Phoenix, Sacramento, and Atlanta passing on Luka Donic will haunt the teams for the next 10-15 years. Atlanta can rationalize their decision with Trae Young and Cam Reddish. But Phoenix had Luka’s national team coach, Igor Kokoškov, as their head coach and went with Ayton. Sacramento’s front office is led by Vlade Divac and Peđa Stojaković, both plugged into the ex-Yugoslavian basketball scene, and they went with Marvin Bagley III. Both teams had insight on a wunderkind oversized point guard and chose big men in 2018.
Given the Suns’ dysfunctionality and the fact Ayton is from their owner’s alma mater, it’s not difficult to put two and two together. What about Sacramento? Vlade Divac felt Luka and D’Aron Fox weren’t a great fit and went with Bagley. His coach, Dave Joerger wasn’t happy about that. Joerger and Divac had clashed before, and drafting Bagley over Luka didn’t help.
Joerger started the season with Bagley on the bench, despite getting a lot of pressure from the front office to start him. Unlike professional teams, the Kings aired their dirty laundry in front of everyone. Joerger told reporters that not drafting Luka was because of “an idea that there was a ceiling on him,” he had said. “I don’t see it, unfortunately for us.” Things got worse.
Joerger was chatting with a Dallas staff member who was seated near Divac at a game. After finishing the conversation, Joerger provocatively told Divac that he had arranged a trade that would finally bring Luka to Sacramento. Divac had a comeback ready.
“Do I get their coach, too?”Vlade Divac, via The Athletic
I always wondered what’s the point in which insiders and reporters decide it’s legitimate to talk about a dysfunctional team situation. Every source has their own angle and agenda, you have to asses their bias and make a decision. It had never occurred to me that someone paid millions to run a business would discuss “family business” in the open like that.
That’s what puts you in the Knicks tier of “they will find a way to mess this up.” A truly epic level of unprofessional, petty, teenage behavior. All three teams probably made a mistake by not drafting Luka. But we know Phoenix and Sacramento will find a way to really mess it up.