The fact that both Mike Brown and Monte McNair’s contracts are not lined up has been a source of angst. Being assured that the head coach and general manager are on the same timeline would instill a lot of added confidence to the view on the path ahead, but the topic of a McNair extension does not appear imminent.
It’s obvious the potential exists that an expiring contract could be a sign that Vivek Ranadive expects hard results from his GM, that the “pressure” is on to deliver, and that the progress of McNair’s tenure could be thrown in a vacuum if the owner’s chronicled obsession with springing upon success gets the best of him in the event of any failure to meet said expectations.
One just can’t put it past Ranadive.
However, at the same time, the other side should be considered, too.
Before bringing Barry Bonds along to the practice facility, Ranadive attended a press conference at Sutter Health Field across the river in West Sacramento to commemorate the tycoon’s purchase of the River Cats. Per Jason Anderson of The Sac Bee, the Kings owner was asked about the front office and McNair’s contract specifically.
Ranadive mentioned that all parties involved have “been heads down, focused on the season.” He added that he’s “very pleased” with everything McNair and the front office have done from the Sabonis trade in February to the start of camp, saying “the focus is: Let’s win.”
In conclusion, the owner noted that he feels that the “future is bright” and he’s “super excited for this season.”
The question has to be asked: Then why don’t you give him the extension?
Based on his comments, the lack of an extension lends some credence to that aforementioned flips side.
What if the pressure isn’t on McNair? What if he actually has the leverage?
On his Kings Beat Podcast this week, James Ham played the part of devil’s advocate, suggesting the possibility that maybe McNair has the chance “to write his own ticket.” Here’s what he said:
“If we get to the end of the season and somehow he’s built a winner in Sacramento, and other teams can come at him because he’s not under contract and he’s the one who flipped this thing around and turned it around and built something different, he’s going to be able to write his own ticket somewhere. And it might not be Sacramento, and that will be on ownership, that will be their fault if they let the guy who turned this thing around get away.”
“At this point, he’s probably looking at it and thinking ‘I did a pretty good job, and if I have enough leeway to make one or two more moves as we move along during the season, I can put this thing over the top and then I do get to write my own ticket, be it in Sacramento or somewhere else.'”
The concept that McNair could be betting on himself to either wring more money from a deal with Sacramento or to secure that desired amount somewhere else can’t be ignored because it actually makes sense.
Part of the reason that an unextended contract is of particular concern is because of the fact that seemingly everyone can recognize McNair has already done plenty in terms of getting things rolling in the right direction, putting together the most talented training camp group in recent memory in the nearly eight months since Sabonis was acquired.
It is a little baffling, but it stands to reason that such confidence in the year ahead substantiates the idea of McNair wanting to sit back and bank on a bigger pay stub. He might feel sure of himself, which would align with what Ham was quick to note at Media Day: that the general manager seemed far more “comfortable” and relaxed.
And this might not have anything to do with McNair leaving necessarily. As noted, perhaps he has no wish to leave and simply wants to bet on himself.
Better, maybe Ranadive and his current GM are under the mutual understanding that an extension is in line, but the details on the exact figures will depend on the outcome of the season.
Assuming that’s the case, it makes sense that such an arrangement wouldn’t be publicized.
For one, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming forth and being transparent about that when it can just as well be left in the background.
And two, it would call blatant attention from the rest of the league, which could lead to the exact scenario Ham described where Vivek Ranadive, with egg on his face, witnesses McNair depart to another destination.
It’s not at all clear what the situation truly is, but McNair could very well have more leverage than initially assumed.
While things could work out by the end of the year—or even before then—the fact remains that if indeed McNair all of a sudden can’t be retained, then that would be a massive blunder for the ownership and a colossal setback for the franchise.