HECTOR AMEZCUA / hamezcua@sacbee.com

Michael Malone shares a moment with one of his two young daughters following his introduction as the Kings' new head coach Monday.

New Kings coach wants to take his time building staff

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2013 - 7:03 pm

Michael Malone was dressed in Kings attire Monday for his first official duty as the 25th head coach in franchise history.

He stood watching a predraft workout next to Geoff Petrie, who was told he won't return as team basketball president when his contract expires June 30.

New ownership is actively pursuing Petrie's replacement.

Video: Watch the introduction of Michael Malone.

Keith Smart was fired as head coach, though his assistants conducted Monday's workout with Petrie's front-office staff.

It wasn't the most traditional way of conducting business, and new majority owner Vivek Ranadive conceded during Malone's introductory news conference at Sleep Train Arena that hiring a head coach before a general manager was unconventional.

The only definite member of Malone's staff is Brendan Malone, his father and a longtime NBA coach.

Michael Malone plans to meet with the coaches from Smart's staff today to see where they might fit going forward.

All of their contracts expire at the end of the month.

"I want to take my time with it and make sure I bring in the best staff that will complement me, that will challenge me and be loyal to the mission we have right now, which is trying to turn this Sacramento Kings team around," Malone said.

Malone spoke with Petrie before, during and after the workout to catch up on draft prospects. Petrie and his staff continue to scout and prepare for the draft.

Malone called Petrie a "valuable asset" because he has been studying the draft and has insight on the current roster.

As for the search for a new general manager, Ranadive plans to take his time. He jumped to hire Malone because he was "100 percent sure" Malone was the right coach.

The search for a new general manager is more deliberate.

"We're going to go through a process," Ranadive said. "We're in the middle of the process. We're not making any quick decisions on that. This is a very, very important position for us, and we want to make the right decision."

Ranadive has looked at veteran executives such as Memphis general manager Chris Wallace and Mike Dunleavy, most recently with the Los Angeles Clippers. Ranadive also interviewed an up-and-coming executive, Golden State assistant general manager Travis Schlenk.

Ranadive is exploring Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame players with executive backgrounds, including Larry Bird and Chris Mullin. That list could grow in the coming days.

Malone knows Kings guard Marcus Thornton from their time in New Orleans, before Thornton was traded to the Kings. Malone said he has contacted Thornton and guard Isaiah Thomas through text messages and plans to travel to meet with all the players.

"You think you have a feel (for players)," Malone said. "But there's nothing like getting under the hood and having a chance to work with a guy and meet with him and talk with him and get the truest sense before you make any decisions."

That includes center DeMarcus Cousins, who has been involved in trade rumors for three seasons largely because of run-ins with coaches, teammates and staff, and questions about his attitude.

"We all know on any given night he's the most talented big man in the NBA," Malone said. " … You just don't get rid of those guys. He could be and should be the cornerstone of this franchise for years to come. That's my hope."

Monday's six-player workout featured Rudy Gobert, a 7-foot-2 center from France who said his goal is to be the highest-drafted French player – among the top eight picks – in NBA history.

Chicago center Joakim Noah, who was drafted ninth overall in 2007, was born in the United States, but his father is French tennis legend Yannick Noah.

The Kings own the seventh pick in the first round.

Gobert hadn't spoken to Malone yet, but he already knew the message the coach would impart to the Kings.

"I know they're trying to change the feel of the team, and they're looking more for defensive guys," Gobert said. "That's good for me."

Malone insisted that the current Kings can play defense.

"There's only room for improvement when you're last in the league in almost every defensive category," Malone said. "So it's a matter of teaching, and I think that's what all good coaches are. Demanding it from them, holding them accountable, using film as a great teaching tool, there's no doubt that we'll improve with the current players or any new players that we add to the team."

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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