New Sacramento Kings general manager Monte McNair said he is looking forward to working with coach Luke Walton to revive a franchise that has the longest current playoff drought in the NBA.
McNair was hired last week after a long tenure as an executive in Houston to replace Vlade Divac. He backed Walton publicly during his introductory news conference Wednesday.
“I’ve got to know him the last few days, we’ve had some good conversations,” McNair said. “I’ve heard great things. So far I think we’ve had a great rapport. Luke’s going to be our coach next year. I’m really excited to work with him. I think we’re aligned with our vision and we’re gonna start implementing it.”
Walton is the team’s 10th coach since the Kings last made the playoffs in Rick Adelman’s final season in 2005-06. Sacramento went 31-41 in Walton's first season at the helm.
McNair and Walton will work together to end the 14-year playoff drought that is one year off the longest one in NBA history.
“I understand the frustrations of all the loyal Kings fans,” McNair said. “I’ve already seen and heard about their passion. I think we’re aligned on that goal. I was fortunate enough to spend the last 13 years at an organization where we were able to build those winning habits, that culture, where year in and year out we expected to be in the playoffs and compete for championships. My goal is to recreate that here. We’re going to be flexible and just be ready whenever that opportunity arises to really improve the team and get us back into that consistent playoff hunt.”
McNair inherits a roster that has some intriguing young pieces but has not been good enough to contend in the Western Conference.
Point guard De’Aaron Fox is one of the better young players in the league. Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 overall pick in 2018, showed flashes as a rookie but struggled with injuries this past season that limited him to 13 games.
The Kings also have a pair of talented 3-point shooters in Buddy Hield and restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic as some of the pieces to build around.
McNair is a Southern California native who spent 13 years working for the Rockets. He has been the assistant general manager since 2018 and also was integral in the team’s analytics department, working closely with the coaching staff on strategy.
The Rockets made the playoffs for eight straight seasons with two trips to the Western Conference final and seven 50-win campaigns thanks to a playing style that relied heavily on 3-point shots.
“In Houston, obviously we pushed some things to the extreme,” McNair said. “That was partly due to our personnel there. There are some tenets that we’ll apply here. We’re definitely going to play fast and space the floor. There’s a lot of versatility and talent on this roster. I think that’ll dictate how we build the team.”
Divac was initially hired by the Kings in March 2013 as vice-president of basketball operations and franchise operations. He became general manager in August 2015 but was unable to get the Kings back into the playoffs.
He traded DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans in 2017 and made the decision to draft Bagley second overall in 2018, one spot ahead of Luka Doncic.
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