Vlade Divac wasted little time immersing himself in his new job.
The former Kings star was named the team’s vice president of basketball and franchise operations on March 3. The next day, he joined the team for the final seven games of its eight-game trip.
Divac said he wanted a crash course on how to improve the Kings’ fortunes.
“Usually, it take like two, three months to figure out what’s going on,” Divac said Monday before the Kings hosted the Atlanta Hawks at Sleep Train Arena. “Being on the road all the time, you pick it up in five days. I took advantage of the road trip to see what’s going on.”
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Divac interacted with players and began developing a rapport with coach George Karl. He also met other NBA executives as he began to learn his new role.
His first stop was San Antonio. The Spurs’ front office is considered the gold standard in the NBA.
“My intention was to go and meet people and ask for future help and advice, and I always kept contact with (Spurs coach) Gregg (Popovich),” Divac said. “And I was supposed to come to San Antonio sooner, but it was a perfect opportunity to go there and talk to (general manager) R.C. (Buford) about how they built what they built and think we should do the same thing here. I think they have a wonderful organization.”
Divac also had a close look at the Kings, who went 2-6 on the trip. He noted the team has plenty of offensive talent. But the Kings displayed their many defensive shortcomings on the trip.
“You have to have a talent to play offense,” Divac said. “But defense, you don’t need to have a talent. You just need effort.”
Divac said he plans to use his overseas connections to help the Kings scout talent. He added he’s available to work with the team’s big men.
Joining the Kings’ front office also reunites Divac with one of his rivals, Shaquille O’Neal, a minority owner of the Kings. They spent time together during the team’s preseason trip to China.
At that time, Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive already had discussed hiring Divac in some capacity. Divac said he and O’Neal joked about the idea of Divac working for him.
“He always was my boss,” Divac said. “Let’s put it that way.”
Gay still out – Kings forward Rudy Gay missed his second consecutive game because of a strained tendon in his left knee.
Karl said Gay wanted to try to play, but after consulting the medical staff, the team held him out.
Karl said it had not been decided whether Gay would miss extended time.
“We’ll work hard (Tuesday) and have some time to talk to him,” Karl said.