Phoenix Suns: With James Harden Traded, Is Tyreke Evans the Backup Plan?

Sam CooperCorrespondent IIIOctober 27, 2012

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Tyreke Evans #13 of the Sacramento Kings looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

On Saturday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to a trade that will send James Harden to the Rockets. With this news, the Suns are now officially out of the James Harden sweepstakes. So, what happens now? Neither Jared Dudley or Shannon Brown are great players, and the Suns will need a go-to scorer in the starting rotation if they really want to contend in the near future.

Kevin Martin might be an option. Though he was just traded to the Thunder, Martin is on a one-year deal and would hit free agency as an unrestricted free agent. He's a fantastic shooter, and seems like he would fit well with the Suns.

Monta Ellis is another player to consider. Ellis has an early termination option, and if he gets upset with having to share the ball with Brandon Jennings while the Bucks continue to lose, then he could be a great target for the Suns. 

But, before seriously exploring anyone else, perhaps the Suns should look no further than Kings swingman Tyreke Evans. After an amazing rookie season just a couple of years ago in which he put up averages of 20.1 points and 5.8 assists a game, Evans has struggled in Sacramento and has taken a hit in nearly every statistical category across the board. Evans has also struggled to find his place in the league, as he's spent time at point guard, shooting guard and small forward over the past three seasons.

It's clear that Evans is simply not a good fit in Sacramento. He hasn't helped the team win any extra games, and his name has also been coming up in trade rumors for a while now. Perhaps the Suns should take the risk on Evans, just as they did with Michael Beasley this past summer.

Evans could still rise once again and live up to his superstar potential, or at least repeat the same success he had in his rookie season. He is a fairly efficient shooter, he can be a playmaker if needed and run the point, he's a good rebounder for his position and he also isn't a bad defender. Really, he's pretty much an all-around player. His biggest weakness probably comes with his three-point shooting, as he's connected on just 26 percent of his three-point shots over his career, an unsightly number for a shooting guard.

There are certainly other options for the Suns to take. For example, Martin and Ellis could both be great signings, but Ellis lacks size and Martin has already hit his ceiling and is 29 years old. Evans still has plenty of room to grow and could be a cheaper option in free agency, even as a restricted free agent.

Losing out on Harden comes as a big disappointment, but there are absolutely other players to explore. Evans would be a bit of a project, but he's still young and could be groomed into a great player. Saying he would lead the Suns to a title is extremely optimistic, especially because he never really helped the Kings succeed, but he could still be a key piece in turning the Phoenix Suns into contenders again.