations of the Kings, and he receives advice from adviser Chris Mullin and general manager Pete D’Alessandro.
Ranadive simply wants the Kings to become a playoff team this season and, based on the advice of Mullin and D’Alessandro, believes firing Malone was the right thing to do to make that happen.
“It’s kinda like we were in San Quentin,” Ranadive said. “Now we’re in Motel 6. But I want to go to the Four Seasons.”
Though Malone’s firing wasn’t viewed as the right move by many, Ranadive said management gave Malone the chance to move to a more free-flowing offense after establishing his defensive foundation.
Ranadive also cited Memphis, which did not retain Lionel Hollins after a successful run, and Golden State, which replaced Mark Jackson with Steve Kerr, as examples of teams that were not satisfied despite successful seasons. The idea wasn’t to have Malone fail so he could be fired, Ranadive said, but rather to see if he could adjust to a new style, even if it didn’t fit Malone’s beliefs.
“We said let’s see if we can give coach Malone the best help that we can give him,” Ranadive said. “Let’s get him a great assistant coach, let’s get him a point guard (Darren Collison) who can move the ball, let’s get him more help and then let’s see how that progresses.”
Even though the team started 5-1 and played nine games without center DeMarcus Cousins, things didn’t progress how management wanted. Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin was promoted and is expected to get the Kings to play as Ranadive desires.
And, despite criticism, Ranadive wants the key members of the organization to be able to share ideas, no matter how unconventional.
Ranadive brought up the idea of the Kings cherry-picking, leaving one man back for a 4-on-5 defensive approach, even though cherry-picking is mocked even during pickup games.
“It really talks to how open this organization is,” Ranadive said, “where you can brainstorm and there are no dumb ideas and you can debate different concepts and ideas.”
Ranadive said the cherry-picking idea really isn’t extreme. He said it’s about having a higher probability of scoring when protecting a lead.
“The really good teams do a 5-on-4 cherry-pick, but they call it a leak-out,” Ranadive said. “And you see that happening right now in the NBA. When you’re 10 points ahead and you leak out, and you maintain your lead.”
But in the NBA, players tend to only “leak out” when a shot goes up, and not stay back for an entire possession.
“We have very smart people, and they’re all way smarter than me,” Ranadive said. “If I say something stupid, they’ll tell me it’s stupid.”
Ranadive also disputes that he takes a too hands-on approach with the Kings. “That’s all completely untrue,” he said.
He said he’s busy helping run the software company TIBCO after its sale and sits on other boards that require his participation.
But Ranadive reportedly has meddled with in-game decisions. Yahoo Sports reported that Ranadive had D’Alessandro give Malone instructions, most notably asking why Malone didn’t play forward Royce White more last season.
White, a former first-round pick of Houston, had been released by Philadelphia after concerns his anxiety disorder prevented him from playing in the NBA. The Kings signed him to two 10-day contracts last season.
“I don’t even know who Royce White is,” Ranadive said. “That’s not something I’m doing.”
Ranadive said he had to call D’Alessandro to learn about White.
Postgame meeting – Cousins, Mullin and D’Alessandro met with Jackson, who worked Tuesday’s Kings game as an analyst for ESPN after Sacramento’s loss to Oklahoma City. Mullin, D’Alessandro and Jackson all attended St. John’s University. Malone was an assistant on Jackson’s staff with the Warriors before being hired by the Kings.
Injury update – Kings forward Omri Casspi (left knee bone contusion) is doubtful for tonight’s game against Milwaukee. Reggie Evans (left hip and knee contusion) is questionable and Rudy Gay (right Achilles’ tendinitis) is probable. Cousins (viral meningitis) is questionable.