The rules for trading a restricted free agent have some people confused. Some people believe you can’t work a sign-and-trade for a restricted free agent.
From Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ, we have this among the criteria for sign-and-trades, which helps explain the confusion: “The player cannot be a restricted free agent who has signed an offer sheet with another team.” And then: “A sign-and-trade deal can be made with a free agent who has been renounced, as long as all the above criteria are met.”
That specification implies that if the player has not signed an offer sheet with another team and is renounced, then the player can be moved in a sign-and-trade.
In other words, a team can renounce its rights to the free agent and then deal him in a sign-and-trade as long as he doesn’t sign an offer sheet.
Even if it has extended him a qualifying offer already, it can pull it up until July 23, and even later with the player’s consent.
This is all relevant when discussing the possibility of working a sign-and-trade for Tyreke Evans because we first need to validate that by rule, it can be done, and it can be.
Evans is probably going to sign in the neighborhood of a four-year, $40 million deal, which would be sufficient for the Bulls in a sign-and-trade.
Should it be done though?
Evans is a 6’6” combo guard/wing who has never seemed to quite find his role in Sacramento despite having won the Rookie of the Year award in 2009-10.
He has career averages of around 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. His overall production declined last year, but his per-36 numbers are about the same as they’ve been the last two seasons, and his PER of 18.1 was actually close to what it was in his rookie campaign when it was 18.2.
His problem is that in Sacramento, the Kings have too many guards, including Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton and Toney Douglas. They also have a weakness at small forward, to the point they tried Evans there for a time this year.
The deal actually would make a lot of sense from the Kings' perspective, as it would give them the kind of veteran leader they desperately need. The kind of impact a player like Deng would have on a player like DeMarcus Cousins can’t be measured in stats or dollars.
It would also give them a pure small forward and an elite defender who can still score. He’d have the size to compensate for the relatively diminutive Thomas and Thornton. Deng could fit in well with the Kings. Dealing from a position of strength to fill a weakness is what you want to do with a trade, and it’s something the Kings would do.
Would it work for the Bulls though?
In a lot of ways it would. Evans and Derrick Rose sharing a backcourt together would give them as much offensive firepower as any in the league. Part of the dynamic is that both are excellent passers and rebounders, meaning that either could play off of the other.
Since Evans came into the league, there are only seven other players who have averaged 17.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.8 rebounds (the lows for both Rose and Evans). That would be quite a partnership formed by the former Memphis Tigers.
It would not be without weaknesses though.
Most notably, the Bulls would have a backcourt deficient in three-point shooting. Rose is .310 from deep and Evans is just .276. However Rose is .326 in his last two years and Evans was a much improved .338 last season.
The Bulls were already 29th in three-pointers made in the league last season.
They are also likely to lose Nate Robinson, their best three-point shooter from last season, and Marco Belinelli, their second-best shooter from last year. Deng was third.
Losing their top three snipers isn’t good for a team already deficient in them, and neither Rose (unless all that shooting during rehab pays off) nor Evans is a likely replacement. It’s a hole that can be filled through other means, but it’s one worth noting.
Jimmy Butler could fill in at the small forward spot, and last year he did so capably, even against LeBron James during the postseason.
If they do this, the Bulls are missing something in terms of depth, and the question becomes where do they find the minutes to relieve Butler and Evans? They could bring Ronnie Brewer and/or Kyle Korver back.
Evans has also been defensively below-average, but he’s been on a below-average defensive team. He is big enough and athletic enough that he should take to Thibodeau’s system, though it will take a few months for him to figure things out.
Provided the Bulls can find another wing who can get reasonable minutes and a player who can knock down threes, Evans could be a workable solution.