Vlade Divac had the perfect view of potential triumph and disaster.
His seat on the stage at Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery in New York was directly behind Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, who revealed the order of the top 14 picks in next month’s draft.
As Tatum counted down from 14 to seven, Divac, the Kings’ vice president of basketball and franchise operations, had one thought.
“When he was pulling it out, I didn’t want to see our logo,” Divac said.
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Divac got his wish. The Kings didn’t fall back from No. 6, where they were slotted based on their record. Though it would have been nice to move into the top three, the Kings had only a 6.3 percent chance of landing the top pick, so Divac was content to remain at No. 6.
Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive watched the lottery before watching Golden State defeat Houston in the Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena. He said he was not discouraged by the team’s lottery fortune, noting Tyreke Evans won the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 after being taken fourth overall by the Kings.
Sacramento has been in the lottery nine consecutive seasons and never moved into the top three over that span. The last time the Kings picked first was 1989, when they selected Pervis Ellison.
“We have some options,” Divac said. “I think this class of rookies are very strong. We should be able to get someone who can help us next year.”
That could mean trading the pick. The Kings are intent on improving as fast as possible, raising the possibility of a deal for immediate help.
“I think we should be very open,” Divac said. “Our goal is we want to improve next year. We want to be much, much better.”
When it comes to a trade, Ranadive does not want to have any input.
“I’m leaving that to my basketball people,” he said.
The Kings do not have a second-round pick. In a salary-cap move in September, they sent their second-round choices in 2015 and 2016 and Jason Terry to Houston for Alonzo Gee and Scotty Hopson and a trade exception. Sacramento waived Gee and Hopson, both of whom had non-guaranteed contracts. Minnesota now owns that 2015 second-round pick, No. 36.
If the Kings keep their first-round pick, a variety of players who could fill a need will be available.
Should Sacramento look to bolster its depth at small forward, Duke’s Justise Winslow could fall to sixth. He’s considered to have the potential to be an elite defender, and the Kings need to improve their perimeter defense.
Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein also would help front court depth. He can play power forward and center and is one of the best defenders available. Even at 7-foot, Cauley-Stein can guard perimeter players as well as patrol the paint, which would give Sacramento needed versatility.
Two international prospects figure to be available for the Kings. Kristaps Porzingis, a power forward from Latvia, is noted for his athleticism and outside shooting, qualities the Kings covet in an ideal power forward alongside DeMarcus Cousins. Mario Hezonja, a swingman from Croatia, would draw consideration from the Kings partly because of his diverse offensive skills.
“Everything depends on which available player,” Divac said. “Some guys I know for sure can help us, but I don’t know if they’ll be available. We have to prepare and be ready.”
The Kings begin hosting pre-draft workouts next week. In addition to candidates for the No. 6 pick, they will work out players who might be on their summer league team in July. Divac will travel to Los Angeles and the adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, to evaluate players.
- When: June 25, 4 p.m.
- Where: Brooklyn, N.Y.
- Rounds: Two
- TV: ESPN
- First pick: Minnesota, No. 1
- Kings pick: No. 6