HANG TIME WEST – At least he’ll get big money. That is what Tyreke Evans stares at — $44 million over four years from the Pelicans in a sign-and-trade involving the Kings and Trail Blazers that will become official July 10.
This settles nothing, though. Evans has a running start at lifetime financial security, but no clear path to a career fulfilled in a destination he chose. He needed solid ground after three years of constant shifting in position and importance in Sacramento. Instead, he got overpaid to become more marginalized than before.
It wouldn’t have been just a Pelicans thing either. If Sacramento had matched, the Kings had already hit Draft-night jackpots by having Ben McLemore – shooting guard Ben McLemore – fall in their lap. So wanting the money and the chance at a new start somewhere else is understandable. (On the other hand, Evans could have had a new start by standing still. This isn’t the same Sacramento organization he grew up with.)
By going to New Orleans in a three-team trade that also sends Greivis Vasquez to Sacramento and Robin Lopez to Portland, Evans will be on the same team, and possibly in the same backcourt, as All-Star Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. If the Pelicans see him at small forward, Evans is still trying to fit in an offense that also includes Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, while they’re still working to find room for Austin Rivers.
The Pelicans also need to find help inside after trading their only true center, Lopez. While Davis may be able to play there some day, he’s still at about 220 pounds and team officials are not anxious to have him turned into an accordion. That leaves Jason Smith as the best center option.
Evans’ first season, 2009-10, was dynamic — Rookie of the Year, 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 boards and signs he could become a good defender. Then it became apparent he would not develop the distributing skills to become a permanent point guard. Defenses, predictably, took away the lanes to the basket. He went from that very promising start to three consecutive seasons of a decline in shots and average minutes.
His promise earned him a salary of $11 million annually. But his future is still yet to be determined.