Fact: Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé and then-general manager D’Alessandro had this exchange during the 2014 draft, when Sacramento selected Nik Stauskas over Elfrid Payton (who went No. 10 and ended up with the Magic) with the No. 8 pick:
- Ranadivé: “Stauskas or Payton? For me, Stauskas.”
- D’Alessandro: “I say Stauskas.”
- Ranadivé (pointing at someone else in the room): “Stauskas.”
- Ranadivé (smiling): “Stauskas.”
Rumor: The front office wanted to draft Payton, but Ranadivé overruled in favor of Stauskas.
Ranadivé, via Sam Amick of USA Today:
“So what happened (in the 2014 draft in which ESPN cameras were allowed into the draft room), and again – these guys didn’t want me to talk about this. I’d had another player who had tried out for us that I had liked, and that I had thought was great. And by the way, I’ll tell you, it was (Orlando Magic point guard) Elfrid Payton. But everybody else wanted another player – (Nik) Stauskas (now of the Philadelphia 76ers). And so they told me to say (Stauskas), and obviously I’m not going to say that I wanted Payton but they picked Stauskas. I made a big deal of all-for-one and one-for-all, so ‘Whatever you guys decide, I’m going to say yeah to Stauskas.’ That got put on camera, but what was I going to say, that ‘Hey, I don’t agree with their choice?’ Even now, with Vlade, I have a private joke with him, that if his choices don’t work out with him in a couple of years, that he’ll be shaving his head.
It seems Ranadivé and someone who was in Sacramento’s front office are just slinging mud at each other in the media. If it’s D’Alessandro, this is just a continuation for Ranadivé.
We’re left not knowing who wanted Stauskas and who wanted Payton (who has looked like a better prospect, though hardly infallible, so far). If he really wanted Payton, Ranadivé could’ve demanded it. He’s the controlling owner. If Ranadivé enabled a general manager and scouts who did poor work, that’s on Ranadivé.
We at least now know Ranadivé will publicly throw employees under the bus after the fact. That will hinder his ability to hire quality staff. And in that light, his joke about Vlade Divac shaving his head over a draft mistake doesn’t seem so funny – unless you’re laughing at Ranadivé leadership.