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By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor - Archive - Email
Ranadive may be a mad genius
Vivek Ranadive Vivek Ranadive is a man who won't settle for anything but the best.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Vivek Ranadive is widely credited with being one of the principal reasons the Kings still reign in Sacramento.

His ownership exhilarated a new fanbase and he helped expel the increasingly aloof Maloof brothers from the hierarchy of the Kings.

Ranadive's methods have been strange to say the least. Publicly, the Kings' owner has tinkered with the idea of having his team play 4-on-5 on the defensive end with an offensive cherry-picker hanging back.

The Kings' D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, average a staggering 138.5 ppg. Sure, they allow 136.3 ppg, but they're 6-5.

The latest strangeness around Ranadive and the Kings was the abrupt dismissal of head coach Mike Malone earlier in the week. The Kings are 11-14, but 2-9 since DeMarcus Cousins left the lineup. The first record is very respectable in the brutal Western Conference and the second record is expected when the best player is unavailable.

Ranadive hired Malone before he hired his GM, Pete D'Alessandro, a move Ranadive acknowledged was out of order.

"I know it was unconventional to get the coach before we got the GM," Ranadive conceded in an interview with Sacramento's News10. "I consulted some of the experts in the game. They said Malone was the right guy and we should get him as soon as we could ... Malone was exactly what the doctor ordered."

How could Malone be "exactly what the doctor ordered," then be unemployed just a season and 24 games later?

"Everything was literally and figuratively falling apart," Ranadive explained to News10. "There was chaos, even anarchy in the locker room. The draft was weeks away. We needed to get a coach in place who would restore order."

Malone must have done that. In all my years watching the NBA, let alone covering it, I never witnessed a coach publicly call out his team to the media like Malone did. He wouldn't throw guys under the bus, he'd do that, back them over with the bus, then repeat.

But, as Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported, Malone softened a bit. Wojnarowski reported that Malone traveled to visit Cousins and Rudy Gay while they were on Team USA for the FIBA World Cup this summer. Wojnarowski even went as far as to say Malone was a big reason for Gay extending his contract in Sacramento and that Malone was getting through to Cousins, who could, at times, be a little difficult.

So why then, fire the team's coach, a coach who was hired without approval of either D'Allesandro, or Ranadive's closest advisor, Chris Mullin, this early while the team is progressing and while the team's best player has VIRAL MENINGITIS?

"The Western Conference is arguably the most competitive that it has ever been," Ranadive explained. "It's a little like the hi-tech business. Just because you invent the iphone, doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels. Just because you win 50 games, you can't be satisfied with the status quo.

"We live in a time when good enough, isn't. We need to take this to the next level. We needed to pivot so that we move from a great defensive orientation to having both defense and offense. Move from an isolation offense to a more free-flowing offense. Move from a rules-based culture which was important when there was chaos, to more of a value-based culture so you can have more of a read-and-respond offense."

Wow, that's interesting, equating a value-based culture to a fluid NBA offense. It's certainly not owner speak. That's a detailed, thought-out offering from someone who takes his job very seriously.

Ranadive also said that the D'Alessandro/Mullin combination made the final call, but Ranadive's explanation was candid and very much forward-thinking.

Clearly, offense is a big part of the problem Ranadive had with Malone. Owners meddling in sports matters is older than fire. Does Ranadive understand what he has in Cousins? A dominant, two-way big man who can shoot and pass, all while 24 years of age is a unique commodity. Does he want to flush Cousins' impact in the future for the love of offense?

Maybe he does, but Ranadive is a man who won't settle for anything but the best. Mark Cuban is a Maverick in team name and in personality. He did things oddly it seemed, and he's always had a hand in things. Now, Cuban is an elite, shrewd owner who has a championship ring and one of the most consistently strong teams every season.

Cuban also backed off and let the basketball people run things when needs be. Wojnarowski said Ranadive really wanted Detroit's Josh Smith and told other owners Malone didn't, yet still pursued him. That's too meddlesome and he'll need to curb that kind of behavior.

But Ranadive isn't willing to settle. Doesn't that pinpoint exactly what a fanbase should look for in an owner? Progress is fine, but when that progression plateaus, he'll find the next guy for the next level. Ranadive used Malone to balance his roster out mentally, then chucked him. It's like when Bane snapped that dude's neck who provided money and infrastructure, although the comparison is not exactly flawless.

Ranadive's methods are goofy, but his mind is where it should be.

There will still be issues to flesh out for Ranadive going forward.

Will any worthwhile coach want to work for an owner who fires coaches when the best player is away? Will any worthwhile coach want to work for an owner who fires coaches a little over 100 games into his tenure? Will any worthwhile coach want to work for an owner who wants to employ a 4-on-5 strategy?

Ty Corbin is not the answer. He didn't do anything of note with the Utah Jazz and he won't in Sacramento. George Karl's name was pumped up early based on the fact he has a working relationship with D'Alessandro, but that's already appeared to fizzle.

Sam Amick of USA Today reported that Mullin, D'Alessandro and Cousins met with Mark Jackson after he called the game for ESPN Tuesday night. That would be fun - taking the most recent genius who butted heads with ownership and pair him with a guy who wants his coach to use lessons from his days coaching his daughter's youth team.

If this episode proved anything else, it's that Ranadive isn't in this to just be owner and deposit checks. He wants to win and his desire to do so borders on impatience. Whoever the long-term solution is in Sacramento, be it Jackson, Karl or Mullin, better be on guard.

Ranadive is doing things his way based on his background in the business and technology world. It's his right. He may have some trouble getting coaches to trust him for now, but his honesty and approach is refreshing. Improvement is the only acceptable outcome.

Did he have a cherry-picker in software development?

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Local
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
Final
CHI 103
NYK 97
Final
HOU 90
NOP 99
Final
SAC 107
MIL 108
Final
GSW 114
OKC 109
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
CHA
 
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ORL
UTA
 
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CLE
BRK
 
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MIN
 
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TOR
 
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MEM
CHI
 
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SAN
POR
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
OKC
 
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
Final
CAN 60
USB 59
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
Final
SDKST 75
IDST 72
 
Final
RIDE 62
MRGST 48
 
Final
LATU 79
NICST 54
 
Final
CHAR 75
APP 65
Final
MISS 71
CCAR 68
 
Final
DUKE 66
UCONN 56
Final
BRAD 80
EUREK 38
 
Final
PEAY 76
OAKC 52
 
Final
JST 66
SMISS 46
 
Final
SD 55
MNTST 53
 
Final
UAB 70
LSU 79
Final
EVAN 81
OHIO 69
 
Final
CSFU 72
CSDH 50
 
Final
ORST 90
DEP 59
Final
PAC 69
NEV 65
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USF 77
PORST 40
 
Final
IDAHO 86
WALLA 39
 
Final
UTST 57
CALST 56
 
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RAD
SIENA
 
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HAW
 
Final
PIT 1
COL 0
Final
PHI 1
FLA 2
Final
CAR 4
TOR 1
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CLB 4
WAS 5
Final
MON 1
ANA 2
Final
SJS 4
EDM 3
Final
LOS 6
STL 4
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NJD
TAM
 
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OTT
ANA
 
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DET
NYI
 
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WIN
BOS
 
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DAL
 
Final
JAC 21
TEN 13