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Mike Brown’s Hiring Signals That Monte McNair Is Indeed Calling The Shots

(Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

It was as if the collective Sacramento Kings fanbase could see a dark cloud slowly approaching the city over the past two weeks.

Once reports surfaced stating that Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé had his eyes on former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, reactions exploded all over social media–mostly reactions of the negative variety.

Why the intense uproar, you ask?

Well, not only were there several questions surrounding Jackson’s candidacy, but many took issue with the fact that Ranadivé’s preference went against Kings general manager Monte McNair and the rest of the team’s front office’s choice of Mike Brown.

Brown, who has been an assistant coach for the powerhouse Warriors in each of the past six seasons, was widely viewed as the preferred choice for the role around the organization and fanbase.

Ranadivé, a former owner of the Warriors before purchasing the Kings in 2013, has been infatuated with Golden State since he departed from the organization.

Sacramento has previously brought in former Warriors assistants (Michael Malone, Luke Walton, Alvin Gentry) to the team’s staff over the years to no avail. Ranadivé has infamously compared some Kings players to All-Star Warriors talents Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, again to no avail.

Yes, I’m referring to when Ranadivé said that Nik Stauskas “shoots like Steph and is big like Klay.” Ouch.

Mark Jackson’s name has been attached to Sacramento since Ranadivé took over in 2013, but this past week was the loudest that those whispers had ever been as Jackson was named a finalist for the position alongside Brown.

Once various outlets echoed the same reports that Ranadivé and McNair had differing views on the team’s next head coach, an imposing question began to take shape:

Who is calling the shots in Sacramento–Ranadivé or McNair? The owner of the franchise, or a person who was hired to make basketball decisions?

Luckily, we got a clear answer on Sunday afternoon.

After years of reported dysfunction between Ranadivé and previous Kings’ front offices, it appears that McNair and his team are getting the green light to make their own decisions as they see fit.

Last month, The Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Anderson published an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the team’s past front office struggles as a former team operations insider revealed that there wasn’t a clear power dynamic or order of operations in handing basketball decisions.

Multiple sources told The Bee there is a sense that the dynamic has changed in Sacramento since the Kings hired current general manager Monte McNair to replace Divac in September 2020.

One of the team’s minority owners said he believes McNair is calling the shots without interference.

“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,” he said. “Does Vivek have the right to approve trades or give his input? Yeah, but I don’t believe Vivek is micromanaging Monte. I believe Monte is in charge and has total control.”

Former Sacramento Kings basketball operations insider to The Sacramento Bee‘s Jason Anderson (April 10, 2022)

As the “Jackson vs Brown” debates took place around the Kings’ fanbase, the real battle appeared to be Ranadivé vs McNair as both Jackson and Brown arrived in Sacramento last week for their second interviews.

Once it was reported on Friday that Jackson had interviewed for the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching position, it seemed as if Brown was on his way to becoming the next head coach in Sacramento.

Over the past 48 hours, Brown and his representatives negotiated with McNair and the Kings front office to lock in a four-year deal that acted as an emphatic answer to a concerning question.

The question: Who is calling the shots in Sacramento?

The answer: Monte McNair.

Anderson’s report from April indicated that current Kings front office employees have stated that Ranadivé is not meddling in basketball decisions. Sunday afternoon was another strong sign that Sacramento’s owner is staying in his lane.

This might not seem like a big deal to those who don’t pay attention to the Sacramento Kings, but it’s a notable development to fans who have witnessed the horrors of the past nine years.

By hiring Brown, McNair has made his own decision on who he wants to control this team after inheriting former head coach Luke Walton from Vlade Divac’s tenure with the organization.

Sacramento just capped off its 16th-straight season without a postseason appearance (NBA record). If there has been a prevalent aspect of the playoff drought, it’s been the team’s abysmal defense.

Mike Brown should be able to help find a solution to the issues that have plagued this team for nearly two decades.

Brown has an excellent track record when it comes to defense, having finished within the league’s top 14 teams in defensive rating during six of his seven full seasons as a head coach.

This season with Golden State, Brown has taken control of the team’s defense and led the Warriors to a league-best defensive rating (106.9) and a top-three finish in opponent points per game (105.5).

Sacramento’s offense isn’t perfect either, but Brown has the luxury of inheriting De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis as a fresh, formidable duo on the offensive end.

With Brown in the fold for the foreseeable future, all eyes will now shift towards the rest of McNair’s offseason as the Kings’ general manager will be tasked with handing Brown, Fox, and Sabonis the necessary tools on both ends of the floor to bring the postseason drought to a close.

Several changes are needed this summer for this Kings roster if the team wants to be in a position to contend next season, but McNair already has Sacramento’s offseason rolling in the right direction.

Monte McNair is calling the shots. Let’s see what a Sacramento Kings front office can do when you remove the training wheels.