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Kings GM Candidate Profile: Monte McNair

Monte McNair of Houston is one of the possible GM candidates for Sacramento. Let's take a dive into his resume.

The Sacramento Kings have commenced their search for a new general manager by requesting interviews with potential candidates. Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic named six executives the Kings have interest in and one of them is Monte McNair, current assistant GM of the Houston Rockets.

Let's start by diving into McNair's personal background:

  • Native of Oak Park, California
  • Played football at Princeton University 
  • Majored in computer science 
  • Worked as a researcher at STATS LLC in 2006

Here's a recap of McNair's NBA experience:

  • Daryl Morey, current Houston GM, brought McNair to his staff in 2007 as a senior analyst. 
  • After almost six years, McNair was promoted to Director of Basketball Operations in 2013
  • Promoted to Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2015 
  • McNair was promoted to assistant GM, his current role, in 2018

“Monte has been absolutely critical to the success of the Rockets over his long tenure,”  Morey said in the press release of McNair's recent promotion. “His unique combination of analytical skills and ability to work with our coaching staff was a key driver in our record breaking season last year."

According to the press release, McNair is "involved with all avenues of player evaluation, including trade, free agency, and the draft. Over the past four seasons, McNair has worked closely with the coaching staff to provide on-court strategy and analysis along with opponent preparation." 

The key takeaway I get is collaboration. Though not a GM, McNair inserted himself into multiple departments in order to build a team that could compete as well as getting involved with the games itself. It's not surprising that Morey gave McNair significant praise about the team's success.

So if McNair had a say in these decisions, let's review the notable transactions Houston made from the time McNair became VP of Basketball Operations to now:

2015-16: 

  • Re-signed Patrick Beverley and Corey Brewer
  • Acquired Ty Lawson and a 2017 2nd round pick for Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson, Kostas Papanikolaou and a 2016 1st round pick. The four players Houston dealt weren’t crucial to their rotation.
  • Signed Marcus Thornton and Jason Terry
  • Signed Montrezl Harrell to a multi-year contract. Harrell played 39 games with Houston and spent time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as well
  • Exercised team option on Clint Capela to extend his contract
  • Acquired Josh Smith, draft rights to Sergei Lishouk and cash for the draft rights to Maarty Leunen
  • Marcus Thornton and Ty Lawson were placed on waivers and became free agents. 
  • Michael Beasley signed a multi-year contract
  • Drafted Chinanu Onuaku and Zhou Qi in the second round

2016:17: 

  • Renegotiated James Harden’s contract to extend him
  • Signed Eric Gordon, Nene and Ryan Anderson to multi-year deals
  • Traded Beasley and a TPE to Milwaukee for Tyler Ennis
  • Exercised team option on Clint Capela to extend his contract
  • Traded Tyler Ennis and the draft rights to Brad Newley to the Los Angeles Lakers for Marcelino Huertas and a TPE. Huertas was placed on waivers two days later.
  • Traded K.J. McDaniels to Brooklyn for cash and a TPE.
  • Traded Corey Brewer and a 2017 1st round pick to the Lakers for Lou Williams and a TPE.
  • Signed Troy Williams, who spent time with Rio Grande
  • Drafted Isaiah Hartenstein and Dillon Brooks in the second round
  • Acquired DeAndre Liggins, Ryan Kelly, Tim Quarterman, Darrun HillIard and Shawn Long from multiple teams for cash
  • Acquired Chris Paul from the L.A. Clippers for Beverley, Sam Dekker, Harrell, Hilliard, Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer, a 2018 1st round pick and cash
  • Acquired Jarrod Uthoff from Dallas for cash and a TPE. 

