How Will Tyreke Evans Effect the Golden State Warriors?

Feb 4, 2013; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Sacramento Kings point guard Tyreke Evans (13) dribbles around Utah Jazz point guard Randy Foye (8) during the first half at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans, a former rookie of the year, has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.  However, because the Sacramento Kings extended a qualifying offer to Evans at the beginning of his free agency, they retain the right to match any offer.

At first, it appeared that Sacramento did not intend to match the Pelicans’ offer to Evans. The Kings extended a max-salary contract to Denver Nuggets’ swingman Andre Iguodala, an unrestricted free agent.  To generate the cap space to extend Iguodala a max contract, the Kings would have to renounce their rights to Evans.

However, the Kings suddenly revoked their offer to Iguodala.  Numerous reports suggest that the Kings do not wish to pay Evans such a high annual salary, but fear losing an asset.  The Pelicans can negotiate a sign-and-trade with the Kings for Evans, but may attempt to sign Evans outright with the hope that the Kings would not match.

So, how will the result of the increasingly complex Evans saga affect the Warriors?

October 17, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans (13) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the third quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Sacramento Kings 98-88. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

By my estimation, it appears that New Orleans is the most likely destination for Evans, whether by a sign-and-trade (most likely involving Greivis Vasquez and Robin Lopez) or through a direct offer.  It is possible that Evans stays in Sacramento, while teams like the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks may attempt to throw in a late bid.

Of Evans’ likely suitors, the recently re-tooled Pelicans are most likely to be in direct competition with the Warriors. Though a more optimistic fan may disagree, the Warriors are not assured a playoff spot next season and may find themselves in competition with several Western Conference teams.

Reports indicate that the Pelicans plan to use Evans off the bench, though this may be an attempt to raise the value of shooting guard Eric Gordon for a later trade.  Though the cohesion of Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon and Evans is questionable, the potential addition of Evans raises the ceiling of the Pelicans’ roster, which, given improvements from Anthony Davis, may be in contention for a playoff spot.

It should be noted that the common perception of Evans is that he fell off after his rookie year. Though his aggregate production has not yet returned to rookie year levels, Evans has developed greatly as a player since then, improving his jump shot, off-ball offense and defensive ability.

The Sacramento Kings did not put Evans in the position to succeed, and while he should not be judged on an entirely different standard, a better run organization, be it the revamped Kings or the Pelicans, should prompt improved production from Evans.

After a season as a ball-dominant scoring guard in which he saw little variance in role, Evans was forced, ill-prepared, off the ball.  His role changed before he was prepared to do so.

Coming off the bench, Evans should be able to return his ball-dominant roots while utilizing his improved off ball skills when paired with one or two of the Pelicans’ offensive creators Holiday and Gordon.

Feb 01, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans (13) brings the ball up court during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Kings 89-80. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Were Evans to stay with the Kings, he would likely have little short-term effects on the Warriors beyond the four yearly meetings.

I would not expect Evans’ contract to affect the market value of the Warriors’ free agents, Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry, nor that of any of the Warriors’ likely targets, who would all be on a much lower level, both financially and as players, than Evans.

Though Warriors fans may not wish to sympathize with their division rivals, the reformation of the Sacramento Kings and the availability of other opportunities represents a chance for all the Kings’ players to progress from the disastrous Maloof era, an era that limited the growth of the players and the franchise.