Now, two years of disappointment have led to fans clambering for Evans to be traded, and rumors are the Kings will be shopping him this summer.
If the right deal comes along for Evans, or any Kings player for that matter, Geoff Petrie should pull the trigger. But the general belief that the Kings should actively seek Evans' departure is foolish.
I'm as disappointed in Evans' stagnant jump shot as anyone. Evans needs to dedicate himself to improving his offensive skills while also learning to play off the ball. There can be no question that Evans holds a ton of raw talent, and that he is in charge of developing it.
But we shouldn't mistake that responsibility as Evans' alone. Rather, the Kings organization needs to bear the responsibility for Evans' production, and fans also need to realize that their unrealistic expectations of Evans since his rookie year are a big reason why they want to see him out of here.
Most importantly, the Kings can't trade Evans now when his value is down. That would be a dreadful basketball move, and one that would set the franchise back even further on their quest to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Let's take a look at five key reasons why the Kings would be foolish to trade Evans, and why fans shouldn't be so eager to see him leave.
Let's get this out of the way first. Evans' shooting is dreadful. His pull-up and step-back jump shots are way below what they need to be, and his three-point shooting has actually gotten worse since his rookie year. There is no denying that Evans is, right now, a bad shooter.
But fans and experts alike treat as means that he isn't improving at all. That simply isn't true. Evans is not only improving, but he's improving as an entirely different player than he's been for all his life.
Evans has become a far more willing distributor since his rookie year, passing the ball in difficult situations instead of driving to the basket and forcing up bad shots.
Most importantly, he's changing as a player. Head Coach Keith Smart has done what no other coach in Evans history has done—he's teaching Evans to play without the ball.
With Isaiah Thomas running the floor, Evans' scoring has gone down, but his shooting percentage has gone way, way up.
In March, playing mostly off-ball, Evans averaged 16.5 points, 3.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds on 49.8 percent shooting. In April, with Isaiah Thomas locked in as the team's main ball handler, Evans averaged 14.6 points, but on a very efficient 50 percent shooting.
Before the All-Star Break, Evans averaged 17.3 points but shot just 42.1 percent. After the All-Star Game, playing mostly off the ball, he averaged 15.5 points but shot 49.8 percent from the floor. His shots went down, but his efficiency soared.
It's foolish to say Evans isn't improving. His shooting hasn't, that's for sure. But he's certainly improved his floor vision, his passing and he's doing so while learning to be an entirely new player.
Evans had a great rookie season. He averaged 20 points, five assists and five rebounds, something only three other rookies (Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson and LeBron James) managed to do.
So when Evans didn't duplicate that feat in either of his next seasons, fans began to look at him as a "failure."
Saying that Evans is a flop for failing to keep up that production is simply foolish considering the factors that worked against him.
In 2009-2010, Evans was pretty much the only talent the Kings had. His best teammate was Jason Thompson, who now in 2012 is arguably the Kings' fifth best talent. Evans was the ONLY consistent scorer the Kings had, so of course his point total was going to decrease when Sacramento added some actual scoring talent (DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas) around him.
Second, the last two years for Evans have produced problems out of his control. His sophomore season was plagued all year long by a foot injury that limited his explosiveness and practice time.
This past season was cut short by the lockout. When the team finally got back together in early December, they only had a few weeks to prepare before the season started. And of course, quickly into the year, Paul Westphal was fired and Keith Smart took over. Not exactly the picture of consistency for a young player to develop in.
While fans love to remember Evans' rookie season, the last two years haven't exactly been smooth sailing for a young, 22-year-old developing player.
If the Kings truly wish to deal Tyreke Evans, they are not helping themselves by letting anyone publicly know about it.
If Geoff Petrie is serious about shopping Evans, he should be doing it very quietly. But even so, Evans' value is too low for the Kings to seriously even consider making the move.
You don't sell when stocks are low without serious consideration. Evans' stock will go back up, especially once he has a whole year that is both injury free AND with a coach that actually develops him as a player.
Yes, there is risk involved. Evans could leave next summer, or it is possible his stock could plummet worse next year. But it is much safer to take that risk than to trade Evans for pennies on the dollar and risk that he actually figures this whole basketball thing out
The biggest issue of trading Tyreke Evans is simply this—the Kings are as much to blame for this predicament as he is, or maybe even more so.
Certainly, the Kings can only do so much to make Evans improve his skill set. You can't blame Sacramento for Evans' lack of a jump shot, but you can blame the Kings for quite a bit else.
Certainly, teams are in their right to advertise and market their young stars. When Evans broke out his rookie year and raced towards the Rookie of the Year award, the team put all their weight behind his momentum. Evans was broadcast by the team as a superstar.
And he was given a ton of leeway by then Coach Paul Westphal, who seemed unable or unwilling to actually coach his star and rather let Evans do as he wished. After all, it wasn't as if the Kings had a ton of other talent—Westphal decided the best way to try and win games was to give Evans the ball and get out of the way.
Only now, two years later, does Sacramento have a coach that is actually trying to help Tyreke figure out what kind of player he is, rather than hand him the ball and turn him loose. Keith Smart is trying to work Evans as an off-the-ball threat, and near the end of the season, it started working.
So how is this a reason not to trade Evans? Simple—why give up on a player when you're finally making the right steps in developing him?
Now that Evans actually has a coach who wants to develop him as a player, we can finally see what he can truly become if he works hard and starts to fit into the system.
Kings fans must shoulder some of the blame here. In Evans' rookie season, we as the fanbase latched onto a talented young player and hailed him as a franchise savior. We fueled the fire and put expectations on Evans when neither he, nor the team itself had even begun to gel. We expected far too much out of Evans' development before it even became clear what kind of player he was.
And now it's happening again, only backwards. Now that Evans has not lived up to our own lofty expectations, he's gone from franchise savior to being thrown under the bus—again, without sufficient time to let him or the team form any cohesiveness.
Rather than focus on the things Evans is improving on (his passing, his court vision and his mid-range game) we continue to only look at the bottom line—Evans isn't scoring as much as we expected, and thus, he must be a failure, right? Wrong. Evans isn't a failure, he doesn't suck and these instant fan reactions are just as bad as they were in 2009 when we all believed Evans would becoming a mini LeBron James.
He needs to improve his shooting ability, learn to play off the ball, work harder defensively and function as part of a unit. He needs to dedicate himself fully to his craft before he can live up to his potential.
But Sacramento didn't exactly give him all the tools he needed to grow properly as a player, and the rushed expectations from the team and the fanbase made it all the worse. And now that he isn't living up to those crazy expectations, apparently that means he has to go.
That would be a foolish mistake. Rather, fans need to squash their expectations of Evans and let him fully develop before we completely judge him.
If the team trades Evans now, when his value is so low, they have themselves to blame for much of the failure.