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Monte McNair breaks down his approach to Kings short and long-term success

The Sacramento Kings front office wants to maintain long-term flexibility while improving the core of the team.
By | 27 Comments | Feb 10, 2024

Photo courtesy of Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings General Manager Monte McNair spoke to media Friday following the NBA trade deadline. The Kings were pretty quiet on the move front, acquiring Robin Lopez and then waiving him, and signing Keon Ellis to a three-year contract.  McNair took to the podium to explain his approach to building the Kings for short-term performance while maintaining long-term flexibility.

McNair revealed a few insights worth noting.

Long-Term View With Trades: McNair is reviewing trades from the point of view of weighing trade potential based on the immediate impact v. what that would cost the franchise long-term, especially under the new CBA. He’s aiming for long-term growth over quick fixes and reactionary moves.

“We’re always trying to put ourselves in a spot where we’re never pressed into something and we get to do it on our own terms,” McNair said. “I do think the new rules are going to make it so that if you put yourself in a tough spot and you don’t reach where you want to get to, it’s going to be hard to take that next step. And if you do reach it, it may be hard to maintain it. So, we’re always these days trying to figure out that balance.”

Offensive Challenges v. Defense Improvement: The Kings are 18th in defensive rating, up from 24th last season. They are 14th in offensive rating, down from 1st last season. McNair repeatedly brought up how the team needs to maintain defensive improvement while getting back to the level of offense reached last season.

“We have not maintained our offense and that’s an issue. We’ve got to get better on that end because if we had maintained our offense and seen the defensive improvement, we’d be in a much different position,” McNair said. “I think we all know we’ve got to be better on both ends because we’re not where we need to be. But I think yeah, the defense was the easiest thing for us to improve. As we mentioned, we wanted to maintain our offense to get there and right now our offense has slipped as our defense has improved and we’re in a similar spot; I think maybe the same record to this point as last year. But yeah, I think the biggest thing for us is that at the end of the night we’ve got to have more points than the other team and especially in the playoffs, you’re going to have to go and stop some really tough players. I mean, just look up and down the west. It doesn’t matter who you play, you’re going to have multi-time All Stars, All NBA guys, future Hall of Famers that you’re going to have to stop. So yeah, we’ve got to learn to do that because when April and May come, we’ve got to do that. At the same time. We’ve got to figure out a way to score because in this league it’s taking 110, 120, 130 to win.”

Using Future Draft Picks: The Kings are looking to use their future first-round picks to either boost the core of the team or in trades, which ties back in McNair’s view on flexibility.

“We’ll have a little bit more flexibility with those first round picks hopefully this summer. That’s something we’ll continue to pursue, but I think those picks, whether they can be in trade, but they can also be to continue to supplement what we hope is a team that the core is here to go into the second round and further, and then those picks can be used to continue to keep the train rolling because we know with some of the changes in the CBA and things like that you’ve got to maintain your flexibility,” McNair said.

Not Adding Size And Length At The Expense Of Getting Worse In Other Areas: While the Kings like the idea of adding size and length to the roster, McNair doesn’t want to do that while taking away things that made his team good, such as spacing and shooting.

“If we can add size and length, that can make sense for our team. At the same time, we have to balance that with what we know has worked for us offensively. And we know you need shooting and spacing in this league and so we can’t sacrifice too much of something like that,” he said. “It’s trying to really find two-way guys, guys who can play on offense, guys who can play on defense. And I think Mike’s done a great job getting the most out of guys on both ends and getting guys there, but we just don’t want to solve one problem by kind of pulling our finger out of another problem.”

So, it appears McNair is prioritizing asset flexibility, balanced on-court performance and long-term growth. He wants to maintain a competitive core while exploring opportunities to make the team better with draft picks and trades down the road, and not making hasty moves in the meantime.

The holes in the roster are pretty evident to everyone now, and while the clock isn’t ticking too loudly yet in terms of the timeline for the core of this team, that will probably begin over the next two seasons. That being said, the front office clearly did not see a deal in free agency that would fit into their criteria outlined above. In the meantime, this season’s success now is on the shoulders of Mike Brown and the current roster as we march toward the battle for one of those coveted top 6 playoff spots.

Watch the full press conference below.

