NBA Trades and Drafts: 10 Best Moves by Geoff Petrie in Sacramento Kings History
These days, it’s easy for anyone associated with the Sacramento Kings to get a bad rap.
But amidst all the muck and mire, all the internal (and external) drama and bad decisions, one man’s reputation has remained unscathed: GM Geoff Petrie.
And although it has been quite a while since the days when Petrie routinely (and mercilessly) robbed teams of top draft picks and quality utility players, in recent years he has continued to do what he does best: turn chicken crap into chicken salad.
Most impressively, he has done so with his hands (and checkbook) tied behind his back.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 Petrie steals of all time, a Sacramento-era greatest hits of swindling and piracy if you will.
Note: This list includes only the Petrie moves involving players. Coaches, assistants and other personnel decisions were not counted, although hiring Rick Adelman would clearly rank near the top if they were.
10. Carl Landry Traded for Marcus Thornton
Classic Petrie trade. A move that makes you say “meh” at the time, and then turns out to be a huge steal.
Carl Landry underperformed during his time in Sacramento, and had made no secrets about wanting off of the team. In what seemed like a straight player dump at the time, Petrie traded Landry to the New Orleans Hornets for Marcus Thornton.
Thornton gave the Kings much-needed depth and scoring punch during Tyreke Evans injury-riddled sophomore season. He surprised everyone with his effectiveness, and will now be in line for a significant salary bump based on his strong play in 2010.
9. Jim Jackson: Basketball Zombie
People look back on the Kings glory days, and they remember the stars. Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac.
However what truly separated the Kings from the rest of the Western Conference pack was the bench mob. Scot Pollard. Bobby Jackson. Jon Barry. And for a little while, Jim Jackson.
Jim Jackson was a reclamation project, a former top draft pick who had, for a variety of reasons, become a journeyman NBA player with talent to spare. In 2002, Petrie signed Jackson as a free agent. Although the stat sheet will say that Jimmy Jack averaged less than eight points per game that year, his contribution to a very good Kings team was much greater.
Jackson brought depth, toughness and size to the Kings bench, and although he undoubtedly had better seasons as a pro, he played a vital role for the team during his lone campaign in Sacramento.
Not bad for a free agent signed off the scrap heap.
8. Omri Casspi Traded for JJ Hickson
The latest example of the Petrie magic is the Kings recent addition of promising young forward JJ Hickson, a prospect labeled nearly untouchable by the Cleveland Cavaliers as recently as 2010, when they refused to part with him in a deal that would have included Amar’e Stoudemire.
Seventeen months later, Hickson is a King, and all Petrie gave up to get him was the inconsistent and slight-of-build Omri Casspi, who had followed a promising rookie season with a stink bomb of a sophomore effort.
Hickson immediately brings much-needed frontcourt depth, youth, energy and athleticism to the Kings, and should fit in nicely with DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson.
On the negative side, Kings fans will no longer get to hear an excited Grant Napear yelling nonsensical catchphrases like "Bombri!! On a Cas-spree!". Which is really a huge loss for the NBA in general.
7. Corliss Williamson Traded for Doug Christie
Ahh, Corliss Williamson, the Billy Martin to Geoff Petrie’s George Steinbrenner.
Williamson’s entire career was characterized by trips to and from Sacramento. He has helped the team both on the court and in the trade market. He has also been involved in some of the biggest and most important deals in Sacramento history, and will be remembered fondly by fans even though his greatest contribution has been as a trade chip.
At the end of the 2000 season, Petrie traded Williamson to the Toronto Raptors for defensive-minded swingman Doug Christie. Christie would become one of the NBA’s best man defenders, and played the passing lanes as well as anyone in team history.
He also punched Rick Fox in the face, and for that alone will live on forever in the hearts and minds of Kings fans.
6. Bobby Jackson, Greg Ostertag Traded for Bonzi Wells
Boom! Double Bonus!
Having Bonzi Wells replace the always-unwatchable Greg Ostertag and a last-legs version of Bobby Jackson was the rare deal that combined addition by subtraction with addition by actual addition.
Wells will generally be remembered in the NBA (if he’s remembered at all) as a clown, a malcontent, a bad character guy who never capitalized on his considerable talent.
But for one glorious year in Sacramento, Wells played with little fanfare and fewer expectations, and was effective enough to help bring Sacramento to the playoffs. Like many problem children of the NBA before him, Wells found new life in Sacramento, and almost parlayed it into a huge contract.
