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Rebuilding Kings lock up Petrie with 3-year extension

Posted Dec 29 2009 5:37PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Geoff Petrie will get another chance to turn the Sacramento Kings from a struggling franchise into a championship contender.

Petrie signed a three-year contract extension Tuesday to remain the team's president of basketball operations. Petrie's contract was set to expire after this season.

"There's hope for the future," co-owner Gavin Maloof said. "One day I certainly believe there will be multiple championships with this team the way they grow. I don't know if it will be next year or the year after but it will be in the future."

Petrie arrived in Sacramento in 1994 and built a team that won at least 50 games in five straight seasons, contending for the Western Conference title each year. The Kings struggled in recent years and finished with the worst record in the league a year ago.

But Petrie picked Tyreke Evans as part of a stellar draft class last June and hired Paul Westphal as coach. The team is off to a surprising 14-16 start, only three wins shy of last season's total.

"I'm still living a boyhood dream," Petrie said. "I happen to be in a group of people who think the opportunity to work at this level in the NBA is a real honor and a real privilege."

Petrie, who helped build two Western Conference championship teams in Portland, came to Sacramento in 1994. The Kings had made the playoffs only once in the previous nine seasons.

But Petrie began rebuilding the team, acquiring stars Chris Webber, Mike Bibby and Brad Miller in trades, drafting Peja Stojakovic, and signing key free agents Vlade Divac and Bobby Jackson.

The Kings went to the playoffs nine times since Petrie's arrival, making it all the way to the seventh game of the Western Conference finals in 2002 before losing to the Los Angeles.

But the team has dealt with hard times since winning at least 50 games every season from 2000-01 to 2004-05. The Kings won only 17 games last season, the worst mark in franchise history.

"I want to continue to renew this team and get it back to where it can compete again at a championship level," Petrie said. "We're moving in the right direction. I think everybody can see that."

Despite getting only the fourth pick in the draft, Petrie managed to make the picks that have helped fuel the turnaround. Evans is an early favorite for rookie of the year, averaging 20.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

Petrie used the 23rd overall pick on Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA. Casspi's adjustment has been rapid as he is averaging 11.8 points and 4.2 rebounds. Second-round pick Jon Brockman has provided great energy by averaging 4.1 rebounds despite playing only 10.8 minutes per game.

"Last year was a very trying year for all of us," Maloof said. "I think when you looked through the tunnel there wasn't really that much hope. Then when Geoff came up with this blockbuster draft and got Tyreke and Omri Casspi and then you get Brockman as a throw-in. The future is bright. It's a completely different climate, a completely different attitude."

The Kings are also getting good production from second-year player Jason Thompson, averaging 15.3 points and 9.2 rebounds, and third-year player Spencer Hawes. Sacramento recently used a starting lineup with five players age 23 or younger.

Petrie, a two-time All-Star as a player in Portland, was the NBA's Executive of the Year in 1999 and 2001.

The Kings also renewed the contracts and gave promotions to executives Wayne Cooper and Mike Petrie, Geoff's son. Cooper was promoted to vice president of basketball operations and general manager. Mike Petrie was promoted to assistant vice president of basketball operations.

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