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Geoff Petrie Blasts Vivek Ranadivé

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The former Kings GM did not take kindly to Ranadivé’s assertion that “nobody wanted to be here” when the new Kings owner took over the team.

Geoff Petrie

Just the other day, Vivek Ranadive had a lot to say about his early tenure as owner of the Sacramento Kings. Vivek talked about a lot of different things, such as the doomed relationship between Pete D’Alessandro and Michael Malone, but one of the nuggets in his comments were about the state of the franchise when he took over.

From Vivek’s interview with Sam Amick:

You have to keep it a little bit in perspective, Sam, because three years ago, it was (Chief Operating Officer) Matina (Kolokotronis) – she gave me the keys to Sleep Train (Arena). I’d never been here before. I walked in, and there was nobody who wanted to be here. There was no coach, no GM, it was a ghost town. (Author's note: in actuality, longtime basketball president Geoff Petrie, vice president Wayne Cooper and their front office staff stayed on through the transition to help with scouting and share intel, with Petrie even taking a three-day trip to Greece to scout Giannis Antetokounmpo leading into the draft; then-coach Keith Smart made it clear he wanted to stay, but was told early on that he would be replaced). Then I went into the arena, and literally the roof was falling down.

Look, you’ve got to hire the GM and then the coach. But I also went to some – and I don’t want to name them – but I went to some very smart people for advice, and they said, ‘Hey, Malone is great. We like Malone.’ Sam, that practice facility was empty. I had the draft was going to start, and players were going to come in for tryouts. There was nobody there. I needed somebody to go and actually work out the players. Nobody wanted to there. (incumbent general manager) Geoff (Petrie) didn’t want to be there. The coach (Keith Smart) didn’t want to be there. There was nobody there.

That’s a particularly harsh indictment of Petrie, Smart, and the rest of the staff remaining from the Maloof-era. Well, today, Petrie is firing back in a scathing interview with Deadspin’s Kevin Draper.

Deadspin: What did you think about Vivek’s interview with Sam Amick?

Geoff Petrie: Well, like I said in my email, I thought it was kind of a rambling attempt at revisionist history. A lot of what he said doesn’t really ... if you look back on the three-and-a-half years that he’s been the managing owner, it doesn’t really fit with a lot of the history. The main reason I reached out, [the interview] is long and covered a lot of territory, but when it comes to some of the representations about myself and Keith Smart and the management group that was there at that time, it was basically totally untrue, what was represented there.

What were you in the front office doing in May and June 2013, which I assume is the narrow timeframe we’re talking about here?

Leading up to the actual sale of the team, it was obvious the team was going to be sold. What became of the bidding match between the Ballmer group and ultimately Vivek’s group, through the league office, people were concerned about their jobs, what their future was going to be, what it would hold for them. And really, we had a group of people there that had been there, and we had worked together for a long time and were part of the best heritage that the Kings have ever had in Sacramento. I brought everybody together at different occasions and said, “Look, we’re going to be professional here, we’re going to continue to work like we’d work any other year, we’ll prepare for the draft like we would every other year, and ultimately we will assist any new people that may come in here and try and make them comfortable and get them situated.”

And that’s what we did.

There’s a lot more in this interview, including Petrie opening up a little bit about what went wrong with the Kings during his final years with the franchise, but Petrie mainly wants to fight back on Vivek’s assertion that he and his staff wanted out.

Petrie was a part of the Kings organization since 1994, winning the NBA’s Executive of the Year award twice for his work with the successful Kings teams of the early 2000s. A man you have to practically extract media presence out of, for Petrie to come out and say anything at all is eye-opening, especially since he has virtually become a recluse since retiring. Reading between the Ivy League-grade zingers, you can almost feel the personal umbrage Petrie took at Vivek’s characterization of the situation, especially when it comes to the people he was working with at the time. Even though he admits that he was probably moving on anyway, he didn’t appreciate the way it made his staff look.

I can sympathize with Vivek wanting to defend himself because of how much he was tarred and feathered in the media for those chaotic years, but it probably would have been best to let sleeping dogs lie and also to show a little bit of humility as well.

Regardless of what you think is right and who is telling the truth, this situation has devolved into an unfortunate sideshow and drama right as the team is preparing to open up the season. The franchise still doesn’t seem to know how to operate in any other way.