In mid-May, following the hiring of Mike Brown in Sacramento, NBA insider Marc Stein reported on the demand that was made known to candidates in the team’s hiring process. Stein wrote that they “were told that team officials are counting on a Minnesota-esque surge in the standings in Year 1 after a league-record 16 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs.”
Soon after, Sam Amick of The Athletic pointed to the fact that GM Monte McNair was notably not extended so that his contract duration could align with the head coach he’d just hired.
“Though Brown signed a four-year deal, sources say Kings GM Monte McNair is entering the final season of his contract and there have been no talks about a possible extension,” Amick wrote. “No matter how you look at it, that means there’s significant pressure on McNair… to break the league-long playoff drought that has become the bane of their existence.”
As both reporters noted, the Kings’ primary goal is to end this ugly playoff drought.
The franchise is treading on rocky water, though, trying to turn things around so quickly. Because this is a situation being kicked into gear very suddenly after years of sputtering in circles, there’s no guarantee it is achieved in the desired window of time.
In this space, we wrote that this all meant that “the potential for McNair to be a fall guy should the Kings fail to make the long awaited progression [into the playoffs] is extremely high.”
For a team that’s lacked stability and continuity, it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Not only does it threaten any chance for a culture to establish in a sturdy environment, it also reminded fans of the fact that owner Vivek Ranadive’s detrimental lack of patience and desire for control is always lingering.
It was this decree from Ranadive to make the playoffs—or else—that lead many to believe that Keegan Murray would, in fact, go to the Kings.
At the post-draft press conference, ABC10’s Matt George, with that in mind, asked McNair about this playoff requirement and how it may have affected taking the NBA-ready fit in Murray.
“There’s no mandate,” McNair said in regards to the first part while directing his vision upward and wrinkling his brow. “We’ve been very clear what our goal is: we want to win, we want to make the playoffs, and we want to continue to stay there. But there’s no mandate to do so.”
Does anyone buy that?
After all the head shaking that arose from the aforementioned reporting and following the nine years of Ranadive’s mismanagement that substantiate the reasons to worry, it makes perfect sense that there would be an organizational effort to hide the potentially disastrous pressure that rests on McNair and which threatens to unjustly turn him into a scapegoat.
It’s bad enough to set McNair up as the fall guy that Ranadive can hide behind if things don’t pan out next season, but to try to get everyone to believe otherwise after telegraphing that scheme from miles away is really setting up for everything to implode in grand fashion.
This has no effect on what the Kings do this upcoming season, but it could really summon a lot of collateral and longterm problems if the playoff drought extends to 17-years because another major shakeup—as well as what would be the continued lack of accountability from the top—could set this franchise back even further.
Is Monte McNair being honest when he says “there’s no mandate”? Should Kings fans believe that?