COMMENTARY | Sacramento Kings fans should soon have a better sense of what the team's front office will look like under new owner Vivek Ranadive. With head coach Michael Malone already in place, the general manager position is the last major position to fill as the front office is restructured following the dismissal of Geoff Petrie.
Just a year ago, GM for the Sacramento Kings would have surely been viewed as one of the worst jobs in the league. How could someone be expected to manage a roster for a franchise with cash-strapped ownership playing in arguably the worst arena in the league? But with the Ranadive era now in full swing, all that is history, and the search for the GM has turned into a circus of rumors.
First, a look at legitimate contenders:
Contender A. Chris Wallace - According to the Sacramento Bee, the current Memphis Grizzlies GM has already interviewed three times for the position. He did a great job working in the small market of Memphis. This move is lateral on paper, though he would likely have a larger voice in Sacramento. On the other hand, he would assume all the risks inherent in overseeing a rebuilding franchise. Wallace would have to be enticed by the city itself or a larger contract, or perhaps the professional challenge of building a team from scratch.
Contender B. Pete D'Alessandro - The Nuggets' front office is being poached left and right, and for good reason. The Nuggets have done two things extremely well over the past few years. First, they have drafted exceptionally well in the latter half of the first round, selecting Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and Evan Fournier. Second, they executed an amazing trade of Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks at a time when Melo basically decimated his own trade value by telegraphing to the rest of the league that he would only sign with New York once he hit free agency. Somehow, the Nuggets' brass still managed to swindle several nice assets from the Knicks anyway, including emerging small forward Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.
D'Alessandro is known to be a whiz with the collective bargaining agreement and trade execution. He deserves some credit for the Melo deal. It's uncertain what role he had in the recent selections of Faried and Fournier, but you can't argue with the result. If the Kings can shore up their scouting infrastructure, D'Alessandro could be a great GM and would likely come cheaper than Wallace. The Nuggets may make a move to keep him, though.
Contender C. Travis Schlenk - The current assistant GM for Golden State makes sense because of Ranadive's familiarity with him. And while it's undoubtedly helpful to have an owner, coach, and GM who are all friendly with one another, there's also a risk in that approach as well. If Ranadive is really intent on forging the kind of dynamic, creative organization necessary to succeed in a small market, why mine the talent of just one other team in the league? Sacramento should be wary of turning into a facsimile of Golden State, and Ranadive would be wise to pull in new faces from around the league.
And now, on to the pretenders:
Pretender A. Kenny Smith - It's wonderful that media personalities like Smith are all of a sudden giving Sacramento some love. It's proof that Ranadive is succeeding in making Sacramento attractive to the rest of the NBA community. But there's no logical reason to give Kenny Smith a serious look at the GM job, and it's likely this "rumor" is simply an exercise in self-promotion.
If Smith wants to transition out of television commentary (which he shouldn't, given his excellent rapport with Charles Barkley on TNT), that's fine, but he'll need to bank some experience in lower-level positions before he can present himself as a serious candidate for a GM vacancy.
Pretender B. Larry Bird - His candidacy always seemed to be, in a word, odd. Bird's Midwestern roots run so deep that it's difficult to see him out in Sacramento. And there was something quizzical about the way he perfunctorily dissed the job so soon after interviewing for it, suggesting that there may be more to the story that has yet to be revealed. Don't fault Ranadive for considering him, though. If he can attract even feigned interest from basketball legends like Bird, it's simply more PR fodder for the Kings.
Pretender C. Chris Webber - Somehow, an Internet rumor circulated that suggested the former All-Star PF for the Kings was in the mix for the general manager position (see criticisms of Kenny Smith and multiply them by a factor of 5). It now appears that was all incorrect, and Webber is merely in line for an unspecified personnel-oriented front office position.
There are a host of another candidates out there as well, including names like Bryan Colangelo. You can file most of them in the folder labeled "retreads." While some may be great candidates, it's tough to make a case for any of them that's more compelling than what you could say of Wallace, D'Alessandro or Schlenk. Expect one of those three to be the next general manager of the Sacramento Kings.
Doug Brockwell is a lifelong follower of NBA basketball who grew up cheering for the Denver Nuggets. After relocating to Northern California in 2008, he began to follow the Sacramento Kings, who remind him of the endearingly hapless Nuggets squads of the '90s that he endured as a kid.
- Sports & Recreation
- Sacramento Kings
- Vivek Ranadive
- Chris Wallace
- Kenny Smith