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Report: Vlade Divac and Luke Walton €œappear very likely to remain€ with the Sacramento Kings

Sam Amick dropped a podcast interview with Luke Walton and an accompanying article about Walton, Vlade Divac, and Buddy Hield.

 

Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton joined Sam Amick and Joe Vardon on The Athletic's Tampering NBA podcast this week. Walton detailed what he's been up to during the NBA hiatus, and had some interesting things to say about his relationship with Buddy Hield. 

Amick also dropped a companion piece to the podcast Tuesday morning where he reported that both Luke Walton and Vlade Divac have significantly more job security now than they did after the brutal start to the 2019-20 NBA season.  

Amick:

€œAs we reported on Feb. 12, owner Vivek Ranadive had made his frustrations known with both the front office and coaching staff during the Kings' 15-29 start. Questions arose about whether he might be compelled to make changes in the offseason, but sources say Divac and Walton appear very likely to remain (their contracts run through the 2022-23 season)."

This isn't terribly surprising news. As Amick notes, the Kings played well enough during the 2nd half of the season to put themselves in the playoff conversation. Considering Walton and Divac signed new contracts last summer, the financial ramifications of firing them both at the end of the season would have been significant. Add in the loss of overall income due to the COVID-19 crisis, and this turns into a pretty easy decision for Vivek Ranadive.

We can debate whether or not Walton and Divac, in particular, deserve that job security, but it's easy to understand why they now have it.

On the podcast with Amick and Vardon, Walton downplayed any significant rift between the organization and Buddy Hield.

€œBuddy and I have a very good relationship, and I've always been honest with Buddy and he's always been honest with me in the way that we communicate with each other."

Walton did confirm that Hield wasn't happy about being moved to the bench.

€œBuddy was not happy about not starting, but he didn't bitch. He said, €˜You're the coach. I'm going to do what I need to do.'€ 

It appears that Walton's strategy to try and get Hield to buy into a long-term bench role is to use former high-profile sixth men as an example of what Buddy can be for this organization.

€œI mean, you look at Ginobili with the Spurs, you look at Lamar with our Lakers teams, Steve did it with Andre up in Golden State. So you need starter caliber players kind of playing with that second group a lot of times. And I thought Buddy had really, really done a nice job of embracing that and making our team better.€

The big difference in Sacramento is that Ginobili, Odom, and Iguodala sacrificed their starter status for championship teams, and Hield is being asked to do the same for a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in 13 (going on 14) years.

I'm not sold on Buddy Hield's long-term future in Sacramento as a bench player, but with Walton and Divac's newfound job security, we now know they will be the ones that have to deal with it this summer. 

 

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Kosta
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April 28, 2020 11:05 am

Report: Sacramento Kings €œappear very likely to remain out of the playoffs€ with Vlade Divac and Luke Walton.

RobHessing
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April 28, 2020 11:20 am
Reply to  Kosta

comment imagev

King4life
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April 28, 2020 11:27 am

This is fantastic to hear! I’m looking forward to Vlade drafting the wrong player in the draft again (most likely a big man), signing the wrong free agents, once again missing the playoffs.

G-naps
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April 28, 2020 11:33 am
Reply to  King4life

You forgot to add one more part.

But Vlade turned his horrible 2020 FA overpays/signings into contracts that are easily moveable.

SPTSJUNKIE
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April 28, 2020 6:59 pm
Reply to  King4life

I’m also excited for Vlade moving his big FA signing for expiring contracts and potentially a 2nd round pick 3-4 months into the season.

Greg
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April 28, 2020 11:29 am

Fast forward to next offseason: “With the delayed start of the season, no training camp, and no fans in attendance, Vivek seems poised to give Vlade and Walton another year under more normal conditions to try to succeed”

Greg
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April 28, 2020 11:30 am
Reply to  Greg

I should note that I’m not at all surprised they’ll get another year. Not even terribly angry about it under current circumstances. Just funny that there’s always an excuse.

G-naps
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April 28, 2020 11:34 am
Reply to  Greg

Agreed given the circumstances. There was no reason for Vivek to get rid of either or both with the season abruptly ended.

There will be some other excuse next year as well.

Kosta
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April 28, 2020 11:44 am
Reply to  Greg

Agreed, Greg. I’m not angry about it. It’s more about amusement at this point in time. There are so many more important things to think about. (Heck, maybe even UFO’s!)

Dirkula
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April 28, 2020 12:58 pm
Reply to  Greg

This it’s fine given the Covid circumstances this year, but if it’s another year of no playoffs in 2021 then FTS!

comment image?itemid=13276735

ArsLegendi
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April 28, 2020 11:45 am

sigh.

Timmy_13
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April 28, 2020 11:47 am

In other news, Kings ownership still lack brain cells to properly compete with the best of the league.

Klam
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Nostradumbass 18
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April 28, 2020 11:49 am

comment image?itemid=5386093

Greg
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April 28, 2020 12:08 pm
Reply to  Klam

If we could track what movies are most referenced in gif comments, even going back to the old site, I feel confident Young Frankenstein would rank high on that list. This is not a complaint.

Klam
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April 28, 2020 12:14 pm
Reply to  Greg

I can’t tell you the number of times Rob would post a Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles GIF in the comments and it lead to a chain reaction of replies with more Young Frankenstein/Blazing Saddles GIFs.

Kosta
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April 28, 2020 12:38 pm
Reply to  Greg

Mel Brooks is raking in the royalties (not sactown royalties, mind you).
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BestHyperboleEver
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April 28, 2020 12:43 pm
Reply to  Greg

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RobHessing
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April 29, 2020 9:07 am

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Dupue
April 28, 2020 12:22 pm

via GIPHY

dangit, how do i embed gifs

Kosta
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April 28, 2020 12:36 pm
Reply to  Dupue

Is this your GIF?
comment image

I clicked on your “via GIPHY” link.
From there, I pressed the “copy link” button.
I then selected and copied the “GIF link” and pasted it into a new browser tab just to check if it looked correct (you probably don’t need to do this).
Then I pasted the copied “GIF link” directly into this comment here.

Dupue
April 28, 2020 1:21 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Ya that was it, I was trying to use the embed link instead of the GIF link

BeTheBall
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April 28, 2020 12:35 pm

Based on the timeline, it’s quite possible that COVID-19 was created by Divac and Walton with the intent of saving their jobs.

TheFifthMookie
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April 28, 2020 12:39 pm

Completely unsurprising, and although I don’t expect any improvement in next year’s team performance with this FO/Coach, it’s completely understandable also from an operations perspective, and for once, I’m not critical of this choice.

dhackett
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April 28, 2020 1:21 pm

And the train of incompetence rolls on… choo choo

ForKingsandCountry
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April 29, 2020 9:38 am
Reply to  Dave Hackett

I think you meant, pooo pooo!

KevinSalvadori
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April 28, 2020 1:37 pm

Ugh. Neither deserved any further time in their roles, and whenever finances dictate the caliber of leadership and talent you invest in, or your willingness to upgrade from the sunken cost of the wrong fit in terms of personnel, you’re in pretty big trouble.

As to Buddy, this was IMO his weakest year as a King. I believe he can rebound from that but there is zero chance he lives up to that contract, which looks even more absurd for a high usage bench player on a middling team (which gets back to point 1).

1951
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April 28, 2020 2:14 pm
Reply to  KevinSalvadori

Yes. It’s very strange that people convince themselves that there exists a wrong time to get better.

1951
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April 28, 2020 2:12 pm

comment image

Marty
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April 28, 2020 2:28 pm

When has anyone ever said to you, “I’m going to do what I need to do”, and everything was fine?

1951
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April 28, 2020 2:34 pm
Reply to  Marty

Dr. Strange.

Otis
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April 28, 2020 2:41 pm

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jlandweh
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April 28, 2020 3:10 pm

I may be in the minority…but I don’t mind Luke being back. The ball moved on offense and the Kings did play an exciting brand of basketball once De’Aaron came back. I can’t defend the poor rotations to start the year or poor inbounds play calling. However; when the ball moved and the defense intensity was there-it was beautiful. I think Luke could be a playoff caliber head coach with the right roster and good assistants.

