New Orleans Pelicans get: G Tyreke Evans, C Jeff Withey
Sacramento Kings get: PG Greivis Vasquez, two 2nd round picks
Portland Trailblazers get: C Robin Lopez, PG Terrel Harris
One of the worst kept secrets in all of basketball came to pass today, as Tyreke Evans was finally signed and traded to the New Orleans Hornets from the Sacramento Kings with a new four year, $44 million dollar contract. In return for their cooperation in not matching Evans’ offer sheet, Sacto received 2013 Most Improved Player runner-up Greivis Vasquez. The Portland Trailblazers completed the deal, sending 2013 second round pick C Jeff Withey to NOLA and taking on Robin Lopez.
On the surface, this trade looks like one of the rare cases where everyone looks to not only have filled a need, but done so not at the expense of their own future. New Orleans got the most talented player in the deal, as the 2010 Rookie of the Year joins an impressive back court that includes new import Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon. At this point, it’s unclear who will be coming off the bench (or if Evans will play SF, though that’s unlikely), but if I had to take a guess, it feels likee Tyreke’s ultimate destiny has always been to be a bench spark plug.
Whereas Jrue and Gordon both have their games predicated around slick shooting and driving the lane, Evans’ abilities seem to almost exclusively feature the latter. ‘Reke almost took more shots at the rim than he did everywhere else on the court combined last season, a strong symptom of just how poor his jump shooting is. However, this might not be entirely a bad thing–the chaos Evans is able to create by driving should complement whichever guard coach Monty Williams throws him in with. Moreover, Tyreke is a creative passer and a decent rebounder that should make for great finishes from a crashing Anthony Davis and sharpshooter Ryan Anderson. If he can be a 15 point scorer off the bench and keep his starter-like production, he’s well worth the $11 million a year that may seem excessive for a reserve. On the surface, a player that’s as strong a scorer as Evans should be the finishing touch towards propelling the Pelicans to postseason contention. It all depends on how healthy Eric Gordon is, as well as the expected development of Davis.
After years in a post-Mike Bibby wasteland, it feels as if the Kings have finally gotten a point guard that can make his teammates better. Greivis Vasquez is coming off a season in which delivered a league-leading 704 assist (9 per game!) and created an offense for a generally putrid Pelicans team that had no business scoring. He’s a fearless court general that often looked the best players in the league in the eye, rarely flinching at the challenge of being the best player on a hapless squad. This probably shunts Isaiah Thomas to a bench role, which may better suit his skillset rather than overextending him in a starting role.
The Trailblazers got lucky here in that NOLA needed someone to take on Robin Lopez’s $5 million dollar salary to make this trade work. With JJ Hickson’s return up in the air, Portland needed the other Lopez to shore up a razor thin front court. Even if Hickson does return, the team sorely needs Robin–he would be a great addition to the league’s worst performing bench unit. PDX couldn’t get any of their reserves to perform well, with Myers Leonard coming on towards the end of the season to be the only year-long bench player to average over 5 points per game.