James Ham

Brandon Williams brings survivalist's mindset to Kings: 'I smell the game'


Brandon Williams brings survivalist's mindset to Kings: 'I smell the game'

SACRAMENTO -- The Scott Perry era in Sacramento lasted all of five minutes, but the veteran NBA exec left a mark on the Kings franchise. His connections helped land top tier talent during draft season and he played a role in the free agent class that included high-end veterans George Hill, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter.

Perry left for the Big Apple after just three months on the job, creating a need in the Kings’ front office. With a clear understanding of what type of piece the team needed to add, Vlade Divac and his group looked for a versatile executive to fill the huge shoes left by Perry.

On Sunday afternoon, up and comer Brandon Williams filled the vacancy on the staff when he was announced as the team’s new Assistant General Manager.

“We are so excited that Brandon is joining our front office team,” said Divac in the team’s official press release. “He is an experienced and talented basketball executive. His knowledge of player development and basketball operations combined with his legal skills will be a strong addition to our team.”

He’s not a flashy name outside of NBA circles. As a player, Williams played just 18 games in the league over three seasons for three different teams. He spent another handful of years in the minor leagues and in Europe before changing paths.

“I had a very nomadic, hobo type of career,” Williams told NBC Sports California Monday via phone. “I do remember a visit into Arco Arena and experiencing Sacramento fans. You never forget that.”

As for his role in Sacramento, Williams is looking to fill the gaps missing in the Kings front office. He’ll work alongside Divac, Ken Catanella, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bratz and Luke Bornn.

“I’m coming in to work for Vlade, first and foremost, to be a partner and be a support,” Williams said. “I’m really excited about his leadership.”

As an executive, the 42-year-old Davidson grad worked his way through the league office before joining the Philadelphia 76ers staff four years ago. He was the Director of NBA Player Development from 2005-07 before taking the role of Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA from 2007-13.

In addition to his experience as a player and league exec, Williams also holds a law degree from Rutgers University. He understands the scouting, business and contractual sides of the NBA.

“I think across all personnel, all day-to-day basketball operations matters, I’ll be there to be one of his hands - whether it’s right or left, I’m here to be his deputy,” Williams said of his role under Divac with the Kings.

From the diverse team that Divac has assembled to a flock of young players to the new Golden 1 Center, Williams said there was a lot to be excited about in Sacramento.

Williams hopes to take his experience as a player that spent years trying to earn his way into the league to counsel the Kings’ young core. He’ll look to build relationships and trust with the players as the team continues to rebuild its culture.

“I didn’t have the experience of being a first round pick, I was undrafted and I didn’t have a multi-year contract,” Williams said of his time as a player. “But the mindset that I had to have in order to survive in order to have any kind of career, was one that I was going to fight for my career everyday.”

Like Divac, Williams walks in with the knowledge that the Kings rebuild will require patience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint when you open a season with 10 players with two years of NBA experience or less.

“We’re looking at this long-term, not short-term,” Williams said. “We want to be able to do great things. There are no short cuts to the top. There are shortcuts to the middle, but there are no shortcuts to the top. If we not only want to be a good team, but be a good team for a long time, we’ll take our time and make sure that we’re built on the right foundational, cultural pieces.”

With Perry’s departure, the Kings were in need of a jack-of-all-trades type in the front office. There is a hope around the team that Williams will provide the support that Divac and the rest of the front office needs as the franchise looks to build a foundation from the ground up.

“I’m a basketball man, I spent my entire life playing and sort of graduating,” Williams said. “When you’ve been a basketball person to start, I don’t think that ever leaves you. I see the game. I smell the game. I feel the game. And I relate with our players and coaches because it’s sort of my first language.”

Williams is in transition to Sacramento and hopes to be in town full-time very soon. With training camp still more than a month away, the Kings have plenty of time to integrate their newest front office member.

How two-way contract additions Cooley, Sampson fit with Kings

How two-way contract additions Cooley, Sampson fit with Kings

The Sacramento Kings continued their offseason of change Saturday morning, adding two more players to their expanded roster rollover. Jack Cooley and JaKarr Sampson were added via the NBA’s new two-way contract, giving the Kings two more able bodied players to come into camp with.

