Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
Tyreke Evans will be up for a big payday in July ... maybe. Whether he is or not, the Kings are in a great position to make the right decision.
Two notable things happened with regard to Tyreke Evans on Wednesday.
1. Tyreke Evans had a brilliant little game -- 21 points on 8-13 shooting, 8 rebounds and 3 assists with just 2 turnovers.
2. Tyreke Evans did not get an early extension to his rookie scale contract before the midnight ET deadline.
Evans wasn't perfect in the opener -- he had an atrocious five-second violation in the final minute of a tight game (yeesh) and took just two three-pointers in 39 minutes, which helped deflate the team's total. But he was really, really good.
Some teams got good deals on early extensions -- the Warriors inked Stephen Curry for $44 million over four years, which is a steal if he's remotely healthy. (If ...) The Nuggets got Ty Lawson for $12 million per year, which might be the second best non-max point guard deal in the league within a year or two. (Rajon Rondo still has that award.) But there were some bad deals, too: DeMar DeRozan for $40 million, Jrue Holiday for $41 million.
The Kings were smart to wait. What's the worse that could happen by waiting? That the opener was an omen, and Evans is going to be amazing this season, an improvement even from his rookie campaign? OK, cool. The Kings will be a lot better and Evans will get a massive contract. Cool.
If the opener was instead a bit of noise in another average season, then the Kings can either get him for a fair value, trade him for pieces at the deadline, do a sign-and-trade in July or let him walk while focusing salary elsewhere. It'd be a huge disappointment, but at least it wouldn't be a huge expensive disappointment.
If Evans develops this season and wows, well, that's why the Kings drafted him. If he disappoints, well, that's why the Kings didn't extend him. It's a win-win, which is pretty darned rare around here.
And I must say ... if Evans plays like a realistic version of the player he was on Wednesday, and DeMarcus Cousins plays a little better than last season, and we can get a little more defense all over, this can be a decent team. It's all on Evans, Cousins and team defense. I'm becoming a believer, sort of.