Vlade Divac: Kings Aren't 'Desperate' to Make NBA Playoffs

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2018

SACRAMENTO, CA - JUNE 23: GM Vlade Divac looks on as Marvin Bagley III of the Sacramento Kings is introduced to the media on June 23, 2018 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)Vlade Divac
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

The Sacramento Kings are the NBA's biggest surprise, sitting just a half game out of a playoff spot and just 4.5 back from the top seed in the packed Western Conference.

That doesn't mean the team is going to get desperate to accelerate their growth process.

"If you look at the standings, we're in the playoffs. But are we desperate to do it? No, we're not," Kings vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac told Sam Amick of The Athletic. "Do we want to be there? Yeah. Are we going to push? Yeah. The players are playing for it. We are supporting it. If I have to do something to help them, yeah I will do it. But not just from desperation and to sacrifice everything that we've built.

"They made a huge step. I didn't come here three or four years ago to make the playoffs. I came here to do some unfinished business, to build a championship team."

The Kings have not made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. Divac, at the time, was two years removed from being the team's starting center. He has overseen basketball operations since 2015, a time period in which he's drawn near-constant scrutiny over his qualifications and personnel choices.

Divac said he's learned to ignore the outside noise. 

"I'm competitive. I know how to deal with that type of stuff," Divac said. "I just ignore, because those people, I know they want the best for the Kings, but they don't know the details. They don't know behind the curtain, they don't know a lot of different stuff. For me, it was like, 'OK, just give me time,' and time came.

" ... I didn't have experience as a GM, so I didn't know the salary cap and somehow we end up with $50-60 million (in cap room) this summer. I was lucky, I guess. (Laughs)."

Like any general manager, Divac has had some strong moments and some weak ones. DeMarcus Cousins' Achilles injury made his trade to the New Orleans Pelicans look strong in hindsight, especially with Buddy Hield emerging as a stellar player on the wing. Willie Cauley-Stein has come along gradually and should have a strong career as at least a league-average starting center.

On the other end of the spectrum, massive contracts given to George Hill and Zach Randolph last offseason were giant missteps. The Kings are also already feeling a little weary about the Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic call, with Doncic emerging as a potential foundational piece in Dallas. 

But with the Kings hanging out in the playoff race, the organization is in a far better position than when Divac joined.

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