Ailene Voisin, sports columnist
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  • Geoff Petrie: The Kings executive drafted Thomas Robinson, traded for James Johnson and signed Aaron Brooks.

  • Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: Kings' Petrie strikes out with offseason moves

Published: Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:54 pm

So let's be honest here. The 2012 offseason was not kind to the Kings.

Geoff Petrie took three swings, made three more moves and whiffed three more times.

No. 5 overall draft choice Thomas Robinson was exposed as a project instead of a highly coveted prospect.

James Johnson, acquired in a trade with the Toronto Raptors, resembles a Samoan wrestler instead of a powerful, athletic small forward.

And free-agent signee Aaron Brooks, who negotiated a buyout Friday and hopes to clear waivers today, was the latest candidate to stumble as the solution at point guard.

That list is long and seemingly ever-expanding. Sacramento native Kevin Johnson is still the best passer, shooter, facilitator and floor leader in the 916 area code, and how sad is that? The mayor celebrates his 47th birthday Monday.

Fortunately for long-suffering fans – and thinking maybe, just maybe, the mayor creates something out of the dust and ashes at the downtrodden Downtown Plaza – the future Kings will not look anything like the current assemblage. One can only hope.

An incoming owner figures to take a broom to the building, starting with members of the front office and the coaching staff, and continuing down a roster that has considerable talent but is overloaded with small guards and players with similar skills.

How large a factor in all this is the Maloofs' thin wallet? It has to be significant. Airline tickets, hotels and meals aren't cheap. You can't book scouting trips to Europe if you don't have the dough to fund the fare.

That said, cellphone charges are reasonable. Instinct and intuition are free. Energy is priceless. And Petrie, once a master at solving puzzles and piecing together teams – players with complementary talents, roles and personalities – enters the final weeks of his final season as Kings basketball president in a prolonged funk.

James Johnson has been inconsistent and appears to have packed on several pounds.

Robinson, the 6-foot-10 former Kansas star drafted ahead of guard Damian Lillard largely because of his size and instead of Andre Drummond because he was believed to have a greater upside, was a major disappointment. His inability to finish around the basket was frightening, his brooding nature almost as troubling.

Then there's Brooks. After a season in China, he signed a two-year, $6.6 million deal with the Kings and fully anticipated beating out Isaiah Thomas at starting point guard.

Instead, Brooks started the season as a backup, found himself squeezed by the abundance of small guards, failed to establish himself as an offensive tempo-changer, and became visibly discouraged and disinterested as his minutes diminished. In 46 games, the former Oregon standout averaged 8.0 points and 2.3 assists.

But no hard feelings. Brooks is just happy to be packing his bags. He graciously thanked Kings fans via his tweets.

"We're just going in different directions," Brooks said late Friday when reached on his cellphone. "Nothing happened. There were no issues. My agent (Leon Rose) is just trying to find another team."

Meanwhile, the players obtained days earlier from the Houston Rockets in the swap for Robinson – Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich – join a group of players who will approach these final 22 games like 22 audition sessions.

Coach Keith Smart's greatest obstacle will be to convince his players that, despite the obvious adversity and the team's unusual circumstances, foremost among them the arena uncertainty, their performances matter.

Teams scout other teams. Shrewd executives routinely poach from their peers, always on the lookout for winners. For the duration of this season, there will be plenty of eyes watching what happens in Sacramento, both on and off the court.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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