NBA Rumors: Latest Gossip on Tyreke Evans and More Ahead of 2018 Trade Deadline

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 7, 2018

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans (12) plays in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Some NBA trade deadline deals have altered the course of league history.

Power forward Rasheed Wallace landed with the Detroit Pistons in 2004, and that helped catapult the team to an upset victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Pau Gasol went from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2008, and he was the key second piece on an L.A. team that made the NBA Finals between 2008 and 2010, winning the latter two.

Other transactions are just plain weird, like this one Shaun Powell of NBA.com described in which players traded prior to the deadline actually played for different teams in the same game (yes, you read that sentence correctly).

We'll see if any deadline deals have the potential to have a Gasol- or Wallace-like impact (doubtful we see players play in the same game for different teams, though). Until then, here's a look at three rumors surrounding a few combo guards.

                                   

Tyreke Evans to Denver, Philadelphia or Miami?

Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams is signing a three-year contract extension, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, which should be music to the Memphis Grizzlies' ears.

Williams was a coveted player on the trade block prior to the reported extension, but with him out of the mix, teams clamoring for a combo scoring guard should focus much of their attention on Tyreke Evans of the Grizzlies, which could lead to more offers.

According to Wojnarowski, four teams are looking to land the nine-year veteran:

Evans is a stat stuffer who averages 19.0 points, 5.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game. He also has improved his three-point shooting this year, as the 28-year-old is knocking down a career-best 39.2 percent of his shots from downtown. Notably, Evans is accomplishing that feat while taking a career-high 5.4 three-point attempts per game.

He would be a good fit on any of the teams Wojnarowski mentioned.

The Denver Nuggets are on a roll (six wins in their last eight games) and are only 4.5 games back of the third spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets could use a scoring guard off the bench who can provide some offense for the second unit. Right now, they don't have that asset, as the team's best backcourt scorers—Jamal Murray, Will Barton and Gary Harris—are all in the starting lineup after Barton moved off the bench.

Likewise, the Philadelphia 76ers need more offensive help off the bench as well. Their five starters all average between 12.1 and 23.7 points per game, but no bench player pitches in more than 8.1 points per contest. Evans can come in as the team's sixth man and instantly give the team a jolt off the bench.

The Heat are one of the league's strongest defensive teams (seventh in defensive efficiency, per ESPN), but they are just 25th on the offensive end. That's in part due to field goal and three-point percentages that rank in the bottom half of the league.

Like Denver and Philadelphia, Miami is in the bottom half of its conference playoff field and looking to improve its standing—and avoid falling out entirely—as the season closes. Evans would certainly help keep the Heat, who have lost their last four games and have fallen to seventh in the East, in the playoff race.

However, the most interesting destination may be the Boston Celtics, who are the final team on Wojnarowski's list. That potential deal is connected to one with Boston guard Marcus Smart, who is discussed below.

                                        

Tyreke Evans Replacing Marcus Smart in Boston?

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times, the Celtics are looking to move Smart for a first-round pick, which in turn would be used to acquire Evans or Williams:

With Williams potentially being taken off the trading block, that could lead to the C's focusing on Evans, who would be a great fit for them off the bench.

Boston is holding onto a slim one-game lead in the Eastern Conference over the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics are an excellent defensive team and have one of the most well-rounded and exciting starting fives in the league, but they could use some more scoring help.

Terry Rozier has proven capable of doing so in the midst of filling in for point guard Kyrie Irving at times, and Smart is averaging 10.1 points per game, but neither player is an efficient scorer. For the year, Rozier is making just 39.6 percent of his field goals, while Smart is hitting just 35.7 percent of his shots.

Smart brings fantastic versatility and defensive intensity to the C's, as he's capable of guarding any position on the floor outside of center. However, a player like Evans could be a better fit for a team that could use another outside shooter.

There's also this contract caveat, per Zach Lowe of ESPN: "Smart will enter free agency after extension talks with Boston fizzled, and depending on a few variables, paying him could take the Celtics into the tax. Things get hairier when Kyrie Irving's inevitable new max deal kicks in after next season."

Lowe went on to say that Smart is "one of the few guys who might plausibly net a first-rounder."

If Boston can pull these two moves off, then Evans would instantly make the C's the clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference. He could be the missing link on a team that needs a top scorer after Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury on opening night.

              

Will Oklahoma City Land Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley?

According to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, the Oklahoma City Thunder have "expressed interest" in Smart, although O'Connor also confirms that the Celtics are looking for a first-rounder.

O'Connor also went on to report that "Avery Bradley’s name keeps popping up as a top target for the Thunder."

The Thunder need more backcourt depth after starting shooting guard Andre Roberson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon. Even with Roberson (who excels on the defensive end) in the mix, the team could have used another guard, particularly one who could score.

Smart isn't an efficient scorer as noted before, but he still averages 10.1 points per game, a mark that would make him the Thunder's top scoring reserve if he came off the bench. More importantly, he could help fill the defensive void left after Roberson suffered his season-ending injury. Per ESPN, Smart has a defensive real-plus minus of 0.57, which ranks 10th among all guards averaging 30 or more minutes per game.

After a successful seven-year stint with the Boston Celtics, Bradley has struggled this season. He is making just 41.3 percent of his field goals (compared to 46.3 percent last year), and his three-point percentage has also taken a dip from 39.0 to 37.4 percent.

However, an even bigger concern may lie on the defensive end, as the former Texas Longhorn is just 81st among shooting guards in defensive real plus-minus, per ESPN.

Although this has been a tough year for Bradley, he's only one season removed from an impressive 2016-17 campaign in which he posted 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He's only 27 years old and can be a key asset for a team looking to make a deep playoff run.

With the Western Conference bunched up (the teams between fifth and ninth place all have 24 or 25 losses) and the Thunder leading that pack with a 31-24 record, they could certainly use more reinforcements to help solidify their standing.

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