Long-time vice president of basketball operations and general manager Vlade Divac has recently stepped down from his role. His former teammate, Peja Stojakovic, also followed suit and relinquished his position as assistant general manager.
Changes are brewing in Sacramento, and it won’t come as a surprise if we don’t see Walton on the Kings’ bench next season. Of course, The team’s failure to meet expectations and enter the playoffs this year is not entirely Walton’s fault. The injured Marvin Bagley III only appeared in 13 games, and his absence absolutely left a hole on the Kings’ frontcourt.
However, there is still a myriad of reasons why moving on from Walton makes sense for the Kings moving forward.
The Hield drama saga
Despite a rollercoaster ride of emotions for Buddy Hield, the Kings are still highly dependent on his scoring. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard is averaging 19.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists this season, a slight dip from his averages last year. This isn’t something to be happy about, especially since many people expected him to break out of his shell after eclipsing the 20-point scoring average last season.
On top of that, Walton demoted him to a sixth man role midway through the season, a role that Hield was never happy about. Yet, Hield isn’t exactly the efficient scorer that the Kings need him to be. Despite shooting an excellent 39% clip from the three-point line, Hield is just at a lowly 42% from the field. The Kings have to find a coach who can employ a system where Hield gets more scoring opportunities in his hot zones, something that Walton has found it hard to do.
The Kings absolutely need a fresh start
There is no denying that the franchise has gone through a series of mind-boggling decisions that drew harsh criticisms. First, they opted to select Bagley in the 2018 NBA Draft, instead of going for Luka Doncic. Doncic is now an All-Star and is averaging a ridiculous all-around stat line. We can’t say that Bagley is already a bust, but suffering multiple major injuries in the first two years of his career will definitely set him back in terms of progress.
But the decision that really marred the Kings’ surprisingly good run last year was the firing of Dave Joerger. It does not take an expert to see that the Kings’ talented young guns loved playing for Joerger, but it turned out that the 46-year old tactician didn’t see eye to eye with the team’s management.
The Kings are still on the lookout for the right people to replace Divac and Stojakovic, so it remains to be seen if Walton’s job is secured. But with Hield, Bagley, and De’Aaron Fox all primed and ready to take the next step in their individual development, the Kings have to make sure that they have an experienced and proven leader who can take them to greater heights.