Most-Likely NBA Teams to Snag Restricted Free Agent Tyreke Evans
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After failing to sign an extension prior to the 2012-13 season, Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans is slated for free agency this offseason. With a four-year track record as a successful NBA player, there figures to be plenty of teams looking to bring in Evans.
However, wanting to bring in Tyreke is only one piece of the puzzle. Teams will also need the necessary cap space to add him to their roster. Because of that, there are only a handful of teams capable of landing the guard.
Therefore, in compiling this list, two factors were considered: 1) if Evans is a fit personnel-wise and 2) if the team had enough cap space to sign a player of Tyreke’s caliber. In order to be a good fit, both components need to be present.
It’s also fair to point out that Evans’ market value has yet to be determined. At the same time, I wrote a recent article estimating how much he’ll command on the open market, based on the contracts that similar players signed.
I would suggest reading that previously mentioned article, but for the purposes of this one, I’m estimating his market value around $10 million per year. So teams without that amount of cap space weren’t strongly considered.
Even with those constraints in place, there were still some viable landing spots for Evans this summer, meaning it should be an eventful summer for the former Rookie of the Year.
Salary figures via hoopshype.com.
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The only reason the Cavs should even be considered is because with only $27.5 million committed to salary next season, they have the requisite cap space to sign Evans. However, one has to think with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters already on the team, Cleveland has its backcourt of the future. The team could still bring in Evans because he has some experience playing the 3, but it’s certainly not an ideal fit.
The Blazers are even less likely to sign Evans than Cleveland. Like with the Cavs, they’re seemingly set in their backcourt with Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews. Yet Portland figures to have even less cap space, with $43 million already committed to next season. The only reason they’re worth mentioning is because they’re closer to contention than the Cavs, so they might make a move if ownership is in a win-now mode.
6. Dallas Mavericks
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It’s hard to imagine the Mavericks signing Evans; they’ve seemingly got bigger fish to fry. Speculation is that Dallas will try and use its ample cap space to sign a big-name free agent, like maybe Dwight Howard, Chris Paul or Josh Smith. The team missed the playoffs for the first time since 1999-00, and bringing in a star player is the quickest way to get back on track.
But what if the Mavericks miss out on their coveted players, just like they did with Deron Williams last season? What happens then? In that scenario, the team might turn toward the next tier of free agency, which is where players like Evans reside.
In that scenario, the franchise will still have cap space, and it will likely still be looking to build a contending team around Dirk Nowitzki. If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t put my money on Dallas. But stranger things have certainly happened.
5. Atlanta Hawks
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The Hawks certainly aren’t front-runners to sign Evans. However, with the contracts for Josh Smith, Devin Harris, Zaza Pachulia and Kyle Korver coming off the books, Atlanta figures to have plenty of cap space. In fact, the Hawks only have $18.5 million committed to player salary in 2013-14.
But with Lou Williams and Jeff Teague still under contract for next season, the Hawks already have two starting-caliber guards. So while they certainly have the cap flexibility to sign Evans, they might not have the need.
4. Detroit Pistons
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With only $21 million guaranteed for contracts next season, the Pistons figure to have plenty of flexibility. Of course, Rodney Stuckey ($8.5 million) and Charlie Villanueva ($8.58 million) both have player options they’re likely to exercise. Even then, that only puts Detroit’s commitments around $36 million, leaving plenty of extra space for Evans.
With Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe looking more than capable of making up a formidable frontcourt and Brandon Knight looking like a solid piece in the backcourt, adding Evans to the mix might not be a bad idea. His ability to play the 1, 2 or 3 is a bonus. And with Rodney Stuckey undoubtedly off the books after 2013-14, the Pistons would have even more freedom to juggle Evans throughout the lineup.
3. Phoenix Suns
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The Suns are a curious team. On the one hand, they seem to have enough talent to where adding a player of Evans’ caliber could put them in contention for a playoff spot. On the other hand, their record clearly resembles that of a cellar dweller. Do they try and build it up, or begin to tear it down?
What makes Phoenix potential suitors for Evans is their activity last offseason. By signing Luis Scola and Goran Dragic, plus making a full-court press for Eric Gordon, they seem determined to continue building.
Furthermore, with only $44 million committed to next season and no ideal backcourt mate for Dragic, adding Evans seems to make sense. It may be an ill-advised move, seeing as how Tyreke might not put them over the top, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And judging the moves Phoenix made last offseason, now might be a time for desperation
2. Utah Jazz
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The Jazz seem to be an ideal fit for Tyreke Evans. For one, with only $17.8 million slotted for salaries next season, Utah figures to have the most cap space of any team. But secondly, it also has a personnel need at shooting guard.
The only guards under contract next season are Alec Burks and Kevin Murphy. Burks, who was the 12th pick in the 2011 draft, only averaged 17.8 minutes per game in 2012-13. Kevin Murphy’s even more familiar with the bench, averaging only 3.1 minutes per contest. Clearly, neither one looks ready to be a starter next year.
Signing Evans could give the Jazz a couple different options. His positional flexibility would give them an opportunity to bring in other players without worrying about displacing Evans.
Perhaps even more important is Tyreke’s youth. At 23 years old, he’s young enough to build around for the future. And considering the age of Utah’s other key pieces (Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward), it might be more deliberate in using its cap space and building up its roster.
But this much is clear: The Jazz need another guard, and they have more flexibility than any other team in signing who they want.
1. Sacramento Kings
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The Jazz may have more cap space than any other team. But the Kings have something else going for them that nobody else can boast: the power of incumbency.
With Tyreke being a restricted free agent, and with Sacramento being his incumbent team, it has the right to match any offer he receives.
Really, the only thing stopping the Kings from retaining Evans is a lack of desire to do so. They have enough cap space to bring him back without going over the luxury threshold, assuming he doesn’t get an astronomical offer. Yet they can also use their Bird rights to go above and beyond the salary cap if they want to keep Tyreke.
Sacramento could let Evans walk, depending on its desire to rebuild, or whether the Maloofs somehow retain the team and can’t afford to put any money into it. But right now, the Kings are the team most likely to snag him.
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