On the other hand, Vlade’s track record has been absolutely awful and I do not trust him with a high value pick, roster fits, or cap space.

My perfect world – Vivek steps aside to allow someone else to run day-to-day operations and Vlade gets fired. Vlade was 1 of my favorite Kings, but as a GM, he’s been terrible.

BestHyperboleEver
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April 28, 2020 3:47 pm
Reply to  jlandweh

You could be a playoff caliber coach with the right roster and good assistants. Like, say, the 2015-16 Warriors.

Walton isn’t really the issue, but I don’t think he’s a good coach. I don’t think he’s an abjectly terrible coach. But he doesn’t have much of a system to speak of, he intentionally had them play against their strengths, and he trotted out some truly head scratching rotations.

That said, he clearly needs to go because they need to replace the GM, and that new GM should bring in his/her own coach.

ForKingsandCountry
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April 29, 2020 9:41 am

Yeah Walton is just a symptom of the larger organizational dysfunction. He’s not a particularly effective coach but at this point my issue is with the people who hired him. The results have been fairly predictable.

Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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April 28, 2020 3:12 pm

I don’t agree with letting Walton go right now. As much as I think he’s a downgrade from Dave we can’t be firing coaches every season and expect good ones to want to come here. Vlade on the other hand has made some good trades, Bogi, Fox/Hield, Bazemore etc. but his draft picks are horrible and his desire for yes-men in the Coaching staff is all wrong.

Otis
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April 28, 2020 3:21 pm

The solution to not firing coaches every season is to keep the good ones you do hire. They screwed that up, now they need to find another one.

Keeping a bad coach just to avoid looking like a revolving door isn’t going to help your team longterm either.

1951
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April 28, 2020 4:53 pm
Reply to  Otis

A bad franchise passing up an opportunity to improve for continuity’s sake is .. um …
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Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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April 28, 2020 8:24 pm
Reply to  Otis

I agree but losing a lot of money isn’t helping a small market team either. Better to give him another year and then fish or cut bait.

1951
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April 29, 2020 9:54 am

Kings fans know all too well how much damage can be done by poor decision making during a short span of time.

Hippity_Hop_Barbershop
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April 29, 2020 9:57 am
Reply to  1951

Truth

Otis
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April 29, 2020 10:47 am

They should hire qualified people and attempt to make the playoffs. I’ve heard that’s a nice little revenue bump. :silly:

Kingsguru21
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April 29, 2020 11:29 am
Reply to  Otis

There you go being cynical again, Perry.

MyHumbleOpinion
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April 28, 2020 5:08 pm

I ‘m not sure if Walton is going to work out here or not, but I don’t like the idea of letting him go after 64 games either. It’s unreasonable to expect a coach to come in and get a roster of this talent level playing decent basketball right away. It took about half the season, and then you could see things change. They finished the year 13-7. That’s not bad at all. The games started to have a good flow to them. The players were figuring out their roles and becoming comfortable. I realize they’ve got a long way to go, but it seems to me they at least have it going in the right direction.

Otis
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April 28, 2020 5:17 pm

I’m agree with BHE’s comment below – they really should move Vlade out first, and let the new GM pick a head coach.

As to the 13-7, most teams have a decent stretch of basketball every season. The early part of that sample included some bad teams, and some beat up teams. Even with that nice run, he still had this team 4 games behind Joerger’s record the prior season.

But my dislike of Walton (outside that pesky sexual assault he paid his way out of) mostly lies in his post-game pressers. “I have to check the tape” is a meme now, but rarely did I feel he could articulate what had just happened on the basketball court, win or lose. Joerger was an ass to the media, but he would give specifics each night about what went right/what went wrong.

MyHumbleOpinion
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April 28, 2020 5:25 pm
Reply to  Otis

Otis, I agree with most of what you said. I guess I don’t really have a dislike of Walton, or a like for that matter. I’m more interested in seeing if this guy can get this team to play good basketball for extended periods of time. I feel like 64 games isn’t enough time to make that determination.

1951
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April 28, 2020 5:29 pm

We have more that 64 games to evaluate Walton’s coaching. I’ll summarize – he ain’t special, that’s for sure!

