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Blazers' best bet for GM has been there before

by: ROCKY WIDNER Geoff Petrie left as Trail Blazers general manager in 1994 and forged a successful front-office career in Sacramento.

The man the Trail Blazers need to hire to run their basketball operations has sat in the chair before.

That's Geoff Petrie, Sacramento's senior vice president/operations the past 17 seasons.

Petrie, 63, filled the same role with Portland for four seasons - 1990-94 - after serving as vice president/business operations and radio analyst for the 1989-90 campaign.

During Petrie's reign, the Blazers finished with an NBA-best 63 regular-season wins (1990-91), reached the NBA finals (1991-92) and were the Los Angeles Lakers' greatest threat for Western Conference supremacy.

Petrie resigned with coach Rick Adelman's firing after the 1993-94, landing in Sacramento. Under his guidance, a once-pushover franchise made the playoffs nine times, advancing to the West finals in 2002 before losing to the Lakers in seven games. Petrie was twice named the NBA's executive of the year.

Sacramento fell on hard times in recent seasons, but Petrie has survived, earning a contract extension in 2009 that carries through the 2012-13 season.

Over the last two seasons, the Kings have drafted two of the league's best young players, guard Tyreke Evans and center DeMarcus Cousins. Evans earned rookie of the year honors in 2009-10 and Cousins was an all-rookie team choice this past season.

Petrie is regarded as one of the brightest minds in the game. The Princeton grad also has deep Portland roots. He was the Blazers' first draft choice, the NBA's co-rookie of the year for the 1970-71 season. His retired No. 45 banner hangs in the Rose Garden rafters.

Owner Paul Allen worked well with Petrie during his time with the Blazers and retains great respect for the man who was instrumental to the club's success in the early 1990s.

So, too, do many of those who worked with Petrie and/or know him well. Three employees in the Blazer organization told me in separate conversations Monday that Petrie would be a perfect fit to replace Rich Cho as general manager.

The Kings are in limbo, remaining in Sacramento after ownership's intended move to Anaheim was blocked by the league for at least one more season. It can't be a stable situation for Petrie and wife Anne-Marie, who both enjoyed their time in Portland.

There's no need for Allen's senior management group to take its time naming Cho's successor. The best candidate is 580 miles down the road in northern California.

Petrie knows the kind of support Allen provides as an owner. It's the perfect time for Petrie to get out ahead of the posse in Sacramento to finish out his career as an NBA executive where it began.