Geoff Petrie Rumors
You are in Sacramento and I know Geoff Petrie is still out here somewhere. Have you talked to him and is he going to be here for your big night? He’s the guy who found you and took the gamble on you when everyone thought he should have taken John Wallace. Have you talked to Geoff? Predraj Stojakovic: Actually we did. He called me this morning. Geoff played a big part in my career. I told him this morning that if it wasn’t for his persistence, I would never have come to the NBA. He was so convincing at that time that I should just believe in myself and that I was worth coming to the NBA. Obviously, he’s the one who believed in me and supported me when I needed him the most in my early career. We are definitely going to see each other, if not tomorrow at the game, for lunch or dinner, because we still have a great relationship. Geoff has been in my corner from day one.
That experiment barely lasted 20 months. Petrie had long run one of the most hush-hush organizations in the NBA, priding itself on its unanimity and discretion. But by the 2009 draft — just seven months after Levien was hired — a rift had developed between Petrie and Levien. Worse, from Petrie’s point of view, was that the rift had hit the media, with reports surfacing that Petrie did not want to draft star Spanish guard Ricky Rubio, while other factions in the Sacramento front office (i.e., Levien) did.
For the first time since the late 1980’s, Geoff Petrie isn’t doing everything in his power to improve the personnel side of an NBA club. And he’s getting along just fine. “I’m really enjoying other parts of my life that aren’t that much available when you have the jobs I’ve had the last 30 to 35 years,” says Petrie, whose contract with the Sacramento Kings was not renewed last June after 20 years as the club’s president/basketball operations. Such as? “I exercise more,” says Petrie, who lives with his wife of 22 years, Ann-Marie, in Loomis, Calif., 30 miles east of Sacramento on the way to Lake Tahoe. “I’ve been doing a lot of hiking, a lot of bike-riding — outdoor recreational stuff. I spend a lot of time with my dog. I’ve done some traveling.”
By the end of Petrie’s time in Sacramento, the on-court product turned from very good to very bad, with seven straight losing seasons and no playoff appearances while winning fewer than 30 games in each of the last five years. “We just didn’t have any (resources), really,” Petrie says. “Most of the trades we made were to make money, and we did a lot of that. We were still trying to do things in terms of talent, too, but the economics were always at at the forefront.” The club was sold in May 2013 to a group led by Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive for $535 million. A month later, Petrie was gone. “You’d like to write a storybook ending,” says Petrie, who turns 66 on April 17. “But life isn’t like that sometimes.”
An NBA executive who sat next to then-GM Geoff Petrie while they scouted Fredette sensed that Petrie, also a lottery pick and former long-range marksman, saw some of himself in Jimmer. “That, along with the desire to land the next great white American player and the millions that would be worth at the gate, is pretty powerful,” the executive said. “Foreign players just don’t connect to your fanbase in quite the same way.”
On Tuesday, Petrie ended his silence. In an interview with The Bee, the longtime executive wanted to make one thing clear – he’s happy for Sacramento and the efforts made by those to keep the team in town. “That’s where my heart was in the whole thing,” Petrie said. “In spite of being grateful to the Maloofs and working for them all those years, I had really strong feelings that the team needed to stay here. My hat’s off to those people.”