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Seattle owners could target R.C. Buford or Larry Bird to run franchise

The new Seattle NBA ownership group has begun discussing possible candidates to run its franchise and has deliberated whether to target San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford and former Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

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Spurs general manager R.C. Buford has helped build one of the NBA's most successful franchises. (Getty Images)

The ownership group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer has finalized an agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings and plans to move the team to Seattle for the 2013-14 season. The pending owners want to completely redo the franchise's basketball infrastructure, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Seattle group believes it will need to completely rebuild the franchise, and that means hiring an executive with a strong history of drafting, player evaluation and organization building.

Kings GM Geoff Petrie, who is in the final year of his contract, will not be retained, sources said. Petrie is expected to retire at season's end, league sources said.

[Related: Maloof family finalizes deal to sell Kings]

Buford is considered one of the preeminent executives in the NBA, responsible for shaping the roster for four Spurs championships and maintaining the league's model organization. Under Buford and president/coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs have created an unmatched infrastructure of international scouting that's led to the drafting of numerous elite players, including Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Luis Scola.

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Larry Bird left the Pacers after last season. (AP)

To convince Buford to leave San Antonio, where he enjoys close personal and professional relationships with Popovich and owner Peter Holt, the Seattle group might need to offer a small percentage of equity into the franchise and give him autonomy to assemble and run basketball operations. Any potential offer in Seattle would need to be extraordinary to get Buford to leave the Spurs.

Bird, the NBA's 2011 Executive of the Year, stepped away from the Pacers in the spring to take care of some health issues, but had planned to return in 2013 or '14. Bird wants to work again and there's nothing contractual that binds him to the Pacers. Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard are running the Pacers' front office now.

As GM, Bird replenished the Pacers' roster with multiple top young players through the draft, including Roy Hibbert, Paul George and Danny Granger.

If the new Seattle group ultimately searches for lower-profile candidates with strong player personnel backgrounds, Boston assistant GM Ryan McDonough, who had a significant hand in the drafting of Rajon Rondo and Al Jefferson, and Oklahoma City's Troy Weaver, whose draft résumé includes Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, could surface as candidates.

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