During the 2012-13 NBA season, the Sacramento Kings were on the verge of the same kind of misery that they've been facing for the past few seasons. Throughout that eight month season, there was a constant battle that raged on between Seattle and the citizens of Sacramento for possession of the Kings moving forward.
Fast forward to late October, and the Kings are in one of their most secure positions in years with new owner Vivek Randadive and an arena that will begin construction in 2014. With that said, the current on-court product is still under construction, as the team will be looking to build around DeMarcus Cousins, who was recently signed to an extension.
To help with the re-construction of the team, the Kings recently acquired the Reno Bighorns to be their sole D-League affiliate going into the 2013-14 season. Reno's first big move under Sacramento's reign was assigning former NBA All-Star and current Director of Player Personnel Shareef Abdur-Rahim to be the Bighorns' new General Manager.
Recently, RidiculousUpside.com had the opportunity to talk with Abdur-Rahim about his new role with Reno, the balance between his two roles and of course the future of the NBA Development League.
Q: What are your thoughts on the past relationship between Reno and Sacramento, and why was it necessary for the Kings to purchase the Bighorns?
A: The relationship in the past has been good. It's been different because it hasn't been a single affiliation situation or having our team being connected to them. With as many as three or four teams sharing the affilate, the goals of the Sacramento Kings weren't the priority. We look forward to the relationship.
Q: As an outsider working with the Kings, did you notice or learn anything from other single affiliate teams like Canton with the Cavs or Rio Grande Valley with the Rockets?
A: You know, from the outside looking in, you notice their ability to take their young players to their D-League teams and allow them to be able to play and maybe be able to allow their developments be the priority. Maybe be able to do similar things, if not the same thing, when it comes to play calling or defensive scheme wise as they would with their parent NBA team.
Q: What will the balance between the Kings and Reno be when it comes to moving the young players in between the NBA and D-League?
A: That balance will be more for the coaches and General Manager in Sacramento to decide how they want to assign them. My responsibility is to ensure that when they assign them, the structure and organization is in place so they can benefit from the time in Reno and can develop as if they were in Sacramento.
Q: Will you be in charge of the D-League draft process?
A: I will.
Q: When you look at that draft, will you try to create the best D-League team or select players who could work in Sacramento?
A: The purpose for the draft with how the D-League is set up, you want to try to identify good players but in that regard, you're trying to put together a team. The players who are currently signed with the Kings or are here with us during training camp, Reno will be a place for them to grow and develop. But when it comes to drafting or making trades, those things will be for the purpose of putting together a good team with an eye on looking for talent. With that said, we're going to be trying to improve and get players that have the chance to be on the NBA team.
Q: As a former player, what would you change about the D-League to make it a more enticing commodity for players who want to play in the NBA but are still getting more lucrative overseas offers?
A: Well, I'm personally still learning about the league, so it would be unfair to offer my opinion on that. But I think that the more NBA teams that have direct D-League affiliates, it helps in that aspect.
In the past, there was a problem because the D-League team didn't have any loyality to us to try and help our players develop or play our prospect because they had conflicting interest. In this situation moving forward, we should solve all of that as we try to create a new position that will allow the young players that are on the D-League team to develop and get better, while allowing the prospects in Sacramento to be in a situation where they can develop too.