In the midst of the news that the Pelicans have agreed upon a 4-year, 44 million deal for Tyreke Evans, both the management and us as fans have been put in a position to evaluate Tyreke once and for all. Tyreke is a special player if anything based on the uniqueness of the problem he presents. Depending on how you look at it he can or cannot play three positions in the NBA. He is a talented slasher who is confident taking almost anyone to the hole, despite not having incredible speed or athleticism. From being a sneaky passer on the drive, to driving us crazy with his stupid fade away jumper, Tyreke is a player with many talents and faults despite how often those skills might contradict each other. But all those facts still raise the question not only what is Tyreke worth but is he worth to the Kings. For starters, my opinion is that 11 million a season is too much for Tyreke, but that really doesn't matter as much as that I think its too much for the Kings for Tyreke. And truly that is what this conversation in relation to Sacramento should be.
Let me begin with saying that I think Tyreke is closer to being a really good player then an above average one. Let it also be known that we don’t know what Tyreke's first contract years would have looked like without the drama of relocation and average coaches weighing on his conscience. And as a fan I think its important to say thank you to Tyreke regardless of what happens considering he was the only thing to cheer for in Sacramento in many of the recent years. But with all of that, let it be known that I think signing Tyreke could be a colossal mistake for the Kings for years to come and here's why.
Tyreke his rookie year made a point of saying that for better or worse he was a basketball player oppose to one specific position. In recent years since then Tyreke has bounced around every backcourt slot with each Kings fan deciding which one suited him best. If the Kings sign him they will sign him most likely as a Small Forward. For me this is the root of the problem of paying Tyreke. Moving Tyreke to SF is in hopes of not having so many possessions dominated by his habit to create off the dribble, but for better or worse that is what Tyreke is good at. He has found ways to be effective without the ball getting to the whole faster and improving his jump shot. But however you view Tyreke, as a long-term Small Forward the Kings must ask themselves if they are doing this to fill a role or is it to get Tyreke's current skill sets. It is the first option and I don’t think that is a smart investment. Just take for instance the hypothetical stance that Tyreke had the same career he did so far but with a different team, would the Kings even be considering signing him? I don’t think they would.
Say, for simply arguments sake we decide to move Tyreke back to his claim to fame position as the point, with the Kings investing in Tyreke as being the sole leader, and allowing him to create from ISO situations. In my mind this makes even less sense considering Tyreke's ceiling and considering that the majority of players who get to receive the Luxury of being "The Guy" have had their teams convinced that they can be a top 10 player in this League, true or not. Let it be known that I think Tyreke could be a very good player, maybe even an all star but that’s where his ceiling stops simply based off of his bad shooting habits (which he theoretically could get better at and has slightly improved recently) and his lack of a bounce something that wont change. Tyreke's numbers could get immensely better individually, earning the proposed contract he is about to receive, on an individual level, if he was allowed to be in full control of every possession much like he was his rookie year, but with a player whose ceiling cant reach a top ten level you have to question how good your team can get with that being the guy having to be in control on almost every possession.
And this is what makes Tyreke so difficult to project. Could Tyreke get 20 plus points in his career and be an all star level perimeter defender, yes, but if the goal in the future is a ring I don't think Tyreke can lead a team to that level being the best player on the court simply on how much he demands the ball to be his best self, and in reverse I don’t think he is a smart investment to be a second or third option considering his skill sets as an ISO player and where the team is as of right now.
As mentioned earlier I think Tyreke on an individual statistics level could easily earn the money he's been announced at around getting, however the key word is on an individual level and under my projections if Tyreke played better then that contract his team would be winning 30 games or less. And this what is tricky when talking about paying players. For me at least half the money of any players contract should be based on how well they can fit a team’s dynamics or better yet how little they hurt your team based on how much they provide you in return. In Tyreke's case the win to loss ratio he provides, as a player is too vast for me to pay him what has been projected. For Tyreke I see three career arcs. One is that he morphs, excluding many of his strengths to play off the ball and be a second or third option in a starting rotation. For the Kings sake if Tyreke were to become that player I don’t think the Kings should spend that kind of money at this point considering frankly how bad the team is. The Second arc is an OKC/Harden Like role in which Tyreke takes control as the ISO player he was his rookie year, but rather with 25 minutes a game. Frankly I think this is where he could excel lighting up second units by himself, and becoming the player that separates his team from the rest of the league. But with that circumstance the Kings aren’t good enough for Tyreke to fill that role and even if the team chose to place him on the bench, again at where this team is development wise its foolish to invest that kind of money for a championship like role player. The third option is Tyreke becomes a 20 plus point guy well earning his contract on an individual level, garnering all star accolades but his team wins 30 to 40 games at best every year for the rest of his career considering his lack of ability to be a top ten guy as previously mentioned earlier as well as his inability to make players better around him when being the focal point. As a Kings fan that frankly isn’t and enticing enough future.
All those options could be enticing to a handful of teams but I don’t think any of them have relevance to where the rest of this roster is and will be for the foreseeable future. From the Kings perspective say you give Tyreke a comparable contract to what the Pelicans offered putting 11 million a season on your books. Next year Demarcus whose restricted and who the new ownership group seems keen on keeping, will most likely garner an even larger deal, that’s placing at least 25 million a season for two players who frankly don't compliment each other and will most likely not show a playoff level chemistry in a season, let own championship level potential. Just on a business level it would be stupid to commit that kind of money, however promising the future could be without seeing even the slightest possibility of a 40 plus team. And even if they did show that potential the Kings would be most likely one or two pieces away from contending in the west and considering what would be their win total could shoot themselves in the foot with being able to draft another key piece, as well as being able to sign free agents while still having enough room for substantial role players (much like OKC's problem of not being able to retain Harden without loosing the ability to have formidable role players).
Tyreke is a a special player who if things had begun differently might have my support of being retained but as fans it is our duty to separate our feelings for players and what they can actually offer. If you love Tyreke's game and you think that he has the ability to make this team, along with one or two other pieces a contender, then by all means I hope that my words get swallowed whole in the future, but if that is not the case I ask you why should the Kings commit almost blue chipper money when the player is not a blue chipper but is best when he thinks he is. For me I simply break this down to how does Tyreke play with others, are the Kings in a place roster wise and financially that it would be smart to invest in any player garnering the proposed 44 million Tyreke is now predicted to get and what is Tyreke's ceiling as a basketball player moving forward. For me I don’t like any of the answers I've come to for those questions as they relate to our Sacramento Kings and their now guaranteed future here for years to come.