Kings interview Shaedon Sharpe at NBA Draft Combine

The latest on Kings' draft, coaching and front office news

James Ham
May 20, 2022

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The NBA offseason really isn’t much of an offseason. 

News continues to trickle out at a steady stream in Sacramento. With the draft just over a month away, the Kings are busy on multiple fronts, including building out the coaching staff and interviewing prospects at the NBA Draft Combine. 

This is a busy time for the league and it’s only going to get more interesting as we approach the June 23 draft, followed by the start of free agency beginning on June 30. 

Here is the latest on the Kings.

An early favorite?

The Kings have spent the week at the NBA Combine in Chicago, getting a firsthand look at some of the prospects hoping to hear their name called during the 2022 NBA Draft.

According to league sources, the Kings held interviews with 26 prospects heading into the final day, including with Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe. Sacramento’s brass also attended Sharpe’s 1-on-none pro-day workout earlier in the week.

Have the Kings fallen in love with the 18-year-old shooting guard? Is this all a bit of a smoke screen? 

Only time will tell. If the draft goes in the early projected order, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr. and Paolo Banchero could all be off the board when the Kings select at No. 4. While the three young big men would look great next to Domantas Sabonis on the front line, the fourth pick might be one of the most valuable in the draft, especially when you consider who is drafting ahead and behind the Kings.

The Magic, Thunder and Rockets are all teams in rebuild mode. It’s unlikely that any of the three consider moving down or out of the draft. If this is the case, the Kings hold the keys to the first available top selection. 

Sharpe is an intriguing prospect, but there are so many unknowns. He sat out his freshman year at Kentucky and all we have to work off of is highschool footage. At one point, Sharpe was the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 draft, but he reclassified and moved up his timeline to this summer.

While Sharpe interviewed with the Kings, as well as other teams, he didn’t take part in most of the combine festivities. He measured in at 6-foot-4.25 without shoes and 6-foot-5.25 with shoes. He also posted a stunning 6-foot-11.5 wingspan and weighed in at 198 pounds.

There is a video out of Sharpe posting a 49-inch vertical leap, although it can’t be verified. What we know is that he projects as a two-way prospect with incredible length and athleticism. He’s shown the ability to score at all three levels, but patience is needed, as well as a strong development strategy. 

Sharpe is considered a top 5 prospect in this year’s draft. He could even upset the balance at the top and push one of the bigs down to Sacramento. Either way, this is the first real draft intrigue that we have regarding the Kings. 

The front office is doing their due diligence, which is exactly what they should be doing with so much riding on this offseason. 

Mike Brown builds his staff

The franchise broke their own news earlier this week, announcing that Jordi Fernandez has been added to new head coach Mike Brown’s staff as an associate head coach.

Fernandez’s story is unique and requires a deep dive. He was once Brown’s personal assistant and his son’s basketball trainer before joining the Cavs staff. He worked in player development for seven years in Cleveland, outlasting Brown’s tenure by a few seasons, and he has spent the last six seasons as an assistant under Michael Malone in Denver.

At 39 years old, Fernandez is an up-and-coming coach with a focus on both defense and player development. In addition to their time in Cleveland, Fernandez worked on Brown’s Nigerian National Team staff during the 2020 Olympics. His ties with Brown run deep and there is a tremendous amount of trust between the two. 

It appears that Brown will not wait until the end of the Warriors season to fully build out his staff. According to Marc Stein, former Raptors and Suns head coach Jay Triano has agreed to join the staff as well. 

Triano has spent the last 20 years as an NBA coach in one role or another. He spent the last four seasons on James Borrego’s staff in Charlotte and he brings experience as both a head coach and a lead assistant.

In addition to Triano, Stein reports that Doug Christie, a holdover from Luke Walton’s staff, will return for a second season on the bench. Christie is a fan favorite in Sacramento after playing for the team in the 2000s and then returning to the franchise as an analyst on the television broadcast.

Christie filled in for Alvin Gentry during the 2021-22 season when the veteran coach missed five games due to covid-19. He brings a wealth of knowledge from his 14 seasons as a player in the league and he has strong relationships with many of the current players. 

Outside of Christie, there is no word on any of the other current Kings assistant coaches, many of which are under contract for next season.  

Title bump

Lost in the excitement of Tuesday’s Draft Lottery was the news that Anjali Ranadivé, owner Vivek Ranadivé’s daughter, has been added to the Stockton Kings’ front office as an assistant general manager. 

Ranadivé joined the Kings last season working in the social responsibility department. Her experience or knowledge of the game is unknown at this time and her promotion has been met with plenty of consternation both around the league and within the Kings’ fanbase.

There are plenty of examples of the children of NBA owners working for teams around the league, including in Golden State, Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Houston. But an assistant general manager position, even at the G League level, isn’t where someone with zero experience typically begins their career in an organization.

Building a G League roster is a complicated exercise, especially in the age of covid. The rosters are small and with NBA call-ups, they can fluctuate wildly from one day to the next and require an incredible depth of knowledge of an ever-changing talent pool. 

Ranadivé will answer to Stockton Kings general manager Paul Johnson and she’ll also have a seat at the table as the Sacramento Kings trudge through the draft evaluation process and into free agency.    

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