Basketball Hall of Famer Joe Dumars, who joined the Sacramento Kings organization as special adviser to the general manager in 2019 and then became chief strategy officer in 2020, has left amid an apparent failed power grab in the front office, according to reports.
Dumars’ contract was expiring and he reportedly wanted more direct control over the front office if he was going to return. He wanted to be named president of basketball operations and have general manager Monte McNair report directly to him as opposed to chairman Vivek Ranadivé.
Ranadivé apparently didn’t want that setup, so Dumars left and accepted a role as the NBA’s executive vice president and head of basketball operations.
“My life has centered on the NBA for nearly 40 years, which makes the opportunity to serve the entire league incredibly exciting and rewarding,” Dumars said in a statement issued by the NBA. “I’m looking forward to using my skills and experience to collaborate with all 30 teams on ways to shape the future direction of the league and help the game continue to evolve.”
This is all so bizzare.
Dumars was hired in 2019 as special adviser and eventually forced then-general manager Vlade Divac to resign. This was where Dumars attempted to grab power, and it was all very apparent. But when he wasn’t given the basketball operations title and named chief strategy officer, he played a pivotal role in hiring McNair in 2020. The Sacramento Bee reported on the power struggle this week, citing unnamed source:
“Joe thought he was going to get the job after he ousted Vlade, and I think he was too aggressive in doing that.”
Over the past two years there were questions as to how much power Dumars in fact wielded. Even after he was named chief strategy officer, other team executives still wondered whether McNair was the one calling the shots or if Dumars was the real power.
It seems there is no longer any ambiguity on that front. With Dumars gone, it doesn’t appear that his position will be filled. So McNair will be in charge of basketball decisions.
The front offices inside NBA organizations, just like the locker rooms, are rife with intense competitiveness, jealousy, insecurity, and Machiavellian machinations. There are only 30 of these jobs that exist in the world and so many people want them, and when they get them they want to hold onto that power for as long as possible.
The Kings are a disaster as a franchise. Since Ranadivé bought the team in 2013, he has gone through seven head coaches and four front office lead executives in nine seasons.
In order for an organization to have success there needs to be stability at the top. This is anything but.
As the Kings zero in on their next head coach, Dumars played a key role in narrowing the list down to Mark Jackson, Mike Brown, and Steve Clifford. Now he’s gone. Are we sure McNair was cool with all these candidates?
Regardless, this is where they are now. The next head coach will be tasked with turning around one of the league’s worst defenses and ending the league’s longest playoff drought. Good luck.