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Kings speak with Bird, Mullin, Dunleavy as GM search widens

UPDATED 5:12 p.m. ET

The Sacramento Kings' new ownership group has reached out to Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Chris Mullin as well as former NBA coach Mike Dunleavy about running the team's basketball operations, a search that is wide open, league sources told CBSSports.com on Monday.

In addition to exploratory conversations with Bird and Mullin, the Kings have formally interviewed Dunleavy, Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace and Warriors assistant GM Travis Schlenk for the job, sources said. The search is "very fluid" and is expected to expand beyond the current crop of candidates, one person familiar with the process said.

"It's wide open," another league source said. "It's not concrete on those guys."

The Kings introduced new head coach Michael Malone on Monday after the former Warriors assistant coach was hired prior to a new GM being in place to replace the ousted Geoff Petrie. During the transition, Petrie and members of the team's existing front-office staff oversaw the team's pre-draft workouts on Monday, along with Malone.

There is hesitation among some members of the Kings' hierarchy about two aspects of the search for a head of basketball operations as it stands now. League sources say there's a fear of the perception of installing too many transplants from the Warriors organization, and also a hesitation to begin the franchise's rebuild with a first-time head coach and first-time GM.

Warriors advisor Jerry West, perceived as assisting new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive in the GM search, told USA Today that notion was "ludicrous. ... In no way, shape or form am I advising him, period."

Ranadive is a former minority owner of the Warriors.

West, however, is extremely high on Schlenk and has recommended him for various GM openings. Schlenk worked his way through the ranks with the Warriors from assistant coach to scout to assistant GM under Larry Riley and Bob Myers and has developed into one of the league's most highly regarded young executives. Having never been a GM and coming from the Warriors organization are two factors stacked against him in the Kings' search, sources said.

When he was president of basketball operations in Memphis, West also worked with Wallace with the Grizzlies. Wallace played a key role in assembling the Grizzlies team that advanced to the Western Conference finals this season, but he has been marginalized in the revamped front office under new owner Robert Pera and has been granted permission to speak with other teams -- as has Memphis coach Lionel Hollins.

The bigger names mentioned in the Kings' search so far -- Bird, Mullin and Dunleavy, as well as Spurs GM R.C. Buford -- reflect a desire on the part of the ownership group led by Ranadive to have an experienced, recognizable leader at the top of the franchise's basketball operations. That role could take the form of the advisory role occupied by West with the Warriors or a team president who would then hire a day-to-day GM, league sources said.

Mullin, a Warriors great, is close friends with Mitch Richmond, who is a minority investor in the Kings.

Ranadive also is said to be focused in part on executives with a track record for success in small markets. In view of that, there also has been contact between the Ranadive group and former Pacers GM David Morway, who helped oversee the building of the Indiana team that has pushed the defending champion Heat to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.

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