The Sacramento Kings have long been talked about as one of the worst run organizations in the past few decades in the NBA. Building a new arena, surprising everyone last year and slowly starting to make a comeback this year has washed away some of the reputation, but did the Kings improve or just got lucky with D'Aron Fox?
You know the stories: Vlade Divac didn't know he had to call the league office when trading a player, their owner Vivek Ranadive seriously pushing the idea to cherry-pick in the NBA, having a new coach every year. Well, we can add one more: an employee spent multiple years stealing money from them, 13 million in total, and they found out about it by luck and a diligent employee in HR.
In a mind-blowing story by Kevin Arnovitz on ESPN, we learned how Jeff Daniel stole money from the Kings while working as their Cheif Revenue Officer. His job was to secure sponsorships, sell naming rights and event promotions.
To sum it up, Daniel opened an LLC and had partners like Kaiser Permanente and Golden 1 send some of the money to his LLC and not the Kings. In one instance, the Kings didn't even know he agreed for extra payment, and for other cases, he forged signatures.
You may get away with something like this in the short run, but hiding it for almost 7 years? Daniel got caught after a colleague, Stacy Wegzyn, the Kings' senior vice president of human resources, was looking over some of his files. Daniel got a new position with the Heat and left some things unclear so Wegzyn went through his directory to figure things out. While doing so, she found a folder called "TurboTax" and in a short time, FBI agents were visiting Jeff Daniel.
For all the details, read the full story, and pay attention to one detail. As much as other NBA executives are confident this would come out eventually (and they are probably right), Daniel's plan to get away with the fraud boils down to one thing. He knew how the Kings operated, and it wasn't the best of business practices.
There is a reason why this kind of things always happen to the same teams. It starts at the top.