According to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, Kenny Smith has become a candidate for the Sacramento Kings' vacant general manager position. This comes after Geoff Petrie was informed that the Kings will not retain his services for the 2013-14 season.
The question is, can Smith actually work as the Kings' general manager?
Smith, 47, played in the NBA from 1987 to 1997, winning two titles as the point guard for the Houston Rockets. Prior to joining Houston, however, Smith was a consensus first-team All-American in 1987 and was drafted by the Kings later that year.
Per Amick's report, Smith believes he can carry his history of winning into the front office or onto the sidelines.
"We've been talking; we've been talking," Smith said. "That's all I'm going to say."
"I've been winning my whole life," Smith said. "I've been blessed to be a winner. So whatever happens, whatever I do, I'm going to win an Emmy next year or I'm going to try to win an NBA championship or I'm going to try to win in cards. I'm a winner. I'm a winner. I've been blessed in my whole life, so I think I have a clear vision."
Asked if he has been on the lookout for front office opportunities, Smith said, "Honestly, I've been looking at both — coaching, and a lot of things have been coming these last couple of years, and this time I've been taking it serious. My kids are at an age where I feel comfortable. And the other years, the kids were just too young. I didn't want to be in it. But I just started taking it serious."
No one will question how successful Smith has been—what we will question, however, is whether or not he's the right choice.
The Kings haven't made the playoffs since 2006, going through five coaches in seven seasons. In that time, they've had five top-10 draft choices and turned that into a decreasing level of success.
It's time to find a direction—can Smith be the man to bring them that?
Pro: Familiarity and Comfort
The Sacramento Kings have experienced a tumultuous past few seasons, as their future has been nothing short of uncertain. From rumors of their potential move to Seattle to the constant turnover with head coaches, the Kings have struggled to feel any form of comfort as a team and fanbase.
Kenny Smith would bring a sense of comfort and familiarity.
As previously alluded to, Smith was selected by the Kings during the 1987 NBA draft. Due to his familiarity with the organization, public perception of the franchise would be stronger as they bring in a presence that doesn't want the Kings to move.
As transcribed by Jonathan Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom, Smith had nothing but positive things to say about the city of Sacramento during an edition of Inside the NBA.
"When the Sacramento Kings, when I was there, we win 29-30 games – that was a successful season. And it would be packed from start to finish. You couldn’t get a seat. They used to sell tickets, scalp tickets outside (for) a team that couldn’t win .500 at the time."
That's the type of support this city has been longing for.
This may not be a basketball reason, but the fact that the organization is fully committed to building in Sacramento is a key. Whether that has an impact on basketball relations is debatable, but this organization needs a direction.
Proving its commitment to the city is a great start.
Con: Lack of Experience
If there's one thing that we know about the Sacramento Kings, it's that they've lacked a direction over the past seven seasons. From the absence of a floor general to the inconsistencies in coaching and the heavy reliance upon isolation basketball, the Kings have been unable to maximize intriguing upside.
The question is, can an inexperienced general manager actually bring it all together?
This is no slight on Kenny Smith, as he's an intelligent basketball mind that has experienced success throughout his career as a player and TV personality. What he hasn't done, however, is run a team and help it turn its franchise around.
Everyone must start somewhere, but let's be real—can the Kings afford to waste any more time?
They have a star worth building around in DeMarcus Cousins, also possessing the rights to Tyreke Evans this summer. Unfortunately, their loads of lottery picks have resulted in little other development.
The most ideal fit appears to be a general manager with experience.
Key Factor: Building Around a Center
If there's one thing that the Sacramento Kings have going for them, it's the presence of an elite center in DeMarcus Cousins. While questions may be present about his attitude, there is no question that he has the ability.
Who better to build a team around DMC than the point guard who played right-hand man to Hakeem Olajuwon?
Cousins may not be "The Dream," but he's one of the most dynamic big men in the NBA today. What the Kings lack, however, are the complementary pieces to allow DMC to carry them back into the postseason.
Smith certainly knows what it takes to build around a center—so why not grant him the opportunity to do so?
There may be other options, specifically those with experience, but Smith is not just a big name garnering attention. Instead, he's a former player with a history of winning games as a player and floor general.
Perhaps a fresh start is what Sacramento needs after all.