Donte DiVincenzo dazzled a lot of fans in his two months in Sacramento, so when James Ham’s report came out at the end of last week that DiVincenzo’s camp is unhappy that the Kings have limited his value by keeping him from the starting lineup, there was room to question his future with the Kings.
“DiVincenzo and… his team are not at all happy with the Sacramento Kings,” Ham reported on his podcast. “They believe that the Kings very specifically did not start him down the stretch of the season to limit his value in free agency.”
After tearing a ligament in his ankle during Milwaukee’s playoff run last year, DiVincenzo’s return to the court was not the easiest, having got in 17 games of work before being traded. Since coming to Sacramento, however, he’s averaging 10.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.5 steals in 26.6 minutes a game. In addition to that, he’s closed out the final 10 games of the year shooting 40% from deep after struggling with his shot early on.
He’s also managed to play with the consistent level of heart and hustle every night to help contribute to a palpable improvement in the team’s defensive identity.
As a restricted free agent this offseason, the Kings will be able to match any offer made to the guard and retain him. But at the end of the day, as Ham asks, what’s this setting up for?
“We’re creating a situation where you have an unhappy player who might be forced to take an unhappy contract and who might not realistically be on board. We could see a situation where DiVincenzo makes it widely known that he does not want to return to the Sacramento Kings.”
The point is well taken. Anywhere within the vicinity of potentially spoiling a relationship with a talented player is not a road worth traveling down.
After the final game of the season in Phoenix, though, DiVincenzo may have eased many of Kings fans’ nerves when he expressed what seemed to be his own understanding that he will be in Sacramento next season.
When asked by none other than James Ham about what it’s like to come to the Kings—after presumably winning from high school all the way up to last year with the Bucks—and to focus on improvement more than anything else, DiVincenzo gave a positive assessment.
“You know what’s funny is we have winning people here,” he said. “Take the actual wins and losses out of the question—we have people that want to win at everything… We’re just not where we need to be right now and that’s part of where we’re gonna get to… We have guys that want to win and play hard, and when you have guys that are competitive and want to win you can build off of that and that’s what I’m focused on.”
While identifying his teammates as winners, DiVincenzo also acknowledged that he has a goal to “give everything” he has to the Kings—a team that traded for him twice—after being asked if there are any concerns regarding his fit there.
“The fans are actually amazing in Sacramento,” he said. “We weren’t getting the wins that those fans deserve… and for me that’s motivation… to give those fans something to cheer for and try to make the playoffs next year.”
DiVincenzo has been asked about his upcoming contract situation before, and he has revealed himself to be a true professional about the reality. After the loss in Miami at the end of March, for example, he was asked about it and said: “I don’t go into any game thinking about my contract. I go into every game trying to be the hardest playing player and trying to be the best teammate I can be.”
So, hope for DiVincenzo’s future as a King is not lost as it does not appear that either disgruntlement or a request to leave Sacramento is imminent.
In fact, DiVincenzo is just as eager as fans to see this business finalized, saying the thing he looks forward to most about signing a deal is not having “to answer questions about free agency.”
But even if the indications are that DiVincenzo seems committed to a future in Sacramento, Ham’s report still calls into question just what the Kings are thinking as they continue to try and establish that culture that will end a sixteen-year long playoff drought.