The New Orleans
Hornets Pelicans got their man on Thursday by completing a three team trade with the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trailblazers. The Pelicans agreed to pay Tyreke Evans $44 million over 4 years, the Kings received combo guard Greivis Vasquez from the Pelicans to help facilitate the sign and trade plus a second round pick from the Blazers, and the Blazers got center Robin Lopez in exchange for the newly drafted, Jeff Withey.
Evans is a player who showed enormous promise in his first year, winning the rookie of the year award, dropping a very good (for a rookie) 18+ Player Efficiency Rating. The problem for Evans, and now for the Pelicans, is that Evans hasn’t gotten any better, really, since that rookie season. He got worse for two years following his rookie year before bouncing back this year where he was marginally better than his rookie year. Players this young and this talented shouldn’t stagnate for 3 full years but that is just what Evans has done. This deal feels like it could be a pretty big overpay, but Tyreke Evans has consistently shown the rare ability to get wherever he pleases on the basketball court, along with solid passing and rebounding for a wing player. He’s still a below average shooter and his defense is poor. If his shooting continues to improve, as it did this year, and if he can figure things out defensively, this will seem like a good, maybe even great deal. Looking at it without the benefit of knowing the future, it feels like a reach. The Pelicans are betting on Evans’s talent and their own coaching staff’s ability to get the most out of him, and it’s hard to totally blame them. After his first year in the league, Evans looked like a sure bet to be a candidate for a maximum contract extension. If he lives up to that promise in New Orleans, this deal will go from looking like a reach to an absolute steal. That’s the way these things go sometimes. Just ask people who bashed Mike Conley’s extension or questioned the Warriors for locking up Stephen Curry when concerns about his weak ankles were rampant. Conley now seems appropriately paid and Curry is, rightly, perceived to be an absolutely incredible value as a borderline superstar level player working on a contract several million a year below the maximum he could be paid. Evans will be just 24 next season and if you’re going to risk overpaying a player based on projected growth, betting on a player who will be just 24 in the first year of a 4 year deal is one of the best bets you can make, especially when it is already clear, as is the case with Tyreke, that the talent is there.
The Kings, under newer, much more competent management, have done well for themselves here. Once it became clear that New Orleans was going to pay much more for Evans than his production the last few years would suggest is wise, and the Kings knew they were uncomfortable making the bet that Evans lives up to his potential, getting assets in return for losing him became paramount. That’s just what the Kings have managed. Greivis Vasquez is a solid offensive player, who doesn’t really have the physical tools to be a plus defender. Vasquez has improved every year he’s been in the league and stands to make just a bit over $2 million next year. He’s a nice value to go with the second round pick the Kings picked up in the deal from the Blazers.
The Blazers got Robin Lopez as a defensively focused center to pair with their star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Lopez is also an efficient scorer on an average usage level, so he is not a negative on the offensive end by any means. He should be a very good fit with Aldridge, and the Blazers must hope his presence will help convince LMA to stop demanding trades to my beloved Bulls.