After four years in the league, one Rookie of the Year award, two coaches, no playoff appearances and constant rumors of ownership changes and relocation, Tyreke Evans wanted some certainty and stability.
When July 1 came and teams had the chance to talk to the new restricted free agent, the first team that called and showed interest was the newly renamed New Orleans Pelicans. Sam Amick reported that Evans and the Pelicans had an “in-person meeting” the minute free agency began. After talking things over with his agent in Los Angeles, Evans realized that he didn’t want to go through more changes in Sacramento.
In an exclusive, one-on-one interview with Sheridan Hoops, Evans said that “it was either go through all that change again or pick a new situation that was more consistent.” That new and consistent beginning will take place in the Big Easy.
So Evans signed a four-year offer sheet worth $44 million with the Pelicans, ultimately going to New Orleans in a three-team sign-and-trade deal, to move to a city he says he likes with a new team name, a new point guard in Jrue Holiday and talented teammates including Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson.
It also didn’t help that the offer made by Kings brass “was not the same contract” as the one he ultimately accepted from the Pelicans. “Not even close, I don’t think,” Evans said. What he got from New Orleans was “definitely a significant upgrade from what the Kings offered.”
The amount the Kings offered Evans would not be disclosed due to confidentiality issues with the negotiation, but a source told Sheridan Hoops that it was well, well short of what New Orleans was willing to give him.
Despite his departure from California’s capital, Evans said that his tenure with the franchise “went pretty well. I had a great time from my rookie year. The fans were always supportive, but the most fun I had was playing with my teammates.”
The one Sacramento teammate that ultimately took precedence over Evans in the pecking order was DeMarcus Cousins. New management clearly wanted to make Cousins the cornerstone of its future plans ahead of Evans, which is another of the main reasons why the 6’6″ wing is no longer with the team.
But Evans didn’t dwell on that during his phone conversation with Sheridan Hoops, because he has a good relationship with Cousins and has no intentions of changing that. “We’ve known each other going back a long time to AAU,” Evans said. “We talk a lot, it was just his birthday.”
While talking about the Kings franchise, Evans’ exasperation with the state of the franchise was palpable. “We both tried to be leaders and win a lot of games, but we were frustrated with about the coaching and team situation.” Evans reiterated that his main focus was on basketball and not the fluid ownership situation and potential relocation to Seattle, but it had an impact on the morale of a team as whole.
Despite the turmoil, Evans’ contract year went pretty well for him statistically. He posted his best numbers since his award-winning rookie season of 2009-2010 and registered several career-best numbers.
|Evans||Min||FG %||3 FG %||Pts||Ast||Reb||PER||TS %||EFG %||O Rtg||D Rtg||WS||WS/48|
Evans’ minutes and scoring went down, but his shooting numbers and efficiency numbers were career bests. He shot the ball way better from three, and it showed in his offensive rating and Win Shares per 48 minutes. He’s always graded out as a poor defender, though, with the Kings allowing the most points per game (105.1) for the second straight season.
All that is in the past for Evans now. He and Eric Gordon, his new star New Orleans teammate, met for dinner over the summer and talked about their time in the NBA, “how we’re going to get better and the pieces we have in place.”
It was an exciting offseason for Louisiana’s basketball franchise. They have a new nickname, new team colors and two new starters in Evans and Holiday. With Holiday and Gordon pretty well entrenched as the pieces in place in the backcourt, that leaves Evans in an interesting position.
Either be a starter at small forward, where he played a bit with Sacramento last season, or be New Orleans’ $44 million 6th man.