Tyreke Evans benched in Pelicans loss, admits lack of communication with head coach

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EvansIn a season that’s been a struggle for both the New Orleans Pelicans and its high-priced import Tyreke Evans, it seems like there’s a growing rift between player, coach and team.

Evans did not play in Sunday night’s 93-81 loss to Brooklyn despite head coach Monty Williams playing 11 Pelicans players in the game. When asked why Evans didn’t play, Williams said “it’s just internal right now.”

Evans and the New Orleans public relations staff declined to comment on the matter after the game, deferring to the head coach and saying that Williams “had said it all before.” Williams could have said he was hurt or he was resting, but the unique language of the explanation could imply that there’s something more going on.

It’s no secret that Evans has struggled in acclimating to the Pelicans after coming over in a sign-and-trade with Sacramento that netted Evans a four-year contract worth $44 million. He told Sheridan Hoops before the season in a wide-ranging interview that he would be comfortable coming off the bench, not playing the point guard position and he’d do whatever it took to help New Orleans win.

Now as we approach the All-Star break, Evans appeared frustrating with his injuries, “fluctuating” playing time and his communication with Williams.

“He’s trying to figure me out still,” Evans said of his head coach before the game. “Most of the guys that came here are pretty much new [to the team] so he’s trying to fit everybody in and put me in the best position he can.”

But when asked whether he and Williams ever discussed his best role on the team openly, Evans said it’s never been brought up.

NOH_Williams_Monty“No, we never talked about that,” Evans told Sheridan Hoops. “I haven’t talked to him about it. We talk here and there but I haven’t talked to him about what role is whose on the team.”

Asked if the communication with Williams has to improve, Evans said that it needed to improve. “It has to get better. We have to know our roles on the team.”

It seems like Evans is overloaded with responsibilities for the Pelicans coming off the bench, and it’s impacting his play on the court.

“I have more roles than the team I was on before so it’s tough trying to adjust to all those spots,” he said. “The system is different but it’s not anything I can’t get through.”

Evans said he’s felt rushed on the court, trying to do so many different things to help his teammates while he’s out there on the floor.

“Sometimes I think I feel like I have to do too much instead of playing my game and letting it come to me,” he said. And that’s a direct byproduct of trying to keep his playing time up.

“When I’m out there, I just have to try to perform so I can keep my minutes up,” Evans said. “And then it gets bad on me because I’m trying to rush things. When I let the game come to me, that’s how I always play and I create that way. ”

And all that rushing is affecting his shot. Take a look at how far he’s fallen in shooting the ball since he came to the Pelicans.

Evans Minutes FG % 3 FG % Points Reb Assists PER e FG % O Rating D Rating Win Shares/48
2012-2013 31 47.8 33.8 15.2 4.4 3.5 18.1 50.8 110 111 0.105
2013-2014 24.5 40.1 15.2 12.4 4.3 4.1 17.3 40.9 101 108 0.063

 

His minutes are down since he’s not starting. His field goal percentage is down more than 7.5 percent and his 3-point shooting has cratered to an incredibly woeful 15.2 percent. His rebound and assist numbers are good as he tried to help his teammates, but his efficiency and points per 100 possessions, as well as his per-minute win shares, have plummeted.

Being rushed is affecting how he shoots. “I’m anxious to help my team get points on the board,” Evans said. “But it can’t just be about scoring, it’s gotta be about passing and trying to figure out what I can do to help this team win.”

Evans’ per-36-minute numbers are actually better this year in the major statistical categories, but that’s become moot because his playing time with the Pelicans has gone down significantly from his 2012-2013 season with the Kings.

Per 36 Minutes Points Rebounds Assists Steals
2012-2013 17.6 5.1 4.1 1.6
2013-2014 18.2 6.3 6.1 1.7

 

New Orleans players didn’t openly discuss what was going on with Evans, but readily talked about how important he is to this Pelicans franchise.

“He’s a big part of what we’re doing here,” forward Al-Farouq Aminu said. “We’re really excited about all the things he’s done.”

Point guard Brian Roberts said that Evans has been aggressive from the start. “We all know the type of player that he is and he’s shown that on the court,” Roberts said. “To have a guy of that caliber to come in as the 6th man, that’s huge for this team.”

That aggressiveness Roberts referred to could be because of the rushed way Evans said he’s played. As New Orleans’ big-name offseason acquisition, this pressure to perform and stay on the court has affected his shooting percentages.

Not communicating well with the head coach probably hasn’t helped matters either.

Shlomo Sprung is a national columnist for Sheridan Hoops who loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You should follow him on Twitter.

Tweet of the Day: NBA, Players Remember Nelson Mandela

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Many amazing men have walked the earth having had a profound impact on the world with their lives. Men like Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr.. Their deaths were monumental and the cause of grief to many.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela died Thursday at the age of 95.

Mandela was instrumental in bringing about the end of Apartheid (racial segregation) and ushering in an era of ethnic equality in South African politics. His efforts earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Addressing his passing, United States President Barack Obama spoke to the press from the White House.

He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today he’s gone home, and we’ve lost one of the most influential, courageous and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth.”

The NBA Offseason: A Betting Preview

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dwighthoward

The Dwight Howard signing had a humongous effect on the futures market for who will win the NBA title.

And then it started a trickle-down effect.

StatBox Free Agency Breakdown: Winners & Losers July 11 Update

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Most of the star players in free agency are now off the board, but there are still plenty of impact players to discuss in this updated version of the Free Agency Breakdown with unique analytic angles. We here at Sheridan Hoops will break everything down for you into bite sized Winners & Losers style pieces.

HowardThe Houston Rockets, GM Daryl Morey and Dwight Howard were WINNERS after agreeing to a four-year deal worth $88 million to finally, mercifully, ending the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. Morey set out a year ago to acquire two stars to legitimately compete in this SuperTeam Era that currently rules the NBA and got them in Howard and Harden.

Houston also signed Francisco Garcia to a team-friendly contract worth $1.3 million over two years. Garcia could probably replace Carlos Delfino in a spacer-type role for Houston after shooting 37.4 percent from three last season. Houston then picked up another spacer in Reggie Williams, who needs to greatly improve from his 30.6 shooting percentage from three last season with Charlotte.

Of course, the Howard deal makes the Los Angeles Lakers the big losers of the offseason for getting nothing out of Howard and looking ridiculous in doing so. They will now try to delude themselves into thinking players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will come next offseason. Good. Freaking. Luck.

But if there is any consolation for Laker fans, I do like their signing of Chris Kaman a lot. Despite a sharp decrease in minutes with the Mavericks last season, from 29.2 to 20.7 per game, Kaman shot 50.7 percent from the field (his best percentage in a season in which he played over 40 games since the 2005-2006 season) and averaged 10.5 points with 5.6 rebounds. His Win Shares per 48 minutes was his best mark since the 2007-2008 campaign. Expect better production in LA with a slightly increased workload. And Jordan Farmar won’t be a bad player either for the veteran’s minimum.

Josh SmithDwight Howard’s good friend, Josh Smith, ended up with Detroit for four-years and $56 million and Al Jefferson cashed in for three years and $41 million with Charlotte. This brings us a really interesting philosophical question: Can these players be the highest paid, and best, players for playoff teams? The answer is likely no. But does that mean the teams shouldn’t try?

Despite a subpar year by his standards Smith is still a really good player, so the jury is still out on this signing for the Pistons. Smith will make a really good frontcourt with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but do the Pistons have the backcourt to compete? Not right now, even with the Chauncey Billups signing (two years, $5 million).

LAC_Billups_ChaunceyBillups will add veteran leadership and a fan favorite to the Detroit roster, but he’s only played 42 total games over the last two seasons. But when he’s played he’s been good, shooting 36.7 percent from three last season with a Win Share/48 number that’s well above average. It’s just hard to envision Billups being healthy all season. Billups will join Will Bynum, who Detroit re-signed to an affordable two-year deal worth $5.75 million. Bynum shot a career best 46.9 percent from the field and averaged nearly 10 points per game for the Pistons in 2012-2013.

It’ll also be interesting to see how the team uses reigning Italian League MVP Gigi Datome, who inked a two-year deal worth $3.5 million. Our resident Euro expert A.J. Mitnick told me that he’ll need to adjust to the NBA game, but the potential is there for Datome to become a nice NBA player. I’ll take his word for it…

On the Charlotte side of things, there’s no doubt that Jefferson is a really, really good player. Anyone who shoots nearly 50 percent from the field and averages nearly 18 points and over nine boards per game is really good. His defense will certainly help an inept Bobcats team in that department, but his offensive rating of 109 last season leaves something to be desired.

Can Jefferson, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo coexist in the frontcourt? Can Jefferson be the best player on a playoff team? Jefferson has made the playoffs just twice in his nine-season career, losing in the first round on both occasions. Golden State signed David Lee to an enormous contract, and Golden State ended up okay by hitting it big by drafting Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson. Charlotte will have to do that in order to not look foolish with this Jefferson signing, so, again, the jury is still out.

StatBox Free Agency Breakdown: Houston and Golden State among the weekend’s big winners, Lakers, Mavs and Bucks lose out

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While you were barbecuing, partying, working, relaxing or otherwise enjoying your extended July 4 weekend, a total of 14 teams made notable moves ranging from The Dwecision down to the smart or foolish signings of role players. And since we live in a country where instant gratification rules the day and short attention spans allows games like Candy Crush to reap $633,000 a day in revenue, we here at Sheridan Hoops will break everything down for you into bite sized Winners & Losers style pieces.

HowardThe Houston Rockets, GM Daryl Morey and Dwight Howard were WINNERS after agreeing to a four-year deal worth $88 million to finally, mercifully, ending the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. It will be interesting to see how Howard’s addition impacts the Rockets’ NBA-best pace numbers from last season. Will they try to slow things down with Howard in the half-court and change things up from their James Harden-led playoff run from last season? How will Howard perform along with Jeremy Lin in the pick-and-roll? How will Howard coexist with Omer Asik, who now reportedly wants out?

At this point, all these questions don’t really matter. Morey set out a year ago to acquire two stars to legitimately compete in this SuperTeam Era that currently rules the NBA and got them in Howard and Harden. Howard can settle down and finally concentrate on, we hope, playing basketball. And as an added bonus, Houston signed Francisco Garcia to a team-friendly contract worth $1.3 million over two years. Garcia could probably replace Carlos Delfino in a spacer-type role for Houston after shooting 37.4 percent from three last season.

Of course, this makes the Los Angeles Lakers the big losers of the weekend for getting nothing out of Howard and looking ridiculous in doing so. They will now try to delude themselves into thinking players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will come next offseason. Good. Freaking. Luck.