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 SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -The gloomy cloud over last season's Sacramento Kings began to lift last week when Reggie Theus took over on the bench.
The future should get even brighter Thursday, when the Kings have the 10th pick in the draft - their highest slot since 1998.
It's the best chance in years for top executives Geoff Petrie and Wayne Cooper to show off the talent-scouting acumen that discovered Peja Stojakovic, Jason Williams, Hedo Turkoglu, Gerald Wallace and Kevin Martin over the last decade.
But just how will Petrie use those skills? The Kings are known to be active in trade talks that could include the No. 10 pick as part of a package for veteran players, and there's also a chance Sacramento could move up to get one of this outstanding draft class' biggest names.
The only certainty is that Petrie won't tip his hand. Though he seemed pleased about the Kings' future last week while announcing Theus' hiring, his plans beyond the surprising new coach are a mystery.
``We're going to explore every avenue that we could use to make this team better,'' Petrie said. ``We'll check out everything and make a good decision.''
With a wholesale roster overhaul seemingly imminent, the Kings need good, young players at almost every position. Though Petrie and the Maloof brothers haven't explicitly said so publicly, Sacramento seems ready to rebuild after failing to get one more postseason run out of Ron Artest and the remnants of eight straight playoff teams under coach Rick Adelman.
Perhaps the only guarantee is that the Kings won't take another shooting guard or swingman after using their last three first-round picks on emerging star Martin, Francisco Garcia and Quincy Douby.
The Kings seem more likely to go big, and there are several talented, mobile forwards who could fit Theus' plans for an uptempo attack. Sacramento desperately needs a good rebounder after finishing 30th in the NBA in the category last season.
Most of Sacramento's probable choices are well known by basketball fans - not always the case in Petrie's previous drafts. He was booed for choosing Stojakovic 1996, and picked Williams higher than many expected him to go 1998. Few fans had ever heard of Martin, a skinny guard from Western Carolina, before Petrie picked him in 2004.
Florida's Joakim Noah is well known to college hoops fans after the Gators' back-to-back national championships. His lanky game would have fit in well with the Kings' speedy playoff teams under Adelman, and he seems a good fit for Theus as well.
Washington center Spencer Hawes would be a project that might not fit Theus' attack, but Pac-10 fans saw his brute skills last season. The prospects for China's Yi Jianlian have been difficult for most casual observers to assess, though Petrie has analyzed the graceful big man of uncertain age and durability.
North Carolina's Brandan Wright also could fall to the Kings, though he's another raw project who could turn out to be a dominant power forward - or the next in a line of Tar Heels big men who have been underwhelming in the NBA.
If the right big man isn't available, Kansas sophomore Julian Wright has been scouted by the Kings, and his offensive creativity isn't matched by many players. A 6-foot-8 forward with a point guard's dribbling skills and a strong rebounding instinct, he could be a contributor to almost any lottery team.
Florida State's Al Thornton also could be a good fit, with four years of college experience and a polished offensive game that will make an immediate NBA impact as a small forward.
M's Acie Law IV are available, Petrie might decide to begin his rebuilding plan from the bottom up.
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