The Path Forward: Tyreke Evans and What Comes Next

Richard Heathcote

Hypothetical analysis of things that may come to pass, featuring Tyreke Evans!

Excel spreadsheets. I have an unnatural affinity for working with spreadsheets. At my job one of my duties involves significant use of such spreadsheets, and I volunteered for the position in large part due to that fact. I run my monthly budget on an excel spreadsheet even though my online banking probably has a feature that could do that work for me. I currently have a "Pelicans" spreadsheet saved to my desktop. Tab upon tab is filled with possibilities and salary cap ramifications. Signing Tyreke Evans? I already have six different scenarios that make that work saved.

Every one of those scenarios that I believe to be probable (not possible) involves trading Robin Lopez or waiving him on July 5th. Trading only Greivis Vasquez in a sign and trade (S&T throughout the rest of this article) does not create sufficient cap space and the difference between Vasquez's $2.150M and the expected $10.25-11M of Tyreke Evans is too great to work under the CBA. I highly encourage visiting Larry Coon's CBA FAQ site as nearly every question a fan could have is broken down in plain English. Here is the critical portion relating to trades and salaries coming and going for non-taxpaying teams.

Outgoing salary Maximum incoming salary
$0 to $9.8 million 150% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000
$9.8 million to $19.6 million The outgoing salary plus $5 million
$19.6 million and up 125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000

Vasquez's salary qualifies for the 150% plus $100k portion of that table. The maximum salary that trading Vasquez alone can bring in is $3.325M if the result puts New Orleans OVER the $58.5M salary cap. Attempting a S&T with only Vasquez being moved puts New Orleans at $61,226,899. Trading Vasquez in the S&T and waiving Lance Thomas, Terrel Harris, Brian Roberts, and Darius Miller puts New Orleans at $59,351,109. Still over the cap, as demonstrated below.

Age 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017
Eric Gordon 25 $14,283,844 $14,898,958 $15,514,031
Tyreke Evans 23 $10,250,000 $10,750,000 $11,250,000 $11,750,000
Jrue Holiday 23 $9,213,484 $9,904,495 $10,595,507 $11,286,518
Ryan Anderson 25 $8,308,500 $8,491,500 $8,500,000
Anthony Davis 20 $5,375,760 $5,607,240 $7,070,730
Robin Lopez 25 $5,119,761 $5,340,229
Jason Smith 27 $2,500,000
Austin Rivers 21 $2,339,040 $2,439,840 $3,110,796
Pierre Jackson 21 $490,180
Cap Hold $490,180
Cap Hold $490,180
Cap Hold $490,180
Total 23.3 $59,351,109 $57,432,262 $56,041,064 $23,036,518

How to Make Room

The most obvious choice from New Orleans perspective to move is Robin Lopez. Only $500k of his salary is guaranteed if he is waived by July 5th. It is also important to note that Lopez has a 15% trade kicker, pushing his salary up to $5.89 Million. Lopez is a relatively efficient player according to advanced stats on offense (18.9 PER last year, 82 games started) who is a liability on defense in space and a poor defensive rebounder for his position. Also, his offensive game is not the most attractive in the league as many Hornet fans can attest. Including Lopez in a S&T would be the ideal solution for Dell Demps but does not make a lick of sense for Sacramento. The new ownership group led by Vivek Ranadive called DeMarcus Cousins immediately after taking control of the team and coach Mike Malone stated Cousins should be the "cornerstone" of the franchise. Cousins and Lopez are both centers with little hope of being effective at PF or beside one another.

In terms of fit, Vasquez makes the most sense for Sacramento. It was even discussed by Doug Brockwell of Y! Sports on June 29th. But Lopez must still be moved as discussed in the chart and above. Where is less of a concern than what New Orleans receives in return, which ideally will consist of assets without current cost. Players stashed away internationally or draft picks chief among those options. I would expect Lopez could garner a couple second round picks from a team in need of some stability or depth at center.

For instance, the Utah Jazz could send their 2014 2nd and Brooklyn's 2015 2nd round picks for Lopez. The Jazz have tons of cap space and currently have not been in play for many high priced free agents. Also, with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors as their only big men under contract (both Millsap and Jefferson are free agents) this could give Utah the opportunity to be young and bad in the perfect year to be young and bad, the EPIC TANKING BATTLE FOR ANDREW WIGGINS. Utah has very little salary currently committed, even trading for Lopez and bringing over Rudy Gobert this season puts them at $36.2M with roughly $16M to spend to reach the salary floor. Charlotte would be another option where they could finally have a decent center on their roster yet be awful enough to remain in the Wiggins sweepstakes. If Demps moves both Vasquez in the S&T for Evans AND moves Lopez for picks or other assets without current cost, the salary situation breaks down as follows.

Age 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017
Eric Gordon 25 $14,283,844 $14,898,958 $15,514,031
Tyreke Evans 23 $10,250,000 $10,750,000 $11,250,000 $11,750,000
Jrue Holiday 23 $9,213,484 $9,904,495 $10,595,507 $11,286,518
Ryan Anderson 25 $8,308,500 $8,491,500 $8,500,000
Anthony Davis 20 $5,375,760 $5,607,240 $7,070,730
Jason Smith 27 $2,500,000
Austin Rivers 21 $2,339,040 $2,439,840 $3,110,796
Brian Roberts 28 $788,872
Darius Miller 23 $788,872
Cap Hold $490,180
Cap Hold $490,180
Cap Hold $490,180
Total 23.9 $55,318,912 $52,092,033 $56,041,064 $23,036,518

A shade under $3.2 Million in cap space before reaching the cap, so with cap holds a salary of just under $3.7 Million could be offered as the offer would replace the cap hold. The rumor is thus far that Gordon will stay on with the team.