Wells resurrected his career enough to earn a $38.5 million contract offer from the Kings, which was inexplicably turned down by Wells and his agent, who drastically overestimated Bonzi’s value in one of the worst negotiating decisions in NBA (and possibly human) history.
Bad decisions aside, the fact that the usually-financially-prudent Geoff Petrie even offered such a contract to a head case like Wells truly speaks to how well Bonzi played during the 2005 season, and how valuable he was to the team.
5. Kevin Martin: Draft Steal (26th Overall Pick)
Geoff Petrie has always drafted well, but Kevin Martin is undoubtedly his crown jewel of draft day steals.
Martin is the all-time scoring leader in NCAA Division II history, but was generally regarded by scouts as too slim, too soft and too one-dimensional to succeed in the NBA.
And all that was true…you know, if you don’t count things like scoring and offensive efficiency.
Since being drafted by the Geoff Petrie, Martin has consistently been one of the league’s most proficient shooters and was a legitimate star for the Kings from 2006 to 2009.
4. Hedo Turkoglu Traded for Brad Miller
Remember the days when Brad Miller was good? No? Well they happened. I’m pretty sure.
Maybe time has clouded my memory of Miller’s early days in Sacramento, but I remember a time when he seemed to be a perfect fit for the Kings, a nightly threat to (almost) record triple doubles.
No one will ever label Miller a great player, and it is likely that ultimately his time in Sacramento will not be remembered as fondly as it should. But when he was acquired, he was an ideal high-post complement to Chris Webber’s low-post game.
Miller eased the Kings’ transition away from Vlade Divac. During his prime in Sacramento, his passing ability was second to none among NBA big men, and although he may have tarnished his Kings legacy with excessive whining and annoying facial expressions during his latter days with the team, acquiring him was an amazing steal nonetheless.
3. Peja Stojakovic Traded for Ron Artest
Part of the genius of Geoff Petrie is that he knows when to cut the cord.
For seven years in Sacramento, Peja Stojakovic was Petrie’s boy. He had been scouted by Petrie as a teenager in Serbia, had been drafted by Petrie in the first round of the 1996 draft, and had helped usher in a new era of European NBA players with his just-below-All-Star-level play.
But in 2005, Peja was declining. His game had been hampered by injuries and he had gained a (deserved) rap as a soft shooter who shrunk in big moments. But he still had trade value. It was not only time to sell high on Peja, but to buy low on one of the NBA’s most mercurial talents.
Before the melee at Auburn Hills, Ron Artest was considered one of the league’s best young players—he was a two-way force to be reckoned with, but was also a notoriously volatile young man.
Petrie saw Ron-Ron’s potential, knew that Peja had enough value left to net him a greater talent, and acted swiftly. Stojakovic was never the same player he had been in Sacramento, and Artest continued to grow, mature and improve with the Kings, leading them to the playoffs in 2005.
2. Jason Williams Traded for Mike Bibby
Trading White Chocolate couldn’t have been easy for Petrie. He was the most exciting, promising young player Sacramento had seen in years. He had a flair for the dramatic, and the ability to improvise jaw dropping passes seemingly out of thin air, to the delight of Kings fans.
Of course, he also had a penchant for horribly timed transition threes and large quantities of turnovers, but that’s neither here nor there.
While Kings nation, and most of the country, saw Williams as one of the league’s brightest up-and-coming stars, Petrie saw him for what he really was: a fundamentally unsound point guard on a team desperately in need of some stability at the position.
Petrie traded J-Will to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Mike Bibby in 2001, and saw immediate success as a result. Bibby became the floor leader the team desperately needed, and was a mainstay on Kings’ rosters during their most successful years.
1. Mitch Richmond, Otis Thorpe Traded for Chris Webber
Here it is; the steal of all steals, the signature move of the Kings’ franchise, the trade that ushered in a new era of Sacramento basketball.
Chris Webber didn’t want to play in Sacramento when Geoff Petrie gave up franchise mainstay Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe to get him. Petrie didn’t care.
He saw the rare talent that Webber possessed, that he was one of the few players in the league capable of turning a franchise around by himself, and decided to gamble.
And as he almost always seems to do when he gambles, Petrie came out on top. The rest, as they say, is history.