Sacramento Kings guard and former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans will be a restricted free agent this offseason. Since the team failed to sign Evans to an extension before he hit the open market, it now has to bid against other franchises to retain Evans.
So, how much is Tyreke worth to Sacramento?
Determining Evans’ value comes down to two components. First, it’s determining how much money similar players command. Second, it’s about figuring out whether Tyreke is worth more to the Kings than he is to other franchises.
Comparing Tyreke Evans to Similar Players
Figuring out a ballpark figure for Evans’ value comes down to comparing him to similar players and the type of money those players received when signing their contracts. In Tyreke’s case, there are quite a few examples of comparable players.
In order to make the data easier to decipher, I’ve set up a table with some similar players, a few of their key statistics through their first four seasons in the NBA and the contracts they signed.
Now let’s compare those players to Evans in all the same categories to see how he stacks up. Then, once we’ve got all the data in front of us, we should be able to come up with a pretty fair market-value contract for Evans.
For the most part, Evans stacks up perfectly with these counterparts. His scoring, rebounding and assist averages are superior to his peers. However, they have a slight edge in average overall win shares.
Based on the similarities in production, it’s fair to put Tyreke’s market-value contract in the four-year, $40 million range.
Determining Tyreke Evans’ Value to the Kings
This is where the proposition gets dicey, mainly because it’s based on some subjectivity when compared to the objectivity of overall market value.
Yet the case could be made that Tyreke is worth slightly more to the Kings than he may be to another franchise. Or, in other words, Sacramento should match an offer to keep him if it’s slightly above his market value.
With the way Sacramento’s roster is currently comprised, Tyreke is one of the team’s two most valuable players. Because of that, losing him could really set the organization back.
Essentially there are two ways of looking at Evans’ value to the Kings going forward. One is that he’s largely going to be the same player going forward that he is right now. The other is that Tyreke still has some areas for significant growth in his game.
Entering the season I was less bullish on Tyreke’s ability to improve. I thought the skill set was clearly there for him to take a jump forward, but it never seemed to materialize in on-court results. However, this past season has made me reconsider that philosophy.
After staying stagnant in the two years following his sensational rookie campaign, Evans started to make some necessary adjustments.
For one, he finally started to develop an outside shot. After shooting 25.5 percent from three-point range during his first three years, Evans saw this percentage jump to 33.8 percent.
While his current mark still leaves a lot to be desired compared to many guards in the NBA, the fact that he’s headed in the right direction is encouraging. After all, Evans has shown the ability to get to the basket at will since he came into the league. But developing the necessary outside shot to keep defenders honest was the next step in his evolution.
Beyond just the three-point shooting, his overall efficiency took a step forward. He set career highs in field-goal percentage (.478), offensive rating (110), win-shares per 48 minutes (.105) and turnover percentage (12.6).
On the one hand, it took Evans three years to make any discernible strides in his game. On the other hand, he’s finally starting to make them and he’s still only 23 years old. The uncertainty is whether or not the recent trend will continue going forward.
However, the Kings aren’t in much of a position to gamble on their future. Evans is one of the few young assets they have. He may not be an elite player, but he’s still relatively young, he’s still got reasonable room to improve his game and he’s starting to make some of those adjustments. Therefore, Sacramento needs to retain him if the price is right.
What Is the Right Price?
Market value dictates that Evans should get in the neighborhood of a four-year, $40 million contract. I can’t imagine it being much less than that; however, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him get a bit more.
While his win shares are slightly below some of his comparable players, his scoring, rebounding and assist numbers are clearly better. Of course, front offices will use more than scoring, rebounding and assists to determine what a player’s worth.
But when you combine those statistics with his pedigree (Rookie of the Year, top-five pick in the draft, incredibly talented) and his age, it makes it reasonable to assume that a team could fall in love with him and offer him a big contract.
Since Tyreke is a restricted free agent, the Kings have the opportunity to match any offer he receives. So they can set an internal value of what he’s worth and match any offers that are equal or below that threshold and decline the ones that are above it.
Based on what we’ve seen from Tyreke and the marketplace, Sacramento should go to him with a four-year, $40 million contract offer. If he’s looking for more, the Kings should be willing to increase their offer a bit, but there needs to be a maximum they won’t go past.
That maximum should be four years, $48 million. It’s more money that Steph Curry got, and even though I like Evans’ ability to improve, I don’t know that he’ll ever equal what Curry’s been of late. But Curry also got his extension without hitting the open market, and the possibility of other bidders joining the fray might raise Tyreke’s value.
The Kings need to keep him if they can, so going slightly above market value isn’t the end of the world. But going substantially above it is a problem—it’s how Sacramento got in this position of little cap flexibility to begin with. So while retaining Tyreke Evans is a priority, making sound decisions going forward should be an even bigger one.
(Note: All stats and contract info come from Basketball-Reference.com)
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