Just yesterday Tyreke Evans received a surprisingly high offer from the New Orleans Pelicans, $44 million over the course of four years. Following a somewhat miraculous victory over the Magoofs earlier this Spring, thanks to a seemingly heaven-sent ownership group, we can finally focus on basketball operations. So here we are at a crossroads of sorts, and one which will dramatically change the course of Sacramento Kings basketball. After a truly stunning rookie campaign, Tyreke's future seemed brighter than ever. It was easy to envision him joining the pantheon of basketball greats; after all his 20-5-5 stat line distinguished him as part of an elite club including the likes of Oscar Robertson and Lebron James. Since his first season, Tyreke's stats have steadily decreased on a yearly basis. I implore you: does this player deserve a $44 million contract? I am of the opinion he is not an asset worth retaining, and for the following reasons:
- Stats are not everything. This statement could validate either keeping or not keeping Evans. I watched a majority of the games in his career, and if you did too, you'll probably agree Tyreke has made more than his fair share bone-headed plays thus far, and I don't do see that changing. Yes, his player development has been stifled by the lack of consistent or competent coaching. That being said, Tyreke clearly doesn't have a high basketball IQ, which is imperative for an elite point guard. I'm of the ilk this skill cannot be taught; it's inherent and you either have it or you don't. I don't share much in common with Geoff Petrie, but he and the organization seemed to agree with me, and as a result, Reke shuffled from playing point to shooting guard and even small forward.
- Tyreke cannot excel in either of these positions. His competitive advantage and upside always were a bi-product of his athleticism and extreme physicality. The way he manhandled smaller points became his strongest suit...they simply couldn't play defense on him. By pure size, Reke's a two-guard. He's 6'6 and athletic, but as we all know, the guy can't shoot consistently. He's a driver and a slasher.
- The same logic applies to Reke on the wing. A productive small forward will stretch the floor. He'll have the ability to get to the hoop (which Tyreke does have) but will also be able to spot-up hit open threes and be productive as an off-ball scorer. This isn't Evans' game; additionally, the competitive advantage he enjoyed as an oversized guard is irrelevant when defending the likes of average small forwards (usually an inch or two taller than Tyreke).
I'm a confessed Bill Simmons disciple. I believe Tyreke Evans is a prime case of a "good player, bad team". Evans thrived on a team that won 17 games (maybe 25, can't remember) in his rookie year, his statistically best season. He's like any other high usage scorer, a Monta Ellis, Rudy Gay, or even *gasp" Carmelo Anthony. These players are not similar in style of play, but they can all score while not necessarily improving their teams' play as a whole. In other words, you want these guys to play on your team, but when it comes to winning championships, they probably won't take you there. In an era when NBA front offices increasingly rely on advanced statistics, these players have less and less of a place on the rosters of the best basketball clubs. Excluding the likes of Lebron James, I believe the small forwards of the future will better resemble Kawhi Leonard, guys who can hit the three, play defense, and rack up boards. For our current roster, we already have scoring. Let Demarcus bang in the paint, and let's see what this Ben McLemore kid is made of.
So what's my solution? I'll be honest, I have no idea if this could even work financially, but I don't think we can let Tyreke walk for nothing. My dream... a sign and trade where we move Reke and Patrick Patterson for Grievis Vasquez and Ryan Anderson. I've seen this before on other StR posts, and I think it's pretty brilliant. We'd still have plenty of moves to make and a gaping hole at small forward, but I think we'd be a lot closer to a talented roster rather than "the pickup basketball team from Hell" (Simmons). Thoughts?