For all the rumors floating around, the first few days of free agency have been relatively quiet. However, the New Orleans Pelicans made one of the more interesting moves to date by offering guard Tyreke Evans a four-year, $44 million offer sheet.
Evans got off to a quick start, winning Rookie of the Year during his first year with the Sacramento Kings. The last three seasons, though, saw Evans slowly decline and his production slip. With a new coach, Mike Malone, and new management, Pete D’Alessandro as general manager, it was thought that Evans’ days as a King were numbered. In last week’s draft, they selected Ben McLemore, who happens to play the same position as Evans.
With Evans’ departure looking imminent — though as a restricted free agent, the Kings have the right to match the offer sheet… and they are considering it should Evans sign — it’s time to take a look at the potential impact this could have on the newly-christened Pelicans. As of now, the Pelicans have guards Jrue Holiday, Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers on their roster. Bringing in Evans would cause a logjam in the backcourt, but with training camp still months away, it gives Dell Demps and company time to make moves.
In New Orleans, Evans would help immensely in one area: bench scoring. With Holiday and Gordon on the roster, it’s unlikely Evans would start. He did spend time at the small forward position for the Kings over the last two seasons, but isn’t interested in that spot going forward. If the Pelicans can convince Evans to adopt a new role, he could become a key piece to a playoff team. Make him the sixth man.
Evan’s best season in the league came when Sacramento gave him the ball and let him run the show. If he comes off the bench, the Pelicans can hand him the keys to the offense for 10-15 minutes a game and let him revert back to ROY Tyreke, the one that made him only the fourth rookie besides Oscar Robertson, LeBron James and Michael Jordan to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds a game. While the reported four-year $44 million offer sheet jumps out as a lot to pay someone who will play no more than 30 minutes a night, I’m sure Sam Presti, James Harden and the Thunder can teach you a thing or two about that. Sixth men are important, and Evans would immediately become one of the best in the NBA.
Though last season saw Evans average the lowest points, assists and rebounds totals in his four years, he still managed to post a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 18.2. In comparison, that would rank him tied for third on the Pelicans roster from last year. Only Anthony Davis and Robin Lopez had higher PERs. Evans also played only 31 minutes per game last year, a number he would likely duplicate on the Pelicans as a sixth man. His averages of 15.2 points, 3.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game would be a welcomed addition in New Orleans. Last season, Jason Smith was the highest scorer off the bench with 8.2 points a night. Also Evans would’ve ranked second in assists on the team and first in steals had he played with New Orleans last year.
‘Reke is one of the more talented and versatile players in the NBA today, and though his offense is often championed more than any part of the game, his defensive play has been better than expected. His ability to create turnovers and disrupt offenses with steals is documented, and the advance stats show he has an average Defensive Rating (DRtg) of 110; DRtg is a stat that estimates the amount of points allowed by a player per 100 possessions. Arron Afflalo, a renowned defender in his own right, has a career DRtg of 111.
Evans is a player in serious need of a change of scenery. What better place to rebuild than a team that is going through it’s own re-branding? The Pelicans offer ‘Reke a chance to start over and once again show the world the talent that once had fans in Sacramento excited for the future. If he can accept this new role and the Pelicans make a trade to get rid of Vasquez or Rivers this offseason, Evans may have found the perfect spot to become a star once again.
Should the Kings bring Evans back or let him go?
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