With the Sacramento Kings continuing their general manager search, a most-unexpected candidate has been revealed: Kenny Smith.
The former Kings player and TNT commentator told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday night that he has been in discussions with new owner Vivek Ranadive. Longtime general manager after his contract expires later this month, and Smith is clearly hoping to be part of the new regime.
“We’ve been talking; we’ve been talking,” Smith said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
Ranadive has been looking to have a two-tier structure of sorts, with a widely known name at the top joining forces with a respected executive in the front office. He is known to have had recent discussion with former Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird, and fellow candidates Chris Wallace (former Memphis Grizzlies general manager), Travis Schlenk (Golden State Warriors assistant general manager), Mike Dunleavy (longtime coach and executive) and David Morway (former Pacers general manager) .The Kings have also , the vice president of basketball operations for the Nuggets.
But Smith wasn’t afraid to campaign for his own cause, admitting that he’s looking for his next challenge after becoming one of the most prominent and entertaining voices in the basketball world.
“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.”
Smith was selected sixth overall by the Kings in the 1987 draft out of North Carolina, then played his first two-plus seasons there before he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. He won two championships with the Houston Rockets (1994, 1995), and averaged 12.8 points and 5.5 assists per game in his 10-year career.
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.”
Time will tell whether the new Kings owner is taking Smith seriously as an option to run his new team.