Sacramento Kings 2014-2015 season review
Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro has accepted a front-office position with the Denver Nuggets, according to a league source.
D’Alessandro’s departure ends a tumultuous tenure that began with high hopes when he was hired by new Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive in June 2013. But D’Alessandro was stripped of his decision-making power this spring when Ranadive hired Vlade Divac as vice president of basketball and franchise operations.
It’s believed potential candidates to replace D’Alessandro include Ryan West and Travis Schlenk. West, son of NBA legend Jerry West, is assistant scouting director for the Los Angeles Lakers. Schlenk is assistant general manager for the Golden State Warriors. Schlenk interviewed with the Kings in 2013 for the position that went to D’Alessandro.
D’Alessandro came to the Kings from Denver, where he worked under general manager Masai Ujiri. In his new position, D’Alessandro is expected to work for Josh Kroenke, president of the Nuggets and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
With the Kings, D’Alessandro orchestrated the acquisition of forward Rudy Gay, but he also was criticized for some of his personnel decisions. The biggest move D’Alessandro fought for was the firing of coach Michael Malone last December, which sent the team into a tailspin and angered his players. Ranadive said D’Alessandro and former Kings adviser Chris Mullin insisted firing Malone was best for the team.
Over the next two months, D’Alessandro alienated some players when he publicly suggested Malone would have been fired even if he had a winning record. Players viewed Malone’s firing as a personal vendetta by D’Alessandro, done without regard for the team’s performance.
The Kings were 11-13 when Malone was fired, but 2-7 without All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, who was out because of viral meningitis. After the team’s uninspired play for interim coach Tyrone Corbin, Ranadive insisted D’Alessandro hire George Karl.
That became the source of more problems because, according to multiple sources, D’Alessandro had told Cousins he didn’t want to hire Karl, who had been fired by Denver in 2013. But when Ranadive insisted on Karl’s hiring, reports surfaced that talks were stalled because Cousins and his agents did not want Karl as coach. The reports angered Cousins, who was a staunch supporter of Malone, who was fired against Cousins’ wishes.
D’Alessandro also was the reason former director of player personnel Shareef Abdur-Rahim left the team before this past season.
Abdur-Rahim disagreed with D’Alessandro’s decision to draft Nik Stauskas last year and expressed his belief guard Elfrid Payton would be a better fit for the Kings. According to multiple sources, Abdur-Rahim’s disagreement angered D’Alessandro, who then barred Abdur-Rahim from attending the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, even though assembling the summer-league team was part of Abdur-Rahim’s responsibilities.
Ranadive urged D’Alessandro to make amends with Abdur-Rahim, sources said, but Abdur-Rahim elected not to return to the team.
D’Alessandro’s biggest deal was acquiring Gay, but he also made moves that left many wondering about the franchise’s direction. He made a splash in 2013 by offering a max contract to Andre Iguodala, a deal that might have hindered the Kings financially. But the former All-Star declined the offer and accepted less money to sign with Golden State.
The Kings received only point guard Greivis Vasquez and two second-round draft picks in a sign-and-trade for 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, electing not to take on the contract of center Robin Lopez, whose defense would have helped the team. And in the deal that sent fan favorite Isaiah Thomas to Phoenix, the Kings received only a $7 million trade exception and the draft rights to forward Alex Oriakhi, the 57th pick in 2013 who has not played in the NBA.
Phoenix traded Thomas to Boston during the season and received a first-round pick.
Following the situations involving Malone and Abdur-Rahim, Ranadive sought a basketball voice who he believed wouldn’t have personal agendas when making decisions. Ranadive hired Divac in March against D’Alessandro’s wishes. Assistant general manager Mike Bratz, who also came to the Kings from Denver, is still with Sacramento.