Sources: Despite public denial from Kings, owner Vivek Ranadive interested in hiring new exec to run franchise

Owner Vivek Ranadive has been canvassing the NBA for possible candidates to run the Kings and has been intrigued with Sam Hinkie. (AP)
Owner Vivek Ranadive has been canvassing the NBA for possible candidates to run the Kings and has been intrigued with Sam Hinkie. (AP)

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has shown interest in finding a front-office executive to usurp Vlade Divac’s authority and turn the franchise’s general manager into a “figurehead,” league sources told The Vertical.

In a contradictory move on the day that league sources say Sacramento received formal permission to meet with former Philadelphia 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, the Kings quickly issued a public statement saying, “The Kings are not hiring Sam Hinkie and have no plans to bring anyone in over Vlade.”

Nevertheless, Ranadive has been canvassing the NBA for possible candidates and has been mostly intrigued with Hinkie, who is living in the Northern California area now. There has been discussion at the Kings’ ownership level about keeping Divac in a player-personnel role, but transferring the overall management of basketball operations to someone else, league sources said.

ESPN first reported that the Kings had received permission from the 76ers to speak to Hinkie.

The Kings hired respected league executive Ken Catanella as an assistant GM last year to help Divac, but it’s unclear how much, if at all, Divac has embraced Catanella’s counsel.

Ranadive has had conversations with Hinkie since his 76ers resignation in the spring and hoped to start down a path of hiring him to run the Kings, league sources said.

Hinkie had been cautious in his interest with Sacramento, league sources said, but GM jobs are rare in availability, and as dysfunctional as Ranadive’s tenure has been, there’s no guarantee that Hinkie will have the chance to take over another franchise.

In the aftermath of the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans in February, the Kings have changed course and moved toward a rebuild. There were significant questions inside and outside the organization about how Divac handled the Cousins trade, and whether he brought back the best possible trade package. That was one of several deals and draft selections by Divac that have been widely panned around the league.

Ranadive hired Divac in March 2015, usurping the power of former GM Pete D’Allesandro.

Another factor for the Kings is regarding coach Dave Joerger, who only 24 hours earlier against the Los Angeles Clippers engineered one of the franchise’s most impressive comeback victories.

Joerger is in the first year of a four-year contract, and the prospect of pairing him with a GM who didn’t hire him could return the Kings to the acrimony of the D’Alessandro and Michael Malone era, a relationship that suffered because of how Ranadive thrust them together.

Popular video from The Vertical: