Kings' Petrie works amid uncertainty

Published: Monday, May. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 - 10:29 pm

There is more clarity to the Kings' ownership situation.

But that doesn't mean all the uncertainty surrounding the franchise disappeared when Vivek Ranadive and his ownership group agreed to purchase a controlling interest in the team last week.

Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie is interviewing prospects for next month's NBA draft while questions about how decisions will be made going forward remain unanswered.

In recent months, there had been little if any communication from the Maloofs about the future of the front office amid the proposed sale and relocation to Seattle that league owners voted down last week.

"I haven't had the opportunity to talk to anybody yet (from Ranadive's group)," said Petrie, whose contract expires at the end of June. "But my understanding is the sale probably won't officially close for a couple more weeks. How that plays into communication, I really don't know at this point."

What is known is the NBA draft lottery is Tuesday in New York. The Kings have a 6.3 percent chance of winning the first overall selection in a draft class some pundits consider underwhelming.

Petrie will be in New Jersey on Tuesday night for group workouts for draft prospects beginning Wednesday.

By the time the sale closes, the Kings will be less than a month from the first draft pick of the post-Maloof era.

The sooner Ranadive's group can begin making decisions, the sooner the Kings can start figuring out which direction they're going.

The issues aren't confined to whether Petrie is the one who makes the draft choice or whether coach Keith Smart is retained. The draft pick also would be dictated by whether management re-signs Tyreke Evans to a multiyear contract and how many players could be traded to improve financial flexibility.

"You're closing in on some planning, just structural, ownership-driven involvement that will have to happen in a much more compressed time frame here," Petrie said.

The opinion of many draft prognosticators is this year's class lacks a player who could make an immediate impact and lead to a significant jump in wins.

Kentucky freshman power forward-center Nerlens Noel could be the first overall pick. But he might not play until Christmas after tearing his left ACL in February.

Point guard Marcus Smart, who had been projected to go no lower than second by some experts, opted to return to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season.

Michigan point guard Trey Burke won numerous national Player of the Year awards but isn't touted as a difference maker by observers.

There also are a lot of big men to sift through after Noel.

"I think as far as the depth of the draft by position, I think that point guards – and they're smaller-type guards for the most part – there are some very skillful ones in this draft," Petrie said. "I think the four-five (power forward-center) type players, if you combine those two groups, there are players participating as fives that would be more like fours in the NBA, that type of thing. Those two spots, as far as depth goes, probably stand out a little bit."

That would put the Kings, as currently constructed, in a tough spot. Point guard is still an area of need after they passed on Damian Lillard last year to try to solidify depth at power forward by selecting Thomas Robinson fifth overall. Robinson was dealt to Houston in February. Lillard won the Rookie of the Year honor with Portland.

But the Kings don't need another small point guard and might be inclined to favor Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-6 playmaker.

And whether new ownership plans to commit long term to center DeMarcus Cousins would influence whether the Kings choose another big man.

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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