Kings Blog

With most pieces in place, Vlade Divac looks forward to Kings’ training camp

hamezcua@sacbee.com

A flurry of free-agent agreements and two trades later, Vlade Divac likes the Kings’ roster entering training camp this fall.

Divac, the team’s vice president of basketball and franchise operations, is still looking to improve the roster but said the current group can contend for the playoffs.

“I think we have to see what’s going to happen in October, but I’m very confident this team can fight for the playoffs,” Divac said Thursday before leaving for the Las Vegas Summer League.

Free-agent additions Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli and Kostas Koufos and holdover Omri Casspi will be in Sacramento on Sunday to take physicals and finalize paperwork to sign contracts by Monday in time to be formally introduced.

“All the guys that should be on our roster next year, they’re coming from good organizations,” Divac said. “Our idea is to change the culture here. We want to move forward. We want to have a winning season.”

The Kings have not had a winning season or playoff appearance in nine years.

Vlade Divac said that Sacramento Kings head coach George Karl and center DeMarcus Cousins need to set their egos aside at the end of summer league mini-camp. Video by Hector Amezcua, The Sacramento Bee

Of course, much hinges on coach George Karl and All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins resolving their differences.

Divac described the situation as “not pretty” but remains opposed to trading Cousins. Still, he can expect to receive many inquiries as long as word around the league is Cousins does not want to play for Karl.

Conversely, Divac has no plans to fire Karl, even though the coach put out feelers for a trade for Cousins without the authority of the front office.

Divac wants to create a selfless culture that begins with the front office and filters down to the locker room. That feeling was lost during last season’s three-coach fiasco.

“What I want to create here is, it’s not about DeMarcus, it’s not about the coach, it’s about the team,” Divac said. “They should leave their egos and whatever they have on the side and try to be a King, and that’s what we all ask of both of them.”

Divac isn’t asking Cousins and Karl to become friends. He wants them to form a mutual respect that allows them to work together without their personal issues distracting the team.

“We tried to make an environment fun and try to have fun,” Divac said. “I told Coach I had a teammate back home and we didn’t talk for three years, but we were the best teammates, so that’s what I want. Put personal agendas aside and do what they can do best.

“ (Karl) needs to be the best coach he can be because he’s one of the best, and DeMarcus the best big guy in the league because he is. I’ll try to work it and see how it goes.”

Divac said the Kings improved at point guard with Rondo and added more perimeter shooting with Belinelli. Koufos provides another big man who can help Cousins with rebounding and defensive chores.

Divac said adding someone who can play small or power forward is possible. The Kings will seriously consider bringing in forward Josh Smith, according to a league source. The Kings targeted Smith in a trade last summer before Detroit cut him and he signed with Houston.

Divac said adding another big man and another point guard are also options. The Kings traded their third point guard, Ray McCallum, to San Antonio on Thursday for a second-round pick in next year’s draft.

The Kings have spoken to Andre Miller, a 39-year-old point guard who finished last season with Sacramento and is a favorite of Karl.

“I didn’t like (trading McCallum), but we tried to create more flexibility to improve our team,” Divac said. “At least we got something for Ray. We don’t have future picks, so it’s something we can look at.

“I was looking to find a good place for Ray. He’s a great kid and did a great job for us. I just felt he wouldn’t have much (playing) time here, and I think San Antonio is a good fit for him.”

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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