2017-18:

  • Re-signed Nene and Troy Williams and signed P.J. Tucker to a multi-year deal. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute also signed a new deal. 
  • Signed Danuel House but waived him shortly after
  • Signed Gerald Green to a contract in December
  • Signed Joe Johnson to a contract in February
  • Waived Troy Williams and shuffled through multiple two-way deals with other prospects
  • Drafted De’Anthony Melton in the second round
  • Acquired the draft rights to Vince Edwards from Utah for cash

2018-19: 

  • McNair is promoted to assistant GM
  • Signed Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis, Carmelo Anthony and Bruno Caboclo in free agency. They waived Caboclo shortly after
  • They re-signed Green, Capela (who was a RFA) and signed Paul to an extension as well
  • Traded Onuaku, cash and second round swaps to Dallas for the draft rights to Leunen, who they had earlier.
  • Traded Anderson and Melton to Phoenix for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss
  • Edwards and Gary Clark became two-way contracts
  • Signed Clark to a multi-year deal, allowing them to bring back House on a two-way contract
  • Waived Qi after multiple years spending time in the G-League
  • Signed Austin Rivers in December, Kenneth Faried in January
  • Acquired a 2020 second round pick (MEM owned) from Chicago for Carter-Williams and cash.
  • Traded Carmelo Anthony, draft rights to Jon Diebler and cash to Chicago for the draft rights to Tadija Dragicevic
  • Traded Ennis to Philadelphia for a swap of 2021 second round picks
  • In a three-team deal with Sacramento and Cleveland, Houston sent out a 2020 second to SAC and Knight, Chriss, a 2019 first round pick and a 2022 second round pick to Cleveland. Houston acquired Wade Baldwin IV, Nik Stauskas, Iman Shumpert and a 2021 second round pick (MIL owned)
  • Traded Baldwin IV, Stauskas, draft rights to Leunen and a 2021 second round pick (MIL owned) to Indiana for cash and multiple TPEs

2019-20: 

  • Acquired Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul, swaps of 2021 and 2025 first round picks, a 2024 1st round pick and a 2026 first round pick
  • Signed House, Rivers, Green to new deals
  • Tyson Chandler, Ben McLemore and Anthony Bennett were signed. Bennett would be waived soon after. 
  • Extended Gordon’s contract
  • Signed Thabo Sefolosha later on
  • Involved in a four-team trade that saw Houston send out Capela, Nene, Green and a 2020 1st. Houston acquired Robert Covington, Jordan Bell and Golden State’s 2024 second rounder.
  • Traded Bell to Memphis for Caboclo and swapped 2023 second rounders. 
  • Signed Jeff Green, DeMarre Carroll, David Nwaba and Mbah a Moute to contracts. Waived Hartenstein. 

I didn’t include every single move, but Houston was definitely busy throughout every season trying to build a roster around Harden. The extent of McNair’s involvement with all these moves are not known, but he played a significant part in assembling the unique small-ball roster in Houston. 

Houston has made it to the conference semifinals in each of the last four seasons and though they haven’t hurdled the final barrier to make it to the Finals yet, they’ve built a team that can compete. Before the Kings can even engage in playoff talk, a team that can compete for a spot is the first priority.

Questions to consider: 

  • Since McNair has been with the Rockets for almost 13 years, will he stay loyal to a team that has been loyal to him? Or will he chase this opportunity to be the lead decision maker?
  • Houston hasn’t drafted in the first round for a while. Can McNair make the right picks? 
  • Will McNair be allowed to expand his involvement into other roles like he did in Houston? 
  • How much was McNair involved with the moves listed above? 

Vivek Ranadive hasn’t lived up to the NBA 3.0 idea he brought up a while back, but the innovative mind of McNair could be something to seriously consider. With Trajan Langdon already withdrawing from the search, someone like McNair who hasn't held a GM role could be worth watching more closely. 

Extra links: 

https://www.thedreamshake.com/2017/3/6/14808806/rockets-vp-monte-mcnair-james-harden-daryl-morey 

https://www.thedreamshake.com/2016/3/13/11211858/2016-houston-rockets-mit-sloan-sports-analytics-conference-monte-mcnair

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Rob Hessing
18 days ago

On the plus side of the ledger, he has not turned down the job yet.

Last edited 18 days ago by RobHessing
Ican Hascheezburger
18 days ago
Reply to  SanjeshSingh

No one expects the yet!

Gary Hart
18 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

That may be all it takes.

Greg Lederman
18 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

This week is where all those names listed go to their bosses asking for a raise.

First Last
18 days ago
Reply to  Gregoryl

ding…ding…ding.

My Neighbor Turturro
18 days ago
Reply to  Gregoryl

We get fleeced almost every summer by free agents looking for bigger paydays, and who can forget that time SVG pulled some similar shit on us? But I can’t recall a GM ever using us as leverage. There’s a first time for everything!