BestHyperboleEver
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April 28, 2020 10:40 pm

Two things:

1. Walton has been an NBA head coach for more than 3 full NBA seasons. People, and this goes for guys like Bazemore and Len and Parker and etc. as well, don’t suddenly begin to exist when they join the Kings. We have their entire pre-Kings body of work to judge them as well.

2. Why do we, as Kings fans, somehow think it takes half a season, or a full season, or more for a coach to install their system and start expecting decent play? As I’ve said before, if it takes that long you either have the wrong players, the wrong coach, or both.

1951
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April 28, 2020 5:26 pm
Reply to  Otis

Vlade isn’t good at his job.

Walton is just a guy. Probably not the worst coach in the league but also not a guy who is going to coach a team into being better than it is.

Continuity of a perfectly unremarkable coach is not a good reason pass up an opportunity to upgrade the FO ASAP. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of missed opportunity that a poorly run franchise would willingly choose, hence the Sacramento Kings.

Carl
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April 29, 2020 6:38 pm
Reply to  1951

Probably not the worst coach in the league but also not a guy who is going to coach a team into being better than it is.


I’m less sure of this than you are.

cbrody
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April 28, 2020 10:42 pm

As president and CEO of the Walton hater club I have to disagree. At best we become a middling team with Walton and Divac. I’d be more upset but I have no faith that Vivek would put the right people in place even if he fires the moron brothers. I look forward to the next rebuild in two years. This time I’m sure they’ll get it right.

JoeEnzyme
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April 28, 2020 5:09 pm

Looked at STR briefly before checking in here. The comment activity here is about 10X there. Didn’t recognize anyone’s sig in the fanposts there. Hmmm. BTW stay well and safe.

Chent
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April 28, 2020 8:12 pm

Vlade has failed at building out a roster, there is no way he shouldn’t be on the hot seat. This team’s roster needs an overhaul. I would look to keep Fox/ Bogi/ Bazemore/ Holmes/ Len, assuming Baze(7>)/ Bogi(14>)/ Len(5>) are good value in FA. Everybody else should be on the market to completely build around Fox.

RoyaleWithCheese
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April 29, 2020 12:04 am

GAWDDAMNIT!!

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ForKingsandCountry
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April 29, 2020 9:44 am

Well, it’s good to know that even during a global pandemic, the organization is still grading on the KANGZZZZ Scale. €œHey you went 13-7 for a 20 game stretch of the season AND you’re only 4 games out of a playoff spot??? Of course you can stick around!!!€

RobHessing
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April 29, 2020 9:47 am

I am only surprised that they did not give both of them four year extensions.

ForKingsandCountry
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April 29, 2020 10:38 am
Reply to  RobHessing

At this point all you can really do is laugh at the stupidity. On a serious note, I can at least understand Walton sticking around for another year but the idea that Vlade will be back offends my sensibilities.

BestHyperboleEver
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April 29, 2020 11:02 am

I wonder who holds the record for longest GM career without a playoff appearance.

Kosta
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April 29, 2020 11:13 am

This is the kind of trivia we Kings fans should be good at!

Otis
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April 29, 2020 12:01 pm

I just assumed the answer was Elgin Baylor, but it looks like he made the playoffs in his 5th season as GM. The Clips did have an eight year streak of missing the playoffs, and 11 out of 12 during that stretch.

Kahn wasn’t around too long in Minny, I don’t think. Maybe Wes Unseld?

BestHyperboleEver
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April 29, 2020 12:22 pm
Reply to  Otis

Looks like Wes made it his first couple seasons in charge.

richie88
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April 29, 2020 9:10 pm

Maybe Vlade holds the record?

Sacto_J
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April 29, 2020 12:48 pm

Whew, I was afraid they were going to jettison both for top shelf candidates, package a couple of contracts to secure Kawhi Leonard, go on a serious tear through next season, win the chip and I’d have absolutely nothing to complain about. Luckily we have Vivek to make sure nothing like that ever happens…

Murf
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April 29, 2020 1:07 pm

The Kings will be trading Buddy at some stage soon right, now that Bogi is due more money, and they will be paying Fox and the team hasn’t got better. I just don’t trust this team to manage this roster and make the right moves. Is Heild not that good? or was he not used well by Walton last season, ie he is a shooter not a playmaker?