Fit Matters

Obviously there are many people with concerns about how Holiday-Gordon-Evans works. According to Synergy Sports while Holiday shot 48.1% (26/54) on spot ups from 3pt land Gordon shot only 31.3% (20/64) and Evans shot only 36.8% (25/68). Even though there are three dangerous ball handlers on the floor Gordon and Evans do not command much respect off the ball and that can lead to a cramped half-court offense. Just ask the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals when San Antonio dared LeBron and Wade to beat them shooting jump shots.

Dell Demps and the Pelicans are going to need shooters to create space for those players to operate when two of them (or all three) are on the floor at once. A couple of options that I wrote about here have already agreed (which does not mean signed) to terms. Specifically Martell Webster with Washington and Chase Budinger with Minnesota.

Chris Copeland remains available. Dorell Wright is still available but may not be for long considering how quickly shooting wings J.J. Redick, Kevin Martin, Martell Webster, and Chase Budinger were all swept off the market. Kyle Korver is another option. Although rumored to the Nets the Pelicans can offer him significantly more money. Carlos Delfino is also on the market, a casualty of Houston clearing space for Dwight Howard. Denver may want to trade away Chandler (for Lopez?) to sign Iguodala. However, to create cap space for Chandler New Orleans would have to trade Eric Gordon away in a separate deal. Gordon is too expensive to be sent to Denver straight up for Chandler.

Sequence Matters

If Evans agrees to sign the offer sheet with New Orleans that does not mean much of anything. If, however, Evans SIGNS the offer sheet with New Orleans that will be an awful development. Once Evans signs the offer sheet he cannot be S&T'd by Sacramento. It puts the Kings and GM Pete D'Alessandro in the driver's seat. Remember Eric Gordon and the Phoenix saga last summer.

Thanks to that tweet things became more complicated for New Orleans to get Tyreke Evans. Sacramento does not have a lot of cap space to use, but they also hold Tyreke's bird rights. This allows Sacramento to ignore the salary cap all together to match any offer Evans receives in restricted free agency. At this time I have not read any reports of Sacramento being tied to another high dollar free agent. Matching New Orleans offer puts the Kings at $55.5 Million in salary after they sign their draft picks McLemore and McCallum. Comfortably over the salary floor without touching the salary cap. Even the following year it does not hamstring Sacramento from offering DeMarcus Cousins the full "mini-max" to lock him up.

Age 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017
Tyreke Evans 23 $10,250,000 $10,750,000 $11,250,000 $11,750,000
Marcus Thornton 26 $8,050,000 $8,575,000
John Salmons 33 $7,583,000 $7,000,000
Charles Hayes 30 $5,722,500 $5,958,750
Jason Thompson 26 $5,643,750 $6,037,500 $6,431,250
DeMarcus Cousins 23 $4,916,974
Patrick Patterson 24 $3,105,301
Travis Outlaw 28 $3,000,000 $3,000,000
Ben McLemore 20 $2,798,040 $2,923,920
Jimmer Fredette 24 $2,439,840 $3,110,796
Isaiah Thomas 24 $884,293
Aaron Brooks - Waived $674,194
Ray McCallum Jr. 22 $490,180
Total 25.3 $55,558,072 $47,355,966 $17,681,250 $11,750,000

There is, of course, one problem with all of that. It means Sacramento is bringing back, completely in tact, a dysfunctional roster with the hopes that Mike Malone (former New Orleans assistant) at head coach and the new ownership group can get everyone to behave themselves. Also the front office would then be placing the reportedly "naïve and impressionable" McLemore into a less than desirable situation at best. Pete D'Alessandro was introduced as Kings GM on June 18th and new GMs are notorious for being unloyal to players they did not bring into the fold. Obviously from ownership D'Alessandro is being directed that Cousins is the foundation of this roster. Trading Evans for Vasquez makes a lot of sense to develop a more professional attitude and change the culture within the organization. In addition the added cap space could be used to pursue another free agent or two to aid in the transition. For instance.

What it All Means

First, if the Pelicans truly believe that Evans coming to New Orleans is a possibility the clock is ticking. The July 5th deadline on waiving Robin Lopez is rapidly approaching. Lopez must be waived by that date unless Demps has a trade scenario worked out. Luckily for Pelican fans, step one is currently developing.

Second, the Pelicans cannot have Evans sign an offer sheet unless Sacramento intends not to match. Ideally a S&T will be in place so that Sacramento can receive some assets for Evans, sweetening the pot for the Kings.

[Update - Step Two in progress, Evans agreement completed, now to work out S&T]

Finally, if Evans is coming to New Orleans then Demps has even more work to do. The Pelicans need to upgrade the shooting on the roster to open up space for Holiday, Gordon, and Evans to operate effectively. In addition, trading or waiving Robin Lopez will create a hole in the roster for another big man to play the remainder of minutes not used by Anthony Davis (ideally 34-38 minutes this season), Ryan Anderson (ideally 30-34), or Jason Smith (ideally 18-22). So a big man capable of playing 8-14 minutes a game in the NBA.

How this will play out should become clearer in the next two days. The July 5th deadline for waiving Lopez (or a rumored/announced trade) or an agreement by Sacramento to S&T Evans will send an obvious message to how the process is progressing. The fireworks are about to begin.

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