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TheGrantNapear
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February 10, 2024 10:24 am

So, it appears McNair is prioritizing asset flexibility, balanced on-court performance and long-term growth. He wants to maintain a competitive core while exploring opportunities to make the team better with draft picks and trades down the road, and not making hasty moves in the meantime.

This is it in a nutshell and why I was hoping we wouldn’t do anything rash leading up to the deadline and really not doing anything at all that would jeapordize flexibility this summer.
I’d like to see how this team plays in the playoffs this year (yes we’re making the playoffs, don’t listen to the pessimists) and make moves this summer once we have two years of data and performance to go off of. Sounds like a prudent path to take and that’s what MM is doing.
We just put up 135 on the best team in the league. Stop sleeping on the potential of what the current squad can achieve come April. We have a good chance to win our first playoff series in two decades, I’ll take it.

Last edited 5 months ago by TheGrantNapear
SelecaoKOJ
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February 11, 2024 2:50 pm
Reply to  TheGrantNapear

Put up 135 on a team missing 2 important starters. In the Number 1 starting lineup in the league. They lost to an OKC team that has a much higher ceiling than the Kings. Assets, 5 years younger in the starting lineup and already better than the Kings.

Vlawde
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February 10, 2024 10:32 am

Better to not make any major moves that’ll haunt you for seasons to come and limit your ability to do much of anything. We’ve seen that here before. If no meaningful moves were available or feasible, happy a panic move wasn’t made

discocricket
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February 10, 2024 12:05 pm

Tremendous win last night vs the champs. That said, who is confident we won’t lay an egg on Sunday? No one should be.

Monte really didn’t say a lot here. “We’d like to be good and maintain flexibility. We’d like to use our picks in a trade, or for adding through the draft.” What GM wouldn’t say those things. No GM says “we’d like to make hasty high risk moves that have a chance to blow up in our faces.”

I think we can see that the team does not in fact prioritize length and two way players, given todays roster. I’d also say we seem to have a bias against action at the level of rotation players, relative to other teams. Additionally, I’d say we haven’t seen a desire to be in the top half of teams in payroll. We will see if that combination works out, but that’s what’s in evidence to date.

RikSmits
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February 10, 2024 12:31 pm
Reply to  discocricket

Monte really didn’t say a lot here. 

Exactly. and nor should we want or expect him to.

I never understood the fascination with coach’s and GM’s talk. It rarely has much significance. But I guess it’s a talking point.

Hobby916
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February 10, 2024 4:32 pm
Reply to  RikSmits

Did he have a better deal two days ago? We will never know.

NorCalKingsFan
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February 10, 2024 1:42 pm
Reply to  discocricket

I am not trying to speak for you, but it seems you believe the Kings rebuild (towards contention for a title) is further along that MM believes it is.

I tend to agree with MM on this one as I was more concerned that we’d pull an ATL and make an “all-in” move before the rest of the roster is ready for it.

billoddity
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February 10, 2024 12:26 pm

The Kings will matchup better with great teams that are slow and methodical verses athletic physical teams like New Orleans and Houston. Defensive teams with shooting athletes like Boston are brutal. An all-world power forward could change our trajectory to title contender. Currently it’s still a one-and-done team.

Mike120
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February 10, 2024 12:56 pm
Reply to  billoddity

You mean like Jaren Jackson Jr.? Oh yeah, Vlade passed on him, too.

Mike120
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February 10, 2024 12:53 pm

Watching the Mavs crushing OKC by 20 in the first quarter. They added Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington. What did that cost? Gafford would’ve been a great addition to the Kings

Jman1949
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February 10, 2024 1:25 pm
Reply to  Mike120

Down to a 9 pt deficit at the half. Hope the game stays close (or even goes to OT) so the Thunder expends a lot of energy before we face them tomorrow.

Jman1949
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February 10, 2024 2:12 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

Mavs now up by 30 with about 8 minutes left in the 4th qrtr. It’s not likely that any of the Thunder’s front line players will play significant minutes today.

NorCalKingsFan
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February 10, 2024 1:59 pm
Reply to  Mike120

It cost them the a 2024 FRP (from OKC) and Richaun Holmes to get Gafford and it cost them Grant Williams and their own 2027 FRP to get Washington.

