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  • JOSÉ LUIS VILLEGAS / jvillegas@sacbee.com

    Guard Tyreke Evans embraces new Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive during a rally Thursday in Sacramento. Ranadive must soon decide on Evans' future.

  • Bobby Jackson, a Kings assistant coach and former Kings player, hugs former Monarchs star Ruthie Bolton on Thursday before the "Long Live the Kings" rally at Cesar Chavez Plaza in Sacramento.

  • Geoff Petrie

  • Vivek Ranadive

New Sacramento Kings owners must quickly decide on staff, team

Published: Friday, May. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 - 5:38 pm

The new ownership won't take control of the Kings for at least another week, but the process of sorting out the future has already begun.

New majority owner Vivek Ranadive met briefly with Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie on Thursday before attending the "Long Live the Kings" rally at Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento.

Petrie's contract expires at the end of June.

Petrie had planned to attend this week's predraft group workout in New Jersey. Instead, he's in California as the transition from the Maloof family to Ranadive's group takes place.

Ranadive said there will be an urgency in sorting out the basketball operations.

"When the deal closes at the end of next week, we want to start getting into that very quickly," Ranadive said during a brief session with media.

Besides Petrie, a decision has to be made on coach Keith Smart. While the rest of the coaching staff is not under contract for next season, Smart's contract runs through the 2013-14 season.

Ranadive wants to meet with Smart, too.

The Kings will pick seventh in the first round of the draft June 27, so clarity within basketball operations is important.

"I want to sit down with everyone as quickly as possible," Ranadive said.

Kings guard Isaiah Thomas said he's in touch with Smart via text message at least once a week, discussing basketball.

Thomas had positive things to say when asked what he would relay to Ranadive about Smart.

"He's a great guy, a motivator, a guy that's going to do whatever it takes to win," Thomas said. "Just like us players, we've got to improve each and every year, and he knows he's got to improve. … I'm going to tell them he's a great coach, a great guy that really motivates you to become the best person you can be."

Tyreke Evans said he benefited from Smart playing him at small forward and eventually moving him to shooting guard.

Evans played point guard when he won Rookie of the Year for the 2009-10 season, but Smart believed Evans could blossom off the ball.

"Hopefully, if he does stay, we can get this thing on the road and get a playoff run," Evans said. "If not, he was a good coach to me while he was here. We'll see what happens."

The sooner there is clarity in the front office and on the sideline, the sooner the focus can shift to the roster.

The Kings have posted seven consecutive losing seasons. Eight players from this season are under contract for next season.

The Kings hold a team option for Thomas.

The biggest decision involves Evans. If the Kings make him a qualifying offer, he would be a restricted free agent and the Kings could match any other team's offer if Evans signs an offer sheet.

If the Kings do not extend the qualifying offer, Evans would become an unrestricted free agent and they could lose him without compensation.

How that plays out will depend on who is making the decisions in the front office and if the coach – either Smart or a new one – believes Evans fits his style of play.

Evans said he met Ranadive briefly and will be watching to see how things play out. He added that his agent, Arn Tellem, plans to meet with management when things are settled.

"I'm going to wait until everything gets cleared up, talk with my agent, my brothers and see where we go from there," Evans said. "Other than that, I'm still a King and I'm happy to be here."

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

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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