30Q: Is Geoff Petrie Safe?

Geoff Petrie had a rough 2011. He was handcuffed by the poorest owners in the NBA. He had a coach who demanded veteran presence and didn't get along with the team's cornerstone prospect. These factors and a stroke of terrible judgment led to the magnificent disaster that was the Jimmer Fredette-John Salmons Incident. Days later, on the cusp of the lockout and knowing that the aforementioned coach had a bad beat with the disappointing Israeli star, Petrie swapped Omri Casspi for J.J. Hickson ... using a conditional first round pick as a sweetener.


Despite that, Petrie made a good decision to hire Keith Smart ahead of the 2011-12 season as an assistant, and quickly throw Paul Westphal into the fire after enabling a conflagration to transform into a full-fledged inferno of anger promote Smart early in the season. Despite the troubles, those famously trustworthy Maloofs committed to Petrie "forever" and let him stay through the draft (an important one) and free agency (theoretically important; in practice, somewhat irrelevantish). All of this happened while the team was seemingly on the verge of the city where Petrie built his life for the past decade and a half.

So, what next?

Predicting the Maloofs' next move is fools' work. They are frontrunners through and through. If the Kings improve, Petrie will be safe. If he convinces the world that it's all someone else's fauly, he'll be safe. If Thomas Robinson works out, he'll be safe. (Even if T-Rob makes the contracts to Chuck Hayes and Jason Thompson -- signed by Petrie -- look bad.) And remember: the Maloofs have more important things to worry about than improvement.

I believe there's a morsel of truth in the idea that retaining Petrie making the Maloofs feel like they really do honor loyalty. Like Sacramentans will respect them so long as they show loyalty to the man who built the Kings' last great team. I'm not sure that's actually true -- I think there are plenty like me who think Petrie has been due a ... uh, an early release. But it's a fair question: would fans be angry, by and large, if the Maloofs canned Petrie? It's a fair question.

Regardless, in my view, only a historic failure this season (something I see as unlikely) or a franchise sale will cost Petrie his job this season. If he survived 2011, it'll take something truly outstanding to fell him now.

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