Adam Dieter
18 days ago

Thanks for this breakdown! I’m hoping and looking forward for more of these on our possible GM candidates. These are like draft profiles! I can’t recall our online community ever having the opportunity to break down possible management staff, or even coaches. The later seem to be hired with little time to vet possible replacements.

He sounds like an interesting candidate, but like you said, he may not be willing to leave Houston. He sounds like an heir apparent to Morey, much like Simon in regards to Riley in Miami.

One thing that amazes me in reading about the candidates from other teams is how deep successful front offices are. There folks have held titles and positions on other teams that I’m not sure even exist for the Kings. When whoever comes in, I hope they get to pick a solid and deep staff that successful teams appear to have.

Adam Dieter
18 days ago
Reply to  SanjeshSingh

Wow, they have quite a few cooks in a michelin star kitchen in Houston. I guess I’ve just gotten used to some dude running the team along with his friend and a bit of crowd sourcing. It takes a village to raise a champion.

Jeromy Simonoff
17 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

Well stated

Jake Whitaker
18 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

It’s also possible that Tillman Fertita will want to move in a new direction. Morey and the front office were all inherited from the previous owner, and there have been rumblings of a dual firing of Morey and D’Antoni this offseason. So count me as doubtful that he would then decide to promote an in-house candidate after a “house cleaning” like that.

Adam Dieter
18 days ago
Reply to  jdwhit

Solid point. My only pause to Fertita firing everyone is he is apparently cash strapped. I don’t think he is going to want to pay double salaries.

Jeromy Simonoff
17 days ago
Reply to  jdwhit

So you’re saying Morey might be available…??

Jon Reeves
18 days ago
Reply to  Adamsite

Yeah, this was great stuff

18 days ago

I like Princeton General Managers.

Rob Hessing
18 days ago
Reply to  Steven_Durkee

You want culture? You need a Petrie dish!

18 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

True. Also, some cultures grow better in hot climates and others in cold, but not much grows when its just Lukewarm.

Kevin Lam
18 days ago
Reply to  RobHessing

“…………….”
comment image

David Echard
18 days ago

Looks like a decent option. I am praying Simon at least takes an interview. Vivek should just step aside and say do whatever the F you want to do. Pay him whatever he wants, and let him blow up restructure the whole Sac organization to his liking. Miami has a huge player development department. That will be priority one for Simon if he was to be even remotely interested in taking the position. Simon will want the Kings to have one of the best player development teams in the NBA. Even then, I don’t see Simon leaving Miami. Especially, If Riley has committed to giving Simon the Keys to the Kingdom in a few years. A lot depends on that, as well. If Riles plans to be running things for the next 5 years or he plans on stepping down soon.

Ican Hascheezburger
18 days ago

There’s a better clip of Woody Allen in Annie Hall repeating the Groucho Marx philosophy, but meh…..

This guy looks more like Monte McNair (if he were a ghost). The voice is probably different, though:

For Kings fans, the line could go:

“I refuse to get excited about any candidate that would be willing to join this franchise.”

Last edited 18 days ago by Kosta
Darren Van Blois
18 days ago

Nice resume. I like that he played football at Princeton (ie, he’s not simply a stat geek). I like the hands-on work also. Seems to have had success. Worth considering.

David Sheehy
18 days ago
Reply to  eddie41

And he’s a computer science guy so he has that in common with Vivek. Maybe that’s something they can bond over.

Rik Smits
18 days ago
Reply to  Hozr

Let’s not go overboard. If he can do the shaka sign and really does want to be in Sacramento, that’s enough.

Brian Mantz
18 days ago

Great read, really enjoyed the breakdown!

I do have some concerns after reading this though, besides the questions Sanjesh asked. There are a lot of trades to breakdown there, as well as multiple times of waiving and resigning people that would be concerning for the Kings if they might be as cash strapped as we fear they are. Plus, giving Paul that outlandish extension is a big red flag to me. In Houston he has a clear superstar to build around. If he interviews, I would hope he presents a plan of how he would proceed here when we don’t have a superstar like Harden.

He’s an upgrade to Vlade, but is it a good upgrade? He has the experience sure. I’m just not sold on him yet compared to the little I’ve read of the other names being floated. I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong in this case though.

