Grading Huge Tyreke Evans Trade Between Pelicans, Blazers and Kings

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Grading Huge Tyreke Evans Trade Between Pelicans, Blazers and Kings
Cary Emondson-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing becomes official until the moratorium lifts on July 10, but Tyreke Evans is no longer royalty. In fact, it looks like he'll become a bird. 

A big three-team trade between the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers, as reported by the USA Today's Sam Amick, is sending the guard from Sacramento to New Orleans. 

At the end of the 2012-13 season, the Hornets featured Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon in the backcourt. Now they've changed their name and acquired both Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans to completely turn about the direction of the organization. 

The exchange will have lasting ramifications on all three teams, so let's start handing out some grades.

 

New Orleans Pelicans

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Gave Up: Greivis Vasquez, Robin Lopez, Terrel Harris

Received: Tyreke Evans, Jeff Withey

 

Everything about this trade was positive for the New Orleans Pelicans. 

After dealing Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jrue Holiday, an All-Star point guard who would be guaranteed big minutes on just about any team, general manager Dell Demps knew that Greivis Vasquez was expendable. 

Although the former Maryland Terrapin enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2012-13, averaging 9.0 assists per game and leading the entire NBA in total dimes, he simply isn't as talented as Holiday. The new point guard in the bayou is a much more well-rounded player who promotes more team success, even if he racks up slightly fewer assists. 

Vasquez was capable of playing shooting guard, but his minutes would have been severely limited by the presences of Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers. He simply had more value as a trade chip than a member of the New Orleans franchise. 

So, Demps quickly cut ties with both him and Robin Lopez. The latter is a quietly efficient player, a solid defender who plays productive minutes on offense but doesn't do much to get noticed. How many people actually realize that the Stanford product posted an 18.9 PER during the 2012-13 season?

You'd never want to write home about Lopez, but he's a valuable asset on most teams. And yet, his value was likewise diminished in NOLA because Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis both need minutes, especially the latter now that he's no longer a rookie. 

As for Terrel Harris, he's just a throw-in. 

The third-year shooting guard was beyond awful during his short stint with "Hornets" plastered across his jersey. He shot 10.5 percent from the field, had 13 turnovers and only seven assists and posted a minus-6.8 PER. 

Yes, PERs can be negative. Harris proved it.

In return for these three players—two valuable, one not so much—the Pelicans received a quality big man, one who can function as a shot-blocking presence as a rookie, and a standout guard. 

Jeff Withey is the rare prospect picked late in the draft who can contribute during his first season, but he's not the prize of this trade. That would be Tyreke Evans. 

Drafted as a point guard, Evans has been shifted around in the lineup ever since, playing some shooting guard and small forward for the Sacramento Kings. However, held back by the toxic environment in Sac-Town, he was never able to take steps forward after a stellar rookie season. 

How would you grade this trade for the Pelicans?

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Could a breakout be in store now that he's changed locations? The Pelicans sure hope so. 

But even if his level of production remains stagnant, New Orleans landed themselves a great player. His ball-handling skills, slashing abilities and size will allow him to line up either next to or in place of Gordon, and his presence could force the team to deal the true 2-guard for a natural small forward. 

Evans is one of the better guards in the NBA, even if the Kings often did their best to stifle his talents. If he can improve his impotent jumper, he'll form a terrific one-two punch with Holiday, but he'll remain successful next to the All-Star even if that isn't the case. 

Grade: A

 

Portland Trail Blazers

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Gave Up: Jeff Withey, second-round picks in 2014 and 2016/2018

Received: Robin Lopez, Terrel Harris

 

It's fairly established that the Portland Trail Blazers needed two things this offseason: depth across the board and a big man to replace J.J. Hickson. They started to fix the former hole by drafting C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe to shore up the backcourt, and now they're embarking on the latter quest. 

Robin Lopez isn't a long-term solution at the 5, but he's a great temporary one while the Blazers continue to develop Meyers Leonard. 

More than anything else, Portland needed defense from the center spot. LaMarcus Aldridge carried too much of a defensive burden during the 2012-13 season, and it affected the other areas of his game. 

Lopez isn't a particularly great defender, but he's at least a solid one. According to 82games.com, the center allowed opposing bigs to post a 17.8 PER against him during the 2012-13 season. Part of that stemmed from his need to rotate and help once the porous backcourt allowed penetration, but Lopez still isn't a standout defender. 

Unless Rip City is viewing him as a starting center for a long time, though, it's still a quality way to provide a stopgap at the position. Lopez will play within himself on offense, and he won't hurt the team defensively. 

More relevant perhaps is what the Blazers gave up: not much. 

Jeff Withey isn't going to develop into anything more than a role player, and his ceiling is about where Lopez sits right now. It's a ceiling he's not even guaranteed to reach. As for the draft picks, they aren't particularly valuable. 

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According to my projection system, the No. 31 pick in the draft is expected to earn just 4.68 win shares over the first four years of his career. And the Blazers aren't going to be picking at the forefront of the second round. A pick between No. 40 and No. 50 is more realistic. 

The same projection system says that a No. 40 pick should earn 3.14 win shares during the first four seasons of a career. So combined, in what essentially amounts to a worst-case scenario, the Blazers would be sacrificing 6.28 win shares over an eight-year period. 

Lopez earned 5.6 by himself last season. 

Grade: B+

 

Sacramento Kings

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Gave Up: Tyreke Evans

Received: Greivis Vasquez, second-round picks in 2014 and 2016/2018

 

The Sacramento Kings managed to unclutter their backcourt by...trading for another guard? So scratch the unclutter part. 

Sacramento now boasts Isaiah Thomas, Greivis Vasquez and Ray McCallum at point guard, while Ben McLemore, Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette make up the shooting guard rotation. That's a crowded backcourt, even if Tyreke Evans is no longer a part of it. 

Thomas, Vasquez, McLemore and Thornton all deserve quite a bit of playing time, but there are only so many minutes that can be doled out. Fortunately, the two primary point guards have different roles. 

While Vasquez is definitely a pass-first facilitator, Thomas is more of a score-first floor general. He averaged 13.9 points and 4.0 assists per game after producing 11.5 and 4.1 as a rookie out of Washington. They complement each other nicely, but it'll be tough for them to both spend time on the court together given the quality of the 2-guards. 

As for the two picks that the Kings received, they'll be nice if Sacramento can unearth some second-round gems, but as indicated in the Portland section, they aren't all that valuable. 

How would you grade this trade for the Kings?

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Now, you might be wondering, "How does this all matter? The Kings essentially got something for nothing because Evans was a free agent?"

Unfortunately, that's not quite true. As the Memphis product was a restricted free agent, Sacramento had the ability to match the four-year, $44 million offer sheet and bring Evans back onto the roster. It wasn't quite nothing that the Kings gave up here, even if they did get something in return. 

It's a solid haul, but the Kings can't be the winners here, as both New Orleans and Portland did a better job helping out their franchises. 

Grade: B-

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