Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: Ranadive bucks tradition by picking coach before GM

Published: Friday, May. 31, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 - 5:38 pm

With his purchase of the Kings expected to close today by 5 p.m., majority owner Vivek Ranadive will move quickly to announce Mike Malone as head coach but will take a more deliberate, methodical approach in selecting a general manager.

Historically, this would be a major no-no. Incoming general managers want to choose their coaches and staffs, to ensure that philosophies are similar and shared, personalities mesh and the potential for a compatible working relationship exists.

But around here, conventional thinking went the way of the Sonics; Ranadive already sprung one major surprise when he rescued the Kings.

"I like to have all the information but am not afraid to make decisions," the Silicon Valley software entrepreneur said recently. "I like to be innovative, think outside the box."

What we know is that Golden State Warriors assistant Mike Malone will be the Kings' next coach and Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk and Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace have interviewed for the general manager opening.

The interest level of other candidates – including former Indiana Pacers general manager Larry Bird – is being explored. And while it might not be a deal breaker, there is some concern within the new ownership group that hiring too many Golden State types would cultivate the perception of the Kings as Warriors Lite.

Regardless, Geoff Petrie's successor needs to be a pretty quick study.

The prototype is someone who can recognize and overcome the limitations of a small market, understands the importance of having a strong presence within the community – crucial in a one-team town – and is willing to gut the roster long before groundbreaking ceremonies at the new arena site.

With the exception of center DeMarcus Cousins – who will not be traded, by the way – the old blueprint should be shredded and rewritten. The Kings need shooters, passers, a small forward, an athletic power forward and a starting point guard. They need players with complementary skills and personalities. They need players with character, not another character. They need defense and discipline and, desperately, an identity.

Here's a look at a deep, diverse pool of potential candidates to run the Kings' basketball operations:

Larry Bird – He drafted Roy Hibbert, Paul George and Lance Stephenson, signed David West, traded for George Hill and hired coach Frank Vogel. And where is he now? On sabbatical because of health issues and because he wanted a break, and perhaps because it was time for a change. Pacers patriarch Donnie Walsh is lobbying for his return, which seems only fair. That said, Ranadive's most influential advisers rank Bird near the top of the wish list, so there is little doubt contact has been made.

Kevin Pritchard – Now the No. 2 in Indiana under Walsh, Pritchard was Bird's trusted top lieutenant. Though his relationship with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen ended badly, Pritchard was extremely popular during his earlier experience in Portland and remains well-respected. He is smooth and dynamic, and if Bird returns to the Pacers, Pritchard probably wants his own gig.

Chris Wallace – Working with one of the NBA's smallest staffs, the longtime Grizzlies general manager endured withering criticism for the Pau Gasol trade that produced Marc Gasol, was forced to live with former owner Michael Heisley's horrific decision to draft Hasheem Thabeet with a No. 2 pick and went on to assemble one of the better rosters in the Western Conference. But with one-time Kings executive Jason Levien stepping in as CEO and team president, Wallace is feeling the squeeze.

Kevin O'Connor – The longtime Utah Jazz executive has ceded daily responsibilities to first-year general manager Dennis Lindsey and seems closer to retirement than taking on a new challenge. Too bad. O'Connor is an excellent front-office executive who has done wonders in a small market.

Travis Schlenk – The Warriors' assistant general manager has a varied background that includes four seasons as Pat Riley's video coordinator in Miami. In nine seasons in Oakland, Schlenk moved up the ranks and assists general manager Bob Myers in everything from talent assessment to contract negotiations. Schlenk has powerful and loyal backers in the the Warriors' front office. But with Malone becoming the Kings' next coach, would Ranadive risk having two rookies in his two most important positions? Again, predict Ranadive at your peril.

Bryan Colangelo – The son of USA Basketball czar Jerry Colangelo was demoted in Toronto, but he pieced together the Phoenix Suns' roster during their most recent run at a conference title.

Troy Weaver – Eliminated from consideration because Oklahoma City, for a second straight season, is precluding teams from contacting general manager Sam Presti's guy.

R.C. Buford – Eliminated from consideration because he will fight to the end with Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan in San Antonio, sort of like Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett at the nearby Alamo.

David Kahn – Though he attended the celebration at the Cesar Chavez Plaza, the former Minnesota Timberwolves general manager was here to meet with Mayor Kevin Johnson and chat with Mark Friedman, the prominent developer who will design the new downtown arena. Kahn's draft history with the T-wolves (Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, Derrick Williams) cost him his job, but he works the overseas market effectively and is credited with the concept and execution of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Kahn, also an attorney, is looking for an arena-related role.

Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.

© 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

Sacramento Bee Job listing powered by
Quick Job Search
Sacramento Bee Jobs »
Used Cars
Dealer and private-party ads


Price Range:
Search within:
miles of ZIP

Advanced Search | 1982 & Older