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Royal Reading: The time Geoff Petrie almost selected Kobe Bryant

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The great Jerry Reynolds shared the tale as part of his incredible series.

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Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The great Jerry Reynolds is synonymous with the Sacramento Kings.

Reynolds was elevated to from assistant coach to head coach when Phil Johnson was fired during the 1986-87 season. He led the team to a 15-21 record down the stretch, but was ultimately fired after the regular season ended.

The franchise brought in basketball legend Bill Russell as the new coach going into 1987-88, which turned into a complete disaster. Sacramento let go of Russell after a 17-41 start and brought back Reynolds to lead the team as coach and general manager.

Reynolds went 41-93 before being relieved of his bench duties during the 1989-90 season, he stayed on as GM through 1993-94, before shifting into an adviser role under Geoff Petrie.

The Kings held the No. 14 pick going into the star-studded 1996 NBA Draft. Reynolds is sharing stories from his time with Sacramento and recalled how Petrie was focused on selecting a high schooler by the name of Kobe Bryant if he was available:

“Kobe’s camp told us that if he was drafted by the Kings, he wouldn’t sign. Arn Tellem — Bryant’s agent — said he wouldn’t sign with several teams in front of us either because he wanted to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Tellem had a relationship with Jerry West, who of course was running the Lakers at that time.

Regardless of the threats, Geoff was going to draft Kobe. If he ever wanted to play in the NBA, whoever drafts him would have his rights. Geoff was going to make the gutsy move — because of Kobe’s camp refusal to play in Sacramento — if he was there.”

Bryant and Tellem used this play on several teams, including the New Jersey Nets, who were coached by John Calipari at the time. The Charlotte Hornets took Bryant at No. 13 and he was ultimately traded to the hated Los Angeles Lakers for a package including yet-to-be King Vlade Divac.

Sacramento took Peja Stojakovic at No. 14, who went on to become an All-Star and was a key part of the most successful run in Kings’ history.

Reynolds credits Petrie for standing his ground against Tellem and not being bullied by the powerful agent, something a lot of GMs weren’t willing to do.

What are some of your favorite memories about Petrie?

Onto some more links:

With some states loosening social distancing rules, a few NBA teams are planning to reopen their practice facilities. One of those teams won’t be the Kings. The Sacramento Bee says the Golden 1 Center will be closed for at a few more weeks.

Luke Walton knows what it is like playing for a dynasty. The Kings head coach talked to The Athletic about his playings days and shared his thoughts on ESPN’s documentary, “The Last Dance.”

With the uncertainty surrounding when the NBA season will resume, fans and media members are starting to look at potential 2020 draft picks. The Sacramento Bee dives into how Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey will fit with the Kings.

From around the NBA:

Speaking of the draft, many teams, including the Kings, have used picks on future NBA busts over the past decade. Bleacher Report looks back at biggest whiffs, but they were nice enough not to include former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett.