Pete D'Alessandro isn't the successor to Bill Clinton, Bill Belichick or the great Gregg Popovich. But two decades are two decades. Geoff Petrie presided during the best of times and the worst of times. He fit the Kings' front office like a slipper, until finally, like most NBA executives, he stubbed his toe and wore out his welcome.
So here comes D'Alessandro, storming into Sacramento to change the climate and start scribbling on the blank slate. He is young (45) and dynamic and energetic. He is bright and personable and eclectic. He has been an attorney, a political campaign manager, a player agent and a respected salary cap/legal expert with the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets.
Can he pick talent?
Can he assemble a cohesive team?
Can he hire the right staff?
D'Alessandro answered to Chris Mullin in Oakland and Masai Ujiri in Denver. As an assistant general manager, he influenced the signings of Warriors Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis, along with the trades that rid the Warriors of Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy. More recently, he facilitated the massive swap that sent the Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks.
But this is his first show, his first opportunity to establish an identity. His and his new team's. What does he do with Tyreke Evans? How does he approach DeMarcus Cousins? How many contracts does he shed for the sake of improving the attitudes and the atmosphere? How does he structure his front office?
At the very least, D'Alessandro can take a test. He aced the demanding, detailed exam that Kings owner Vivek Ranadive distributed to a list of GM candidates that stretched well into the double digits.
"This has been a long and exhaustive process," Ranadive said Monday, his eyes red-rimmed with fatigue. "When I evaluate people to join my team, I ask three questions: Who is the smartest person in the room? Who is the hungriest? And who is the most passionate? In the final analysis, there was one name above all others, and that was Pete."
The new Kings owner? Pretty straight shooter. On Monday, he readily acknowledged the risks inherent in combining a rookie majority owner with a rookie head coach and a rookie top executive. Initially, he said, his plan was to hire an experienced general manager.
Never happened. Never was meant to be. For all his offerings about digitizing and analytics and new age this and that and D'Alessandro certainly answers yes, yes and yes Ranadive is not unlike most of his NBA peers. He wanted to be stirred, wanted to be wowed, wanted to feel an almost intuitive connection with his new general manager.
The fact that D'Alessandro knows how to take an exam? That was a huge plus.
Before scheduling the interviews, Ranadive asked each of the candidates to analyze the Kings' roster and, among other things, provide short- and long-term plans and examples of linear and non-linear thinking. He wanted names, dates, times, places. His vetting process required everything but an IQ test.
"I had just finished preparing for my first interview," D'Alessandro said later in the afternoon, "and I got this email from Vivek. I was thinking, 'Wow, I think I need to do a lot more.' I proofed everything on the flight over, and then when I landed, I went to a Kinko's in Palo Alto and made copies. I pulled an all-nighter. I felt like I was back in law school."
A native New Yorker, D'Alessandro, who wears wire-rimmed glasses and jokes about being prematurely bald, in fact resembles a torts professor. He speaks in rapid-fire bursts and gestures constantly with his hands. At times during his introductory session, he appeared almost overwhelmed, much to the bemusement of coach Michael Malone and Ranadive, seated at his side on the podium.
"How many chances do you get?" said D'Alessandro, who was joined at the news conference by his parents, wife and two young children. "I had a real opportunity in Denver, but to make your own move? To me, this was it."
Family: Wife, Leah; children, Kate, 3, Benjamin, 1
Education: St. John's (undergraduate); Nova Southeastern University School of Law
Video coordinator, St. John's, 1986-90
Campaign manager for New York Rep. Rick Lazio's re-election, 1994-96
Player agent, 1997-2004
Director of basketball operations with the Golden State Warriors (2004-06); assistant general manager (2006-08)
Joined the Denver Nuggets in 2010 as an adviser to general manager Masai Ujiri; served as vice president of basketball operations for the 2012-13 season.
Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.