Rory Cornell
18 days ago

I think it’s important to realize that it’s almost impossible to know each candidate’s influence on every individual decision made by the team they’ve worked for if they weren’t in charge. A good example of this is the Stauskas pick. We know, due to leaks, that SAR was not on board with that pick. But, what if that never leaked out? Would we judge him negatively because he was part of the front office that chose Stauskas?

I know that we have a limited amount of information at our disposal to form our opinions, but I still think its probably a good idea to look at the transaction history with a grain of salt for the folks that weren’t the ultimate decision makers when those decisions were made.

Also we probably shouldn’t consider quotes from press releases as reliable forms of information. They’re written by a team’s PR dept. I think it’s probably better to look at actual interviews with the various candidates to get a better understanding of each candidate’s overall philosophy.

Point being, I think we all fall into a trap of attributing too much blame/praise for transactions associated with each candidate’s tenure within an organization. I think it’s probably better to ask: does this candidate have the requisite level of experience? And, are they second in command to GM’s with a track record of success? Do they sound like the type of person with a philosophy that can lead to success in Sacramento?

Darren Van Blois
18 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

Vivek picked Stauskas. He published the video of the kings’ draft room. Vivek trying to trade up for Embiid, then Vivek debating between Elfrid Payton and Steak Sauce, then Vivek making the call.

Rory Cornell
17 days ago
Reply to  eddie41

This kind of a simplistic way of looking at it.

Shawn S
18 days ago

It’d be nice if he could push for an offense that runs.

Bryant Strause
17 days ago

I forgot about what Houston gave up for that Chris Paul trade. Two future 6th man of the year winners in Harrell and Williams, Beverley, and a first round pick. On paper it looks like Houston got ripped off but you can argue Houston was a Chris Paul hamstring injury away in 2016-17 from making it to the finals. And Chris Paul was used to get Westbrook now.

Morey and McNair have courage and are active in the trade market. Something that a small market team needs to get stars to come around. I just worry about the lack of draft experience.

Darren Van Blois
17 days ago
Reply to  Peja

Yup, Houston got ripped off there. In the past, Westbrook relied on his freak athleticism and explosiveness. Now he reminds me of an aging Josh Smith.

Darren Van Blois
17 days ago
Reply to  eddie41

I also think they resigned Chris Paul for too many years. He has 2 yrs 85 million remaining. I think next year he’s washed.

First Last
17 days ago

Sam Amick just said two things on Dave’s show.

Concern with working for Vivek is a real thing, and he’s heard the pay is also an issue.

Rory Cornell
17 days ago
Reply to  Marty

Imagine how much money they could raise if they did a Grantland style PPV documentary of the hiring process. I’d pay money to watch a scene with the camera zoomed in on Vivek’s face as he listens to the consultants tell him some potential candidates think he’s batshit crazy.

Ican Hascheezburger
17 days ago
Reply to  RORDOG

Vivek’s face as he listens to the consultants tell him some potential candidates think he’s batshit crazy.

comment image

Greg Lederman
17 days ago
Reply to  Marty

I’m sure Bobby Jackson will make a great GM…

Richie J
17 days ago
Reply to  Marty

Oof. Pay being an issue is concerning.

Last edited 17 days ago by richie88
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[…] on those challenges by repeating the exact same mistakes of their past. Men smart enough to work for Daryl Morey, to draft brilliantly, or to invent the ESPN Trade Machine aren’t going to overlook obvious, […]

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[…] Adam Simon) have withdrawn themselves from the Kings interview process. That leaves Sachin Gupta, Monte McNair, Wes Wilcox and Booth of this initial batch of potential […]

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[…] we previously profiled, McNair has served as Assistant GM for the Houston Rockets, under Daryl Morey. McNair has worked […]

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[…] studied pc science at Princeton and was a frontrunner within the Rockets’ analytics revolution. Morey employed him in 2007 as a senior analyst, and he labored his means as much as assistant […]

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[…] and Morey has given McNair a great deal of credit for that success. Based on comments from Morey, McNair assisted the Rockets with everything from free agency, the draft, trades and player evaluatio…. So it would seem he more than just a data guy.  It is good to hear he believes in having strong […]

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