HECTOR AMEZCUA / hamezcua@sacbee.com

Former Indiana center Cody Zeller listens to instructions from Kings coach Michael Malone during his workout Thursday. The 7-foot, 230- pounder said he can play power forward and also is demonstrating that his shooting range extends to the three-point line during his workouts with NBA teams.

Memphis exec seems to be emerging as favorite for Kings' GM job

Published: Friday, Jun. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013 - 12:18 pm

Memphis general manager Chris Wallace was one of the first candidates interviewed about becoming the Kings' general manager and has been considered the favorite to land the job.

Though other names have surfaced, new owner Vivek Ranadive keeps going back to Wallace, interviewing him a third time Wednesday in the Bay Area.

Ranadive still plans to meet with San Antonio assistant general manager Scott Layden, and he also met with former Indiana GM David Morway last Friday in the search to replace Geoff Petrie, the Kings' longtime president of basketball operations.

Ranadive has said he won't rush the decision, and he's stayed true to that, considering numerous candidates.

"I speak with Vivek a couple times a day, and he's been very thorough, and he's going to take his time with this decision," coach Michael Malone said. "I think probably in the near future, he may have somebody. But one thing I've learned about Vivek, he's not going to make any rash decisions. He's going to take his time, and when he feels it in his gut that he has his guy, he'll make that decision."

Wallace's experience seemingly would appeal to Ranadive. After 10 years as GM in Boston, Wallace was hired by Memphis in 2007 to replace Jerry West, and it didn't take long for him to find success in the smaller market, one much like Sacramento's.

In 2008, Wallace traded All-Star big man Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers for players and draft picks. Wallace was criticized by the media and coaches. The deal shed Gasol's large salary, but the center-forward helped the Lakers reach the NBA Finals three consecutive seasons and win two titles.

The key to the deal wound up being the draft rights to Gasol's younger brother, Marc, who has become an All-Star and was named Defensive Player of the Year this season.

Wallace later traded for power forward Zach Randolph, who had issues on other teams but became an All-Star with the Grizzlies, and signed defensive-minded guard Tony Allen, even though he'd been dealing with injuries.

As Wallace did in Memphis, the person hired to oversee basketball operations for the Kings will need to be willing to take risks and must be smart with free-agent decisions.

Though Wallace is under contract, he was given permission to interview with the Kings after Jason Levien, the Grizzlies' new CEO and a former Kings assistant general manager, took over personnel decisions.

Levien traded popular forward Rudy Gay this season, but it was Wallace who made many of the moves that led to the Grizzlies' emergence as one of the best teams in the Western Conference in recent seasons.

If Wallace is hired by the Kings, getting a late start wouldn't be new to him, either. He took over in Memphis just before the 2007 NBA draft and selected guard Mike Conley, who has become a solid contributor.

Meanwhile, the Kings continue to hold predraft workouts, the latest with Indiana center Cody Zeller on Thursday. Zeller (7-foot, 230 pounds) averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds as a sophomore and is considered one of the more skilled and athletic big men available.

Zeller could play power forward in the NBA and is using workouts to show teams that his shooting range extends to the three-point line.

"I can mix it up," Zeller said. "I think I can cause a lot of mismatches for the defense."

The Kings have had only two coaches at the workouts – Malone and assistant Chris Jent – but Malone said he's "not going to rush" to fill the final two spots on his staff.

Malone's father, NBA coaching veteran Brendan Malone, is on the staff but not yet in Sacramento.

"He's champing at the bit. He keeps on asking me (about coming to Sacramento)," Michael Malone said. "I think my mother wants him out here as soon as possible to get him out of the house. He's doing a lot of work out there in New York right now, trying to be an asset, watching film. So I speak to him all the time, and he'll be out here at some point."

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.

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