Check out quotes from Thursday’s post-Draft press conference, featuring Kings Majority Owner Vivek Ranadivé, General Manager Pete D’Alessandro and Head Coach Michael Malone.
“We’re very, very pleased – we’ve just completed our first Draft for the new era Kings. I’d like to say on behalf of the Kings organization that we’re very, very pleased with the result. Ben McLemore – he was our dream choice right from the get-go. In fact, our G.M., (Pete D’Alessandro), had told me he had a hunch he was going to get him and we all laughed at him … But I did say when we got the No. 7 pick that seven was my lucky number. When we were with the Warriors, we got (Stephen) Curry and (Harrison) Barnes at No. 7. (We) came to Sacramento and the Mayor, (Kevin Johnson), was picked at No. 7 – he wore No. 7 – my birthday is on the seventh, Chris Mullin was picked at No. 7 – so we felt seven was our lucky number, and sure enough, we got the guy who we all were dreaming about. We’re just very, very thrilled to have Ben join the Kings family.
“We then had No. 36, and our great G.M. had done his homework. He had the spreadsheet and he predicted (Ray McCallum) was the person we wanted – sure enough, just like clockwork, we got him.
“Now, I did want to say we liked McLemore so much that when the Draft started, we were trying to figure out ways to buy a higher pick. So we were calling people, seeing if we could pay (to get) up to No. 5 or No. 4 or No. 3. But as names kept getting called out and his name was still there, cheering broke out in (Kings Draft Headquarters) and we were thrilled to get Ben. I think this is the best Draft the Kings have had in years. I think it’s a Draft we can be proud of. I know the G.M. and the coach have been working long hours – I used to call Pete at 11, 11:30 at night and he was awake working in the office, as was the coach – so I’d like to thank them on behalf of the Kings organization.
“I also wanted to thank the fans. This organization, Kings fans – we’re No. 1 in terms of new (full-season) ticket sales, which is amazing. It’s incredible.”
On Draft approach:
“I have to say we had a very disciplined approach to the Draft. We had criteria, we had an order we looked at people in, and higher on our list of criteria was character. Is the person a gym rat? Does he like to play? We rejected a bunch of players because we felt they didn’t have the character. So, we stuck to the approach that was laid out by the G.M., and I think the decisions made were unanimous – there was no disagreement on anything. Of course, they made the decisions, but we had other people in the room.”
On everything coming together:
“People are saying this has a feel of destiny about it — and that’s a big word to use – but it’s just been a dream. Everything has been beyond everything I could have asked for, in getting the coach and the G.M. and now getting our first-choice pick. There’s obviously a lot of hard work ahead, and I know it’s going to be a busy summer, but so far so good.”
“Special night, special night – Ben is a special player. He’s someone our staff spent many hours watching, evaluating and debating. We debated about a lot of players, but (he was) the one player who we were sure about as this process began … to end up here today, after that whirlwind of what we just went through, is incredible.
“On the second-round pick, Ray McCallum is just one of the classiest, classiest young men you’ll ever meet and a heck of a player. I’m not going to talk long, but the first time I saw Ray this year, I was at my alma mater, St. John’s University. I was sitting next to Coach (Lou) Carnesecca and I did not tell him I was there to see Ray McCallum – I just sat next to him. At some point, somewhere in the very first part of the game – I don’t know if you remember Coach, when he would get excited on the sidelines, it was all these moves and these herky-jerky things – at some point he went and hit me. I turned around and said, ‘What coach?’ and he goes, ‘I think that kid’s a player.’ He had no idea (I was scouting McCallum). So, that’s how long we’ve been studying Ray – that was early in the year at St. John’s.
“(I’m) just very excited to say this is the first Draft where I get to work with an incredible group of people – of staff – a coach like Michael Malone and an owner like Vivek. A lot of credit (goes) to the whole staff – Mike Bratz, my assistant G.M. many of you met, Shareef (Abdur-Rahim), you all know, George McCloud, Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond. There are so many people. It took our whole group, but we worked very, very hard along with our coaching staff and we’re really happy.”
On the Draft process:
“When we rank out our guys, we ranked them out for us. There are Draft boards and websites, but we ranked them out for us, and our staff spent hours debating and figuring it out.
