Rumor: Kings management wanted to draft Elfrid Payton, owner Vivek Ranadivé overruled for Nik Stauskas

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In a look inside the Kings’ draft-night war room, owner Vivek Ranadivé and general manager Pete D’Alessandro discussed Nik Stauskas and Elfrid Payton while Sacramento is on the clock:

  • Ranadivé: “Stauskas or Payton? For me, Stauskas.”
  • D’Alessandro: “I say Stauskas.”
  • Ranadivé (pointing at someone else in the room): “Stauskas.”
  • Ranadivé (smiling): “Stauskas.”

Maybe they were just playing it up for the cameras, but that is a surprising amount of debate – i.e., more than none – while on the clock. And it’s the less-basketball-savvy owner, not the general manager, leading the discussion. A report of more draft-night disharmony provides circumstantial evidence something was amiss.

The Kings drafted Stauskas, and Payton went two spots later.

Payton made the All-Rookie team. Stauskas received a single second-team vote.

The book is hardly closed on Stauskas, but Payton definitely appears to have the brighter NBA future.

Chad Ford of ESPN:

I had someone from the Kings pass along this nugget in Chicago. That the front office wanted to take Elfrid Payton at No. 8. last year but were overruled by ownership, who wanted Nik Stauskas. Now, that could be classic CYA from the front office. Payton was who they should’ve taken and now, a year later, they’re making the case. But if that’s true, than Vivek may be the person who is ultimately deciding who they draft. In short, it’s really hard to have a good feel what’s happening in Sacramento. So many voices.

Maybe D’Alessandro, whose power has reportedly been usurped by Vlade Divac, is just trying to look better as he plots his exit. D’Alessandro is reportedly a candidate to become St. John’s athletic director.

But this rumor at least sounds plausible, because Ranadivé has such a history of meddling for the worse.

This particular example might be true. It might not.

But, even if it is true, how many times has Kings management wanted to make a move that would have turned out poorly? We don’t hear about those. There’s a selection bias in the information we get.