The two-way contract is the NBA’s next step in establishing a true minor league system with G-League (formerly the D-League). Teams can add a 16th and 17th rostered player that they can then bounce back and forth with their G-League affiliate team. Sampson and Cooley are eligible for a $75,000 contract, which is substantially higher than the $26,000 cap of a standard G-League signee.

Both Sampson and Cooley are also eligible for a maximum of 45 days of call-ups to the parent club, where they make a prorated portion of the NBA’s $812,000 league minimum salary.

On a team filled with highly paid veterans and first round picks on guaranteed deals, both Sampson and Cooley have tried to break into the league the hard way. Neither jump off the page as potential future starters, but there is a way for both of them to fit with Sacramento as the current roster is constructed.

Cooley spent last season with Riesen Ludwigsburg of the German basketball Bundesliga. After going undrafted out of Notre Dame, he’s spent Summer League with the Kings and turned heads with his gritty style of play.

The 6-foot-10 power forward is a banger inside and a plus rebounder. He’ll provide organizational depth in case Skal Labissiere struggles in his sophomore season or an unexpected injury to 36-year-old Zach Randolph.

Cooley, 26, also gives the Kings the opportunity to take it slow with rookie Harry Giles, who has a history of knee injuries and played sparingly last season at Duke. After bouncing around the world chasing his basketball dreams, Cooley will likely act as a mentor to Giles both in Sacramento and with the Reno Bighorns.

Sampson went undrafted out of St. John’s in 2014. He’s played 147 games in his NBA career during stops in Philadelphia and Denver, but he spent last season with the Iowa Energy of the D-League. The 24-year-old small forward earned a D-League All-Star spot, while posting 15.1 points, 5.9 rebounds in 25.7 minutes per game.

Like Cooley, the high flying wing joined Sacramento in Las Vegas and played well. The Kings don’t have a conventional roster spot available for Sampson, but he has a lot more experience than either Malachi Richardson or Justin Jackson at the small forward position.

He has a motor that doesn’t stop and at 6-foot-9, 214-pounds, Sampson has great size at a position of need. He is a strong defender and he likes to finish above the rim. In a perfect world, he might compete for a rotational spot with the club while the rookies fight to earn playing time.

Sampson may earn minutes, but the limitations of the 2-way contract, matched with the team’s need to develop their young additions at the wing will limit his time with the parent club.

Cooley and Sampson are players who have worked hard to earn another shot in the NBA. They play with a blue collar mentality and can bring an interesting perspective for a group of young players that know nothing but the security of a first round rookie scale contract.

82 games is a long season. Chances are Cooley and Sampson will make an appearance this season in a Kings uniform, even if it’s for a quick look.

Source: Kings have no interest in De'Aaron Fox-for-Kyrie Irving swap

Source: Kings have no interest in De'Aaron Fox-for-Kyrie Irving swap

SACRAMENTO -- The rumor mill never takes a day off. De’Aaron Fox and his Sacramento teammates were hit with a new round of speculation Sunday morning when a report broke out of Cleveland regarding the Kings interest in All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving.

According to Sam Amico, the Kings are expected to offer Fox, along with veteran Kosta Koufos and possibly more for Irving, who is coming off his best season as a pro. The 25-year-old point guard posted 25.2 points and 5.8 assists last season for Cleveland and is under contract for two more seasons with a player option for a third year.

A league source confirmed to NBC Sports California that the Kings have no interest in dealing Fox, who they acquired with the 5th overall selection in June’s NBA Draft. The 19-year-old is considered the future of the franchise at the point guard position and according to the source, any rumor of the team offering him in a deal are false.

Published reports have Irving asking for a trade out of Cleveland. Sacramento was not on Irving’s short list of potential destinations and the likelihood of the Kings coming up with the assets to acquire the four-time All-Star are slim, unless they are willing to completely change course on their rebuild and gut their young core.