“I think (we knew McLemore might be available) early. (Anthony) Bennett is a very excellent player, (but) no one knew who was going to go first – none of us knew who was going to go. I don’t know if anyone in the League knew who was going to go first. So much of it is trying to build out where you see it going from that first pick, so this made it really difficult. I think when Bennett got picked, right away Michael and I looked at each other and thought, ‘We might get our guy.’ We didn’t know, but (we thought) we might because we had it laid out and we thought, ‘This could go our way.’ We were serious about getting him, we were serious about moving up to get him – we were very active today in that effort. It didn’t work out (to move up), but it did (end up the way we wanted) – sometimes it goes that way. This is our guy – make no mistake, this is our guy. (We’re) just very pleased with (the Draft).”
On Draft approach:
“Our needs were in the best player we can get. When all things are even, maybe (we’d) look at positions, but we found what we thought at that position in the Draft was the best player we can get – without regard for position and with one thing in mind – taking those incremental steps we speak about, about getting better and bringing excitement back into this town to these fans who really deserve it … these players were the right players for this town and I really do believe it.”
On not having a private, pre-Draft workout with McLemore:
“I saw him a few times this year. In fact, I personally had him ranked – in my time with my previous job (in Denver) – as the No. 1 guy in this Draft. When you go through a Draft process, you kind of start somewhere, then you go somewhere else, then you back up. Throughout this year, I never came off that feeling, to the point where Vivek and I were sitting on the court a couple of days ago having a discussion, and I don’t know if I was just wishing, but I really felt this was really going to be our guy. I read something on an Internet site that said he might be slipping, and all of a sudden, it just occurred to me that I really think we’re going to get this guy. I don’t know why, but I just think we’re going to get him.”
“I just want to say one thing before we open it up (to questions) – a goal of mine for this team this year will be, let’s get better every day. One thing I can say very confidently is that we got better today by the two young men we drafted – from a talent perspective, from a culture perspective, we have just added two talented young men who will make this team better from a personal standpoint and also from a cultural standpoint. They will help us immediately on the court and in our locker room. So, as we told both of those guys – Ben and Ray – on the phone, we are thrilled to have them be a part of our family, we can’t wait to get them here to welcome them with open arms and more importantly, to get them on the court and start working. So, very short and sweet, but it’s been a great day and we definitely got better today.”
On drafting Ben McLemore:
“He is a very talented player, and we feel very fortunate he fell to us at No. 7. Not too often do you get a guy who can shoot the ball as well as he can and who is also the athlete that he is. He brings two of those skill sets to the table, which is great.
“Can he get better? Of course he can. Anybody we bring to this team we’re going to expect to get better – whether it’s a Draft pick, free agent, trade (acquisition) – whoever he is. You can always look to get better, and obviously he has a lot of things he can do right now, but we’re going to expect him to become a better defensive player, improve his ball handling, his passing, his shooting, whatever it might be. I think both he and Ray McCallum would admit wholeheartedly that coming into the NBA, they are going to have to improve in the weight room and on the court.”
On how new additions will help change the culture:
“(It’s) a fresh start for both of these kids. Ray McCallum’s a coach’s son – he comes from a great background. We all have kind of learned about Ben McLemore’s background – coming up from St. Louis, tough background, didn’t have much coming up and how his mom kept that family together. (He played for University of Kansas Head Coach) Bill Self, who did a great job of coaching him and helping him mature on the court and off the court.
“You always do background checks and a lot of research on guys and they pass with flying colors in all those categories. They’re great kids who are excited to be here and we want guys who want to be here. Both of these guys, in talking to them once we selected them, (are) ecstatic because I think they also know what’s going on here. We have a new ownership group, a new front office and a new coaching staff. As Vivek mentioned, our new (full-season) ticket sales right now are No. 1 in the NBA. This is a great place to come into right now to help us turn this around. I think both of those guys are looking very much to helping us with that challenge. They’re just positive guys, great players and we know they’re going to come in here and buy into what we are doing.”
Stay current with Kings.com for details regarding an upcoming introductory press conference for Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum.