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Kings Continue Offseason Blunders by Firing Dean Oliver

Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports

Numerous reports on Twitter have surfaced revealing that Kings VP Vlade Divac has fired analytics guru and front office executive Dean Oliver:

Oliver was hired a year ago under the recommendation of former GM Pete D’Alessandro and still had a number of years left on his contract. Firing Oliver only a year after hiring him is the latest in a series of questionable decisions the Kings have been making this offseason.

Dean Oliver is a legend in analytics circles. His book, Basketball on Paper, revolutionized the use of statistics in basketball in 2002. He was also responsible for creating the four factors of basketball analysis, created offensive and defensive rating, and contributed much of the work in scaling statistics per possession. He was the first full-time statistician hired by an NBA team and brought over 15 years of experience in his NBA consulting work. Oliver is a true pioneer of the analytics movement in basketball, and firing one of the smartest guys in analytics circles doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Initial reports indicated that Divac fired Oliver because of his distaste for analytics altogether. However, it looks like the problem was more in the relationship between Divac and Oliver rather than Divac’s general stance on the use of analytics in the front office. Bill Herenda, who covers the team for CSN, suggests that the Kings are looking to replace Oliver and continue to use analytics as a tool within the organization:

In addition to removing Oliver, Divac is also looking to add to the staff by reaching out to former Kings teammates. The Kings have recently offered another former player, Peja Stojacovic, a prominent role in the front office and USA Today’s Sam Amick tweeted that they’re looking to add Bobby Jackson to their staff as well.

Divac recently took over for D’Alessandro, who quickly found a new position with the Denver Nuggets. Questions already abounded regarding Divac’s qualifications as a basketball exec prior to the mess he’s created this summer. He had only one year of experience as a scout before becoming the lead decision-maker in basketball operations for the Kings.

The Oliver departure continues a recent line of embarrassing stories for the Kings organization. Vivek Ranadive bought the team in 2013 from the Maloof brothers and fans had high expectations for a new ownership group. Ranadive has been heavily criticized as an owner though. The Kings fired coach Mike Malone after a promising start to last season and the team subsequently took a huge nosedive in the standings. Ranadive also made news with his suggestion to play 4-on 5-basketball. The departure of Chris Mullin, the mess in replacing D’Alessandro with Divac, a very public fallout between new coach George Karl and star player DeMarcus Cousins, and what many consider a poor free agency period for the team only made matters worse.

It’ll be difficult to replace Oliver, who’s widely considered one of the most brilliant minds in basketball. His loss continues a strange offseason for the Sacramento.

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