After much anticipation, the Kings finally inked general manager Monte McNair to a three-year contract extension that will align with the four-year contract head coach Mike Brown signed last May.
Along with them, assistant general manager Wes Wilcox is also being extended, preserving the front office unit that reshaped the roster, brought in a new coaching staff, and set this team up for the success it is experiencing today. The very success, in fact, that is well on pace to end the sixteen-year playoff drought.
At the time the news broke, the Kings stand at third in the Western Conference with a 27-19 record, which makes for the eighth best winning-percentage in the entire NBA.
On top of that, with guys like Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, and Keegan Murray placed beside De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes, McNair has equipped coach Brown with the necessary tools to have the number-one offense in the league that averages over 120 points per game.
For the first time in recent memory–in some fans’ lives, really–the Sacramento Kings are a team with a direction, one that is promising given the two-man foundation of Fox and Sabonis along with the youthful core that is on the cusp of playing the best basketball of their careers.
Though it was slow to start when he first took over, the measured and meticulous approach of McNair has been paying off and the job he has done to get the team where it is now speaks for itself. The previous year or so in particular illustrates just how much of a maestro he’s been.
Hard as it was for some fans, the ability to flip an asset you had savvily evaluated and drafted for a two-time all-star whose presence nearly singlehandedly clarifies the team’s direction speaks unbelievably well of his judgement and understanding of how to carry out one of the most difficult jobs in sports. And one can’t forget the other prong of brilliance in that trade from last year; that is, the fact he dumped Buddy Hield’s $21.1 million contract, which allowed for the offseason that ultimately unfolded for the Kings this past summer.
This is his creation ultimately and he’s earned every bit of praise.
As reported by Jason Anderson at the end of last season, shortly after the Kings had officially reached that sixteen-year mark and after years of poor operation in Sacramento, an unnamed minority owner claimed it was McNair who was indeed running the show.
“I’ve looked people in the eye and said, ‘We know this has been a problem. Is it a problem today?’ They’re telling me it’s not,” the minority owner told The Sacramento Bee, alluding to the problem of owner Vivek Ranadive’s track record.
“Does Vivek have the right to approve trades or give his input? Yeah, but I don’t believe Vivek is micromanaging Monte,” the source added. “I believe Monte is in charge and has total control.”
To be one-hundred percent fair, credit has to go to Ranadive, too.
For one, he did what he had to do: he secured McNair’s place within the organization for some time. Extending McNair is clearly the owner’s most commendable moment because it is the one that most aligns with his mission to oversee a winning organization.
And two, given that track record, it must have taken a lot of self control to follow through here. Some amount of self-reflection–a lesson maybe–had to have taken place for McNair to come in to the job and be given the freedom to do what he, the basketball mind, thinks is wisest.
Seriously, there is truly something about taking over ownership making farcical suggestions without realizing the humor of it–such as the brilliant and daring idea to play 4-on-5 defensively with a man cherrypicking on offense–and maturing from that pit to a point where he is able to take a step back and let the basketball minds do the basketball work. That takes at least some degree of growth.
Even if Ranadive went from thinking he could be a real life and serious Jackie Moon–the player, general manager, and owner–to being on his way to becoming the king of celebrity photo-ops, at least that’s an evolution that benefits the wits of Kings fans.
Although, it’s dubious at best to assume there was much if any self-reflexive honesty on the part of Ranadive for some of the more regrettable moments since 2013, he at the very least seemed to realize that ceasing the meddling with basketball affairs could be akin to a great investment.
Whatever it takes to come to the understanding, right? For fans, who likely just wanted competitive basketball, at least they can reap the rewards of this particular investment.
At the end of the day–no matter how much of a no-brainer it was–extending McNair is an all-around astute decision that rewards the work he’s done and tees up the necessary environment for more.
The question of what exactly took so long remains, but it’s hardly relevant now that the ink is dried. All anyone can say–from fans to those around the league to Ranadive–is that the Kings are in good hands.