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.

DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'


DeMarcus Cousins: 'Take all them motherf****** down'

Some professional athletes take a stand by kneeling on the sidelines or raising a fist into the air. Some write succinct tweets expressing their dismay with the current political climate in the United States of America. Others just get right to the point with a poignant off the cuff statement to a waiting camera.

Former Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins has certainly mastered the art of the cryptic tweet, but he’s also never been one to shy away from a direct question when asked. When an inquiry was thrown his direction about confederate statues in New Orleans and his home state of Alabama, Cousins was brief with his words, but very clear.

"Take all them mother****ers down," Cousins told TMZ while navigating a security line at the airport. "Take 'em all down.”

Cousins may not have chosen the most eloquent words, but his point of view is shared by plenty of others. He isn’t the first athlete to take a stand with regards to race in America over the last week as racial tensions have spilled out into the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia. Social media is filled with professional athletes adding their thoughts to the conversation.

The Warriors’ Kevin Durant has made it clear that he will not visit the White House and President Donald Trump, a visit most teams make following an NBA championship.

"Nah, I won't do that," the 8-time All-Star told ESPN on Thursday. "I don't respect who's in office right now.”

"I don't agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant continued. “That's just me personally, but if I know my guys well enough, they'll all agree with me."

Garrett Temple has used Twitter to make his thoughts known as well. Recently named the Kings’ Players Voice Teammate of the Year by the National Basketball Players Association, Temple has used his position as an NBA player to speak out multiple times.

Over the last week, he’s fielded questions and had plenty of discussions through social media on the issues of race and equality. His Twitter timeline is littered with thoughtful replies and some not so thoughtful ideas as well. Plenty of fans thanking him for using his position to further the conversation and of course, there is the occasional, “stick to sports” comment.

Agree or disagree, today’s athletes have huge platforms to share their opinions. From Cousins to Temple, there are varying degrees of engagement, but the time of players staying out of the discussion is long gone.

The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act


The Maloofs' colossal charity bet on Mayweather-McGregor circus act

Gavin and Joe Maloof have gambled plenty in their lives, which is in part how they ended up losing the Sacramento Kings. They ran big, they hit a dry well, and they ended up selling the works.

So their decision to bet $880,000 on Floyd Mayweather in his “thing” with Conor McGregor for a $160,000 payout seemed the perfectly daft idea for two guys who were painted as perfectly daft when they were running the Kings and their other businesses into a freeway abutment on I-80.

In fairness, they are planning to donate their winnings to a number of charities in the name of their hangover drink (Never Too Hungover, although I might have gone with the more lyrical HurlNoMore), so it’s not like their hearts aren’t a place close to the mythical “right place.”

But it does beg the question, “Why don’t they just give $160,000 and skip the scam?” Because it wasn’t about charity, it was about promotion, and while there’s nothing wrong with promotion, attaching it to one of the seediest carnival events of the modern era makes it seem, well, kind of creepy.

Or maybe “creepy” is too strong. Maybe’s it’s just opportunism, which is more, well, Vegas-y.

Kings fans will remember the Maloofs as the family that saved the foundering team from the clutches of owner Jim Thomas, and then remember them as the family whose clutches Vivek Ranadive had to save the team from 15 years later. It’s the nature of most ownerships – you do good to eliminate a prior evil, and eventually become evil yourselves when the fans turn on you.

But the Maloofs aren’t evil – even their most strident critics will say that. They just saw an opportunity to scratch a bunch of itches at once – good-heartedness, advertising, gambling and Vegas’ most important product – selling you things you could never imagine wanting.

It almost makes you wonder if they harbor a secret itch to take the $160,000 and double down on behalf of the charities for another of their pet projects – the Vegas Golden Knights. If they put it on the Knights to win the Stanley Cup at 200-1, that’s $32,000,000. Then if they took that and . . .

. . . and before you know it, they’re trapped in the fantasyland of Las Vegas at its weirdest. Maybe it’s just performance art with more money than most of us can eat.