In 2014 Nik Stauskas sat in front of the media at the NBA Scouting Combine in Chicago and recalled what made his meeting with the Kings different: Sacramento had a lot more people in the room than most teams.
It’s easy to understand how that can be intimidating to a young prospect, trying to figure out who is who for his prospective employer.
Who is in charge at this week’s Draft Combine is as clear as ever since Vivek Ranadive took over as majority owner in 2013.
That’s important for the Kings in a very crucial offseason as the team looks to remake itself on the court and repair the perception of the franchise around the league.
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Vlade Divac has the final say on basketball decisions, but the team around him for his third Combine is as solid as ever.
Ken Catanella was added as assistant general manager last year. Veteran league executive Scott Perry was hired last month as vice president of basketball operations.
Those hires help stabilize what had been viewed by many around the NBA as understaffed and too inexperienced under Divac.
That matters more than ever in position to hold two lottery picks in next month’s NBA draft.
The Kings are currently eighth and 10th in the draft order. The second pick comes from New Orleans as part of February’s trade of All-Star DeMarcus Cousins.
The Kings will keep the Pelicans’ pick as long as it does not end up in the top three after next week’s lottery.
The improved front office should help the Kings secure visits from top prospects. That hasn’t been easy for the Kings with Divac in charge, as prospects and their agents steered clear of what was viewed as a mess in Sacramento.
The Kings had the eighth pick entering last year’s draft, but only one player selected in the first round (Wade Baldwin) visited Sacramento.
Improving those relationships are a must. The Kings are hopeful hiring Perry will facilitate that.
Agents have privately complained about dealing with the Kings in the last few years. The team publicly feuded with Cousins’ agents before and after the trade.
That can’t continue to happen because agents are powerful in the draft and free agency, and they also help broker trades.
So if the Kings are to maximize two possible lottery picks, the front office being stable and able to foster better relationships is key.
Several top prospects are skipping the combine at the advice of their agents. Missing Chicago for prospects isn’t just about skipping interviews. Teams miss the opportunity for important medical exams, too.
“Agents have the power,” said former college coach Fran Franschilla. “I mean, that’s just the bottom line with these top kids. The agents ... have the ability to control the draft. That’s just how it has been in recent years.”
Perhaps the Kings are equipped navigate all of that this year.