The Donte DiVincenzo era in Sacramento was confusing, to say the least.
The Sacramento Kings first tried to acquire DDV as part of a sign and trade involving Bogdan Bogdanovic in November of 2019. The deal was done, but was agreed upon (and, more importantly, leaked to the public) too early, violating league rules. The deal was called off and the Milwaukee Bucks lost a second round pick for tampering.
So when the Kings finally acquired DiVincenzo as part of a trade deadline deal sending out Marvin Bagley III in February of 2022, it seemed like Monte McNair had landed a piece he intended to build around going forward. And yet less than six months later the Kings renounced Donte’s restricted free agent rights and pivoted instead to signing Malik Monk and trading for Kevin Huerter.
Now, after signing with the Golden State Warriors and on the cusp of the new season, Donte DiVincenzo opened up to The Athletic in a wide ranging interview discussing his career trajectory, including his Kings tenure.
Unlike some exit interviews we’ve seen with other former Kings, DDV seems to harbor no ill-will towards the Kings, and seems almost as confused by the whole sequence of events as we are. Donte began by dissuading any notions that his Kings tenure was a bad experience:
“That’s the thing. The Kings have this, I guess, reputation with the playoff drought, this and that. People say things aren’t how they’re supposed to be. I had a lot of great experiences there. There’s always so much turnover and transition, it’s hard — one for players, the other for coaches — it’s hard to build that trust and that framework when people are going out the door.
“But I’d thought I found my home. Domas (Sabonis) and I were always together, talking about what we are going to build in the future. It was super fun. The guys were extremely cool. But it goes back to how I play basketball and me viewing it in my head as ‘the right way.’ That’s playing with Giannis and Jrue and Khris. But it’s not like that every place. There’s only four or five places like that.”
“So I went to Sac and they just had a different way to play basketball I had to adjust. It wasn’t wrong, wasn’t right. I was just figuring out the way they play.”
I feel like this is a very fair assessment of the Kings by Donte. I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to say the Kings played a different style of basketball than DDV was accustomed to. Coming from a franchise that had won a championship and was still in contention for another, and transitioning to a team that had fired their head coach early in the year and were running out the clock with interim head coach Alvin Gentry – DDV is probably being kind in saying that what the Kings were running wasn’t bad, just different.
It’s also a little sad to hear how quickly Donte had bonded with Sabonis, only to have that cut short. Donte goes on to tell the Athletic that he understood that in free agency anything can happen, but Donte’s quotes read like a player who fully expected to return to Sacramento and had embraced the idea of that future, despite reports we hear suggesting he was unhappy with his role at the end of last season. When talking about the result of becoming an unrestricted free agent, Donte told the Athletic:
“Mixed emotions,” DiVincenzo said. “Now I’m unrestricted and I can pick where I want to go, but then you have the other side, like, ‘Damn, they didn’t want me? Do they still want me? Are they trying to do something with a cap hold or whatever?’ I didn’t understand all that stuff. But my mind was just open, spinning, hectic for a couple days.”
Ultimately Donte seems fine with how things worked out. And why wouldn’t he? No matter how optimistic he might have been about the Kings future and his partnership with Sabonis, DDV finds himself in an ideal situation. He may have preferred a longer, more lucrative contract than the 2-year, $9.2 million deal he signed with Golden State. But his second year is a player option, and DDV is once again on a championship contender with the opportunity to prove his value and his free agency again next summer.
Over the course of the playoff drought we’ve seen plenty of players come through the rotating doors of the Kings organization. We hope each player might be part of the solution, and we’ve heard plenty of players bash the organization when they couldn’t end the drought. I appreciate that Donte didn’t do that when everyone would have understood if he had. It seems that DiVincenzo is as confused as the rest of us as to why exactly the Kings pursued him in multiple trade packages and then quickly moved on to other players. We may never know the full story, unless Monte McNair pulls back the curtain someday.
Whatever the reasons, this is one of the nicer post-Kings interviews I’ve seen about the organization. I’ll be rooting for the Warriors to struggle in the sense that they’re a Pacific Division rival, but I’ll continue to wish for the best for Donte DiVincenzo.