Will firing Geoff Petrie and remaking the Sacramento Kings roster solve everything? No. But it's critical that fans insist that this team is run like an actual basketball team, and not a dying enterprise.
Firing Geoff Petrie will not end Virginia Beach's bid for the Sacramento Kings. Firing Geoff Petrie will not result in a new arena in downtown Sacramento. Firing Geoff Petrie will not change George Maloof one bit. Firing Geoff Petrie will not even come close to ensuring any sort of future here for this team -- not whatsoever.
But this team is not existing as an actual basketball team. The infamous canard that Petrie is asleep at the wheel is only untrue in that it is figurative, not literal. Petrie actually consummates his fair share of trades -- the Kings tend to be among the more active teams at the deadline, in fact. But he's attempted to rebuild this team with minimum resources, financial and, frankly, intellectual. His great successes in Sacramento were marked by a willingness to look where others would not, to take chances others hesitated to. That's all gone. Outside of DeMarcus Cousins, who absolutely could not have fallen past No. 5 in 2010, Petrie has taken safe pick after safe pick since 2008. That's not necessarily bad, but it's not what Glory Era Petrie did. And to me, that pattern suggests that Petrie is unwilling or unable to do the work required to find the gems. Either way, that suggests he is figuratively asleep at the wheel.
The results speak for themselves. The league's second longest playoff drought, one that shows no signs of ending. No stockpile of draft picks -- in fact, we owe a protected pick out for a player who lasted half of a season in Sacramento. No All-Stars on the roster. No success with this core with two different coaches. Little if any lingering respect nationally. (Notice how the "Petrie to [city]" rumors disappeared abruptly?) The longest tenure among all GMs in the league. The second worst record in the league over the past five seasons. No plan. No hope for the roster. It all adds up to an job done awfully.
Even Grant Napear has recently turned his fire in the general direction of Petrie. I had the great fortune of catching a little bit of Grant's show on a drive Monday evening, and Napear was adamant that this was not a coach issue -- this is a player fit and player quality issue. He didn't call out Petrie and said the blame needed to be shared by everyone in the franchise, but the implication was pretty clear: the problem begins at the top. Not just of the franchise overall, but of basketball operations. Grant wouldn't have said anything close to this even a year ago. For someone who treads lightly and respects his relationships dearly, it was, frankly, a bit stunning to hear Grant say what he said. I tuned in fully expecting him to put it all on DeMarcus Cousins and the other players for underperforming. He didn't.
When Grant Napear is indicating that basketball ops is doing a bad job ... it's too obvious to ignore.
But again, it doesn't matter because it won't fix the core issue in Sacramento, which is the franchise's geographic future, right? Wrong. The basketball failure of this team is contributing mightily to the overall apathy surrounding the team. This isn't to say there wouldn't be apathy and anger were the team halfway respectable but still in this relocation quagmire -- there would be. Plenty. But the apathy is exacerbated by the overwhelmingly dismal state of Kings basketball, and the appearance that the franchise has no interest in turning around the narrative. It looks like Petrie's staff has given up. So we give up. It's a nasty action-reaction cycle that's actively making things worse.
The worst thing in the world for a sports team is that fans stop caring. Some advocates are giving up. That's the worst thing y'all could do right now. No, we can't derail George's grand plans on our own. No, we can't change the way the NBA works in one swoop. No, we can't fill up the building. But we can demand this team acts like a real damn team. Because it is a real damn team. And it's Sacramento's real damn team. It's our team. We need to care. We need to do what real damn fans do and CARE.
Apathy gets us more apathy. Throwing our hands up leads others to throw their hands up. We can't fix everything. But we can care about SACRAMENTO KINGS BASKETBALL, and we can be certain that the franchise hears the passion we all still have deep down in our guts.
I, for one, think Petrie needs to go. He's been doing a poor job for far too long, and it's time for a change. Lord, it's time for a change. I'm not going to let the fact that this team might not be here in 12 months stop me from thinking that, or saying that, or tweeting about it. This isn't about pretending relocation isn't looming. This isn't about ignoring the greater reality surrounding the team. This is about being fans of a team we have all invested huge parts of ourselves in. It's about not giving up.
You give up on Sacramento, you give up on our team ... you let George win. It's as simple as that. If he's going to file to relocate this team in a couple months, he hopes this is the quietest few months in Sacramento sports talk history. He wants you to talk about Kaepernick. He wants you to talk about Scutaro. He wants you to talk about Notre Dame. He wants you to talk about Bob Costas. His plans rely on us not caring.
I still care. I hope you can find a reason to care, too.