BestHyperboleEver
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April 29, 2020 4:52 pm
Reply to  Murf

Hield is historically good at what he does. He, like many of the Kings, just has major holes in his game that force your hand at other positions. On a team with multiple playmakers at other positions and the defenders to cover him, Hield would be an exceptional fit. On a team short on playmakers and defenders, his limitations become amplified.

Maximus
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April 29, 2020 1:52 pm

I am going play devil’s advocate by attempting to defend Luke Walton. I don’t think he is a bad coach. There is no convincing argument that he is a bad coach. Though I am not sure he is a good coach. Nevertheless, there are a few positives with Walton’s Kings.

Last time I noted how 2019-2020’s team is much better than 2018-2019’s team in term of spotting up (more frequency as well as better efficiency)
2019-2020’s team spot up link (https://go.nba.com/0va7)
2018-2029’s team spot up link (https://go.nba.com/chwk)

So this time I take a look at the team’s pick and roll possessions and how they progress from last year.
Last year This year(first 40 games) This year(first 56 games) This year(all games)
Freq 16.4% 19.5% 19% 19.2%
PPP 0.84 0.83 0.86 0.88
Rank 21st 18th 16th 12th
First observation, we run substantially more pick and roll this year. It makes sense because the drop off in transition frequency transfer to half court possessions, which is pick and roll possessions and spotting up possessions as a byproduct of pick and roll.

Second observation, we get better as the season went along. The first 40 games, we were just as bad as last year because Fox was injured for most of this period. The improvement started with Fox’s return.

Third observation is not very obvious. If I calculate the split, first 40 games vs last 24 games, the last 24 games come out to roughly be 0.96PPP, which is in the top 5 pick and roll offense. The team was performing definitely like a top 10 (perhaps a top 5) half court offense the last 24 games.

Last topic, I take a look at the team offense’s trend. They could be doing well in general but the trend could be downward, like Joerger’s team last year. So I did a plot of the team OFFRTG, game by game in chronological order starting beginning of the year (when Fox was back and healthy), subtracted by opponents’ DEFRTG (an attempt to reduce opponents factor). It came out to be a total of 30 games. When I fitted a trendline, it came out to have a substantial positive coefficient. So basically, ever since Fox was back, the offense kept getting better and better.

If we keep the same core players, we should be a top 10 offense next year, with a decent chance to move up to top 5. As well as the offense was playing the last 30 games, there could be a couple of minor improvements, having Holmes back as an efficient pick and roll finisher and having Bagley as a small ball center (my theory).

I am not sure if Walton is a good coach or Fox carried the team. We will find out next year.

P.S. Fox is better in every on-ball possession(pick and roll handler, transition, isolation). He took another big leap as a franchise player.

Ialmostmissthemaloofs
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April 29, 2020 5:54 pm

I dunno, right about now seems like an IDEAL time to make some changes. With nothing going on, this could be the perfect time to find us a new GM, and then let that guy have some real time to work with to find a coach to make this team function as it could/should.

Also… I miss the purple on comments that got likes. Any way we can get that feature back here?

Carl
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April 29, 2020 6:41 pm

I think Aykis (or one of the writers) said that feature is coming eventually. They’ve really done a good job here on limited time.

SelecaoKOJ
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April 29, 2020 8:17 pm

Not a surprise. Just delays the inevitable next rebuild. The team, as constructed is mediocre. There is no real Number 2 or 3 for that matter on this team. I am not even sure Fox is a Number 1 option on a playoff team. I am yet to see him take over against top flight competition consistently. The Western Conference will be tougher in 20-21. Rockets, Nugs, Clips, Lakers, Mavs, Jazz, and Dubs are automatic.
That leaves 1 spot for 7 other teams: Grizz, Pels, Kings, Spurs, Blazers, Suns, and Wolves.
I would go out on a limb to say the Grizz and Pels will be improved and better.

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