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Divac on Hield: “He has to look in the mirror”

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Former Kings GM Vlade Divac had some parting thoughts on Sacramento’s sharp-shooting guard

Just over 24 hours after the Sacramento Kings ended their 14th-straight season without a playoff appearance, Vlade Divac received a call from owner Vivek Ranadive.

Ranadive approached Divac with an idea–and idea that Divac immediately shot down–of special advisor Joe Dumars assuming more of a decisional role, sliding Divac to a lower position on the totem pole.

After five seasons as the team’s general manager, Divac had no interest in stepping aside.

The Hall of Famer stepped down from his role on Friday afternoon, ending a tumultuous tenure with the franchise that retired his number-21 jersey years ago.

(Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)

Along with the resignation of Divac, fellow beloved former Kings great Peja Stojakovic resigned from his position of assistant general manager.

Over Divac’s five-year tenure as general manager, the biggest transaction that the 52 year-old made was the DeMarcus Cousins trade in February of 2017.

In return for the dominant big-man, the Kings acquired rookie guard and former college standout Buddy Hield.

Hield quickly showed the league that he is an elite marksman from downtown–hitting over 270 three-pointers in each of the last two-seasons while shooting 41-percent from beyond the three-point stripe for his career.

The 27 year-old has been Sacramento’s leading scorer, providing offense on a consistent basis in his time as a Kings (17.5 points per game from 2017-20).

Last offseason, Hield and Divac were involved in some problematic negotiations regarding the guard’s rookie-contract extension.

Hield was very open with the local media, even at one point claiming that if Sacramento doesn’t wan him, that he would look to other destinations. Divac eventually signed Hield to a four-year, $86 million extension with over $20 million in incentives.

While the contract was taken care of, Hield struggled to begin the 2019-20 season.

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

After shooting 41-percent from the field and 36-percent from the three-point line, head coach Luke Walton opted to move Hield to the bench and bringing Bogdan Bogdanovic into the starting unit.

Hield was displeased with the change, even though his production improved after the switch (45-percent from the field and 45-percent from the three-point line over 28 games).

Following the final game of the 2019-20 season, Hield was asked about his future with the Kings and if he was comfortable in his current role.

“Y’all know me. Y’all know how I talk, y’all know how I feel. Y’all can read me well, so I’ll let you answer that for yourselves.”

Over the weekend, Divac opened up to longtime journalist Marcos Breton of The Sacramento Bee about Hield and his departure from the team.

“He didn’t like the role he was in,” Divac said. “I support his feeling. But for Buddy Hield, he has to look in the mirror and see what he does right and what he does wrong. He’s an elite shooter in this league. But he has to provide that (consistent shooting). He has to do a better job defensively. It’s hard to win in this league.”

Hield–who averaged 19.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 39-percent from the three-point line–struggled during NBA bubble play.

Coming off of the bench, Hield looked out of his element, finishing with averages of 14.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists over eight games.

Walton only played Hield for 21 minutes per game in Orlando, well below his season average of 30.8 per game. Is it possible that the relationship between Buddy Hield and the Sacramento Kings could be falling apart?

It’s possible.

Luke Walton opted to play Bogdanovic and Cory Joseph more than Hield in Orlando–especially in late-game situations. For Joseph, Walton praised the backup guard’s defensive ability while in Orlando, meaning that the former NBA champion would get more looks in tight games.

As Divac mentioned, Hield’s defense is a work in progress, as is his ability to create off of the dribble and facilitate the ball without the high possibility of committing a turnover.

Bogdanovic put on a display in the bubble, playing his best basketball as a Sacramento King.

The impending restricted free-agent finished with averages of 19.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists per game while shooting 44-percent from downtown.

Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee released a story on Monday morning with insight from an anonymous NBA executive–one who claimed that Sacramento interim general manager Joe Dumars should trade Hield.

The executive also stated that the team should re-sign Bogdanovic and build around De’Aaron Fox, cleaning up the culture in the process.

With Divac at the helm, Sacramento keeping Bogdanovic seemed like a certainty. With Dumars in charge, that remains to be seen.

Bogdan Bogdanovic will get plenty of interest this offseason, with a price-tag of $100 million-plus surely to be attached. Will Dumars–or whomever Randaive opts to go with as the team’s general manager–sign Bogi long-term?

Hield is without question one of the top-four three-point scorers in all of the NBA, along with Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson and James Harden.

‘Buddy Buckets’ finished second in all of the NBA in made three-point field-goals in 2019-20, only finishing behind Harden by 28 triples. That is where Hield’s biggest skill is so apparent.

Knocking down three-pointer’s at the rate that Hield can is an almost unprecedented amount of accuracy.

Before Hield’s run over the last two seasons, only Stephen Curry, Harden, Thompson and Lillard had ever topped the 270-mark in one season. Miami’s rookie forward Duncan Robinson is the newest edition to the list after hitting exactly 270 three’s in 2019-20.

If Hield can’t be successful with the Kings, a contender will undoubtedly obtain and use him in the correct way–think Klay Thompson and J.J Reddick-esque–and that is going to hurt Sacramento fans.

Fox’s ability to draw in defenders and open up the perimeter is such a valuable skill, one that is even more meaningful when you have shooters like Buddy Hield waiting to catch-and-shoot.

Bogdanovic, who is also a lethal outside threat, is very good with handling the basketball.

Unlike Hield, Bogdanovic created a lot of his offense in the mid-range, hitting 55-percent of his attempts versus Hield’s 40-percent (from 16-feet to the three-point line).

Both players have different skill sets, with Hield being the athletic sharpshooter and Bogdanovic the slick play-maker.

Which will the Kings value more this offseason?

The Kings will in all likelihood look very different in 2020-21.

While it might not be a ‘Bogdanovic or Hield’ question, there will likely only be one of the two remaining in Sacramento next season.

Who will be the person in charge of making these decisions?

The decision on what to do with Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic will be a massive move that could drastically shape the Kings landscape for the coming seasons.

As the NBA Playoffs begin and the offseason draws nearer, the Kings will need an answer to that question sooner than later.

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