During the past week, it had been reported that the New Orleans Pelicans were interested in the Sacramento Kings’ restricted free agent shooting guard Tyreke Evans and that he had agreed to sign a 4 year, $44M offer sheet with the team, which the Kings would not be comfortable matching.
Well it turns out that the Kings were very uncomfortable with the idea of matching that kind of contract for Evans, and so they have found out a better alternative by agreeing to a 3-way trade with the Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers. ESPN’s Marc Stein was the first to break the story, and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports provides the details of the trade which is that the Kings will send shooting guard Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans; the Pelicans will send center Robin Lopez and shooting guard to the Trail Blazers and point guard Greivis Vasquez to the Kings; and the Trail Blazers will send future draft picks and cash to the Pelicans and Kings.
A major factor in this trade happening is the Pelicans’ desire to get rid of Robin Lopez due to the fact that he has $10.4M left on his contract, which would make it hard for them to afford Tyreke Evans. With the Kings not wanting to take on that contract or crowd their front court, the Pelicans and Kings have found a third-party in the Portland Trail Blazers who not only can afford to take on Robin Lopez, but also are eager to beef up their front court.
The New Orleans Pelicans are starting to put together a pretty competitive roster that will likely start Jrue Holiday at the point guard position (acquired in a draft day trade with the Philadelphia 76ers), Eric Gordon at the shooting guard position, Tyreke Evans at the small forward position, Ryan Anderson at the power forward position, and Anthony Davis at center. That’s a starting five that certainly seems like it could be playoff caliber in what is a really tough and deep Western Conference. In addition to making their team’s roster and starting five better, the Pelicans also increased the chances of Eric Gordon staying in New Orleans. Gordon, Holiday, and Evans have been good friends ever since their AAU days, and Gordon himself has said that he plans on staying in New Orleans for the long-term according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
“I’m all in with the Pelicans,” said Gordon, who has been friends with Holiday and Evans since their AAU days. “It would be great if we can all play together. I would say we’d definitely have a chance to make the playoffs.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent, but I do feel comfortable I am coming back,” Gordon said. “I think there is a good to great chance I will be back.”
The Pelicans obtained Gordon in the Chris Paul trade with the hopes of him being a central part of their franchise for the long-term. It certainly sounds like he’s happy for now, and that is big news for the Pelicans. If they can start to win some games and get themselves into the playoff picture, their chances of keeping Gordon will go up even more. This move also is a testament to the growing change in the dynamic of the NBA, which is switching to small ball. A lineup with Holiday, Gordon, and Evans is designed to really push the ball and get a lot of buckets in transition. After seeing the Miami Heat win titles playing with this style, the Pelicans are just another team trying to keep up with the Jones’ and switch to this small ball style. It will be interesting to see how effective it is for them since they obviously don’t have anybody as good as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
As for the Kings, this move makes sense in that they are trying to move on to a new era of basketball with their new ownership led by Vivek Ranadive and new front office led by general manager Pete D’Alessandro. They are turning a new leaf in Sacramento, and by letting go of Tyreke Evans, the Kings can now build around center DeMarcus Cousins, rookie shooting guard Ben McLemore, and point guard Greivis Vasquez. The Kings have a pretty solid nucleus to build around, but there are more changes that they still need to make. Especially to their back court. Point guards Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas are still there as is shooting guard Marcus Thornton. If Vasquez is your starting point guard and McLemore is your eventual starting shooting guard, why hang on to Thomas, Fredette, and Thornton when all three guys have pretty good trade value? Thomas has played well for them and is somewhat of a heart warming story being the last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft, but we all know once his rookie contract is over, he is going to demand a lot more money, which they likely won’t be able to pay him. Thornton has to go in order to let McLemore develop and we all know the franchise has had a rocky relationship with Fredette ever since he came to the organization. I fully expect all three guys to be out of Sacramento in the near future.
For the Trail Blazers, this move also makes sense since they could use a good center like Robin Lopez to play along side power forward LaMarcus Aldridge as well as play some pick and roll with point guard Damian Lillard. Getting Robin Lopez and only have to give up some cash and second round picks is a steal for the Trail Blazers if you ask me.
As for who wins this trade, I give the edge to the Pelicans because this trade elevates their level the most. This trade immediately puts them into the playoff mix and also gives them a fresh new start as the Pelicans. However, I think that all three teams benefit from this trade, and should all be excited about what they got out of the deal. The Western Conference certainly just got a lot more interesting.
—Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord