Geoff Petrie was one of many forgotten high-level personnel upon Vivek Ranadivé’s ownership of the Sacramento Kings. A two-time NBA Executive of the Year with the Kings during the franchise’s heyday around the new millennium, Petrie was replaced as general manager by Pete D’Allesandro shortly after Joe and Gavin Maloof sold the team to Ranadivé in May 2013.
Ranadivé, a tech giant who’s come under widespread scrutiny for his notoriously hands-on approach to Sacramento’s basketball operations, recently defended his three-year tenure as an owner in a sprawling interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick. According to Ranadivé, upheaval in the Kings’ front office during his first season with the team was the inevitable result of incumbent personnel members failing to perform their duties following the change in ownership.
Sam, that practice facility was empty. I had the draft was going to start, and players were going to come in for tryouts. There was nobody there. I needed somebody to go and actually work out the players. Nobody wanted to there. (incumbent general manager) Geoff (Petrie) didn’t want to be there. The coach (Keith Smart) didn’t want to be there. There was nobody there.
After catching wind of Ranadivés remarkably candid comments, Petrie sought to set the record straight. In a chat with Kevin Draper of Deadspin, the 68-year-old rebuked his former boss’s representation of circumstances surrounding the change in power.
As Petrie tells it, he and other key front-office employees continued doing their jobs in May and June 2013 despite the fact they were unlikely to be retained once Ranadivé began filling out the franchise around newly-hired coach Michael Malone.
Yeah, and I think you probably know this, but they hired Mike [Malone], and he came in and started hiring his staff, and you can call him and talk to him. He made any number of public comments about how impressed he was with the professionalism of our group and how helpful people were. We took all of our draft information, statistical information, put it all on iPads and gave it to him and other people so they would have it. We had ongoing draft workouts, we had them scheduled. We went over to Greece to scout Giannis [Antetokounmpo], the kid that Milwaukee took. We had a workout set up for him to come in, highly recommended that they work this kid out, and of course they didn’t.
The thing about this particular part of the interview, it’s just totally untrue. The idea that everybody wanted to … that there was nobody there to do any work. These are people that spent 10, 15, 20 years working for the Kings, who were part of the most successful period they ever had, and they’re now, it’s like, “because they don’t matter anymore, I can say anything I want about them.”
Malone, the only coach who’s ever struck a harmonious chord with Sacramento’s oft-mercurial franchise player, was fired just six weeks into his second campaign with the team as DeMarcus Cousins recovered from viral meningitis.
It bears mentioning that Ranadivé cops to a key mistake in his interview with USA Today: hiring Malone before having a general manager or all-around decision-making structure in place. According to Petrie’s account, though, Ranadivé’s know-it-all approach would have doomed the Kings regardless.
Is that why you think Vivek said these things?
I only had about an 8 or 10 minute little meeting with him. I found him to be a very arrogant and dismissive little chap. He doesn’t seem to understand that he owns it. He was the one that came in with Basketball 3.0, and changing the culture, “I have the smartest guys in the room, they’re four steps ahead of everybody else, I have 80 gigs of data, nobody else has that.” Well, okay, you know?
Sacramento received plaudits in May for replacing the disastrous George Karl with Dave Joerger, arguably the best coach on the open market. Might his appointment be what finally rights the ship? Perhaps. But if Petrie is to be believed, even on-court improvement will only matter so much for the Kings as long as an owner like Ranadivé is in charge.