DAL is locked into that roster for the foreseeable future (they still have two other FRPs, 2026 & 2028 – but they can’t be traded since DAL traded their 2025, 2027, & 2029 FRPs), I am very glad we didn’t make any similar moves. They traded not just 2 FRPs yesterday, but their ability to make changes down the line.

Mike120
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February 10, 2024 8:20 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

Thanks for the trade info. I think they are good trades for Dal. Holmes is third string at this point and OKC’s pick could be mid to high 20s.

NorCalKingsFan
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February 10, 2024 2:07 pm

Look like Spencer Dinwiddie has chosen to sign with LAL over DAL.

RPO
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RPO
February 10, 2024 2:30 pm
Reply to  NorCalKingsFan

Dim-witty

NorCalKingsFan
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February 10, 2024 3:00 pm

Western Conference Playoff Teams Playing Tonight

  • OKC (2nd) vs DAL (8th) : 111 – 146 DAL Win (1.5gms behind Kings)
  • DET vs LAC (3rd) : 106 – 112 LAC Win (4.5gms ahead of Kings)
  • PHX (5th) vs GSW (11th)
  • NOP (7th) vs POR (14th)
jwalker1395
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February 10, 2024 4:07 pm

He’s smart and he’s got the right idea of how to improve a small market team and he says all the right things. I like the players that he targets, and I like that he knows when to say no. He mentioned the first rounders getting freed up after this year’s draft, so maybe he’s got something in the works for this offseason. It’s only been one season since the Beam Team filled us all with hope for the first time in 16 years, and growth isn’t linear, so he’s earned himself the time to operate.

But with all that said, this team is still nowhere near contention. And with Domas and Fox entering their late-20s, Monte needs a plan to get this team to whiff the WCF by the end of next season. Otherwise, it seems the Fox&Ox era may tap out as a ‘happy to be here’ playoff team and perennial first round exit.

Jack
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February 10, 2024 4:19 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

Patience is a virtue.

jwalker1395
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February 10, 2024 4:35 pm
Reply to  Jack

And Monte fortunately has more of it than us fans!

RikSmits
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February 11, 2024 4:49 am
Reply to  jwalker1395

Monte didn’t have to sit through the better part of a 16 year shit show…

SelecaoKOJ
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February 11, 2024 2:52 pm
Reply to  Jack

Tell that to the Thunder. Everyone in their starting lineup is under 25. Their ceiling is outrageous. Picks galore, assets. OKC will get to a WCF before the Kings

oshima9
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February 11, 2024 12:58 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

Sacramento is a small market team because the owners have described it as one as act as if it is one. Back in the day the Warriors were a small market team under previous ownership, and the Bucks, Pacers, Hawks, Suns, Pelicans, Wizards, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, Blazers spend more than the Kings.

Last edited 5 months ago by oshima9
Ifeanyi
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February 12, 2024 2:13 pm
Reply to  oshima9

I thought large/mid/small market designations had more to do with the ratio between tv viewership and population density in said area? Moreso than spending ability (which I think is dictated, outside of ownership, by the aforementioned)

RattleSeattle96
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February 10, 2024 8:31 pm

Fox should have gotten on the phone immediately to try and convince Dimwiddie to come.

Last edited 5 months ago by RattleSeattle96
RPO
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RPO
February 11, 2024 12:38 am

Interesting that the Western Conference standings have become somewhat stratified. One total game separates teams 1-4 in the standings. One total game separates teams 5-8. However, four total games separates teams 4 and 5. We’re currently team 5 but obviously given how tight the standings are we could end up anywhere, even out of the top 8. It’s conceivable I guess (hope) that we could even end up in the top 4. Each game’s importance is magnified going forward.

Coincidentally, team 4 plays team 5 on Sunday – that would be OKC vs us.

Last edited 5 months ago by RPO
Sacto_J
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February 11, 2024 10:32 am

McNair has stated from day one that asset flexibility has been a priority, so its nice to hear that he’s consistent. This is one of the main reasons I’ve not been too concerned with his roster moves to this point. He’s created a playoff team out of what was left of the Vlade era and managed to do so while maintaining some maneuverability without mortgaging the future. Pretty tough balancing act in this era of the NBA.

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