Evans: No problem at small forward with Pelicans
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Tyreke Evans is hardly bothered by the on-court uncertainty accompanying his arrival in New Orleans.
At this point, no one can really say how much for the former NBA rookie of the year will play at either small forward, shooting guard or point guard for the Pelicans — only that he’ll probably take turns playing all three.
For his part, the 6-foot-6 Evans, who visited Pelicans headquarters Thursday, said he has “no problem at all” playing extended minutes on the wing instead of his usual guard spot, if that’s what coach Monty Williams needs. Evans said he was ready for a fresh start after spending his first four NBA seasons on losing teams in Sacramento, and said he was eager to join New Orleans’ core of young, up-and-coming players, including his old friend from AAU basketball, point-guard Jrue Holiday.
“I made a new start in my life in New Orleans, so I’m happy to be here and excited to get started with the new players, a good group of guys, all young guys,” Evans said. “I’m looking forward to playing with those guys.”
Williams, meanwhile, found it refreshing to receive a talented young player who made it clear he wanted to be in New Orleans — the opposite of the coach’s experience with Chris Paul, whose desire to be traded two years ago started a rebuilding project in the Big Easy that is now picking up steam.
“It’s always important that we not only bring in talent like Tyreke, but we also have somebody that wants to be here,” Williams said. “That’s something that’s paramount for me as a coach.”
Evans joined New Orleans as part of a three-team trade also involving Portland. The deal was effectively consummated on July 4 but not made official under NBA rules until Wednesday.
Evans was going to be a restricted free agent with the Kings, who dealt him in what was technically a sign-and-trade. A person familiar with the deal has told The Associated Press that Evans’ contract pays $44 million over four years. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not released Evans’ contract terms.
While Evans seems most suited to playing shooting guard, he does have experience both at point guard and small forward. He averaged 20.1 points in his rookie season, but his scoring average has dropped slightly each year since, down to 15.2 last season.
In New Orleans, Evans joins a club that already has a starting back court of Holiday and Eric Gordon. Holiday was an Eastern Conference All-Star with Philadelphia last season, and acquired during this year’s draft in a trade that sent sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel and a protected 2014 first-round pick to the 76ers. Gordon has had trouble staying healthy — playing in only 51 games the past two seasons — but has been New Orleans’ leading scorer when available.
When asked how he might fit in best with the Pelicans, Evans conceded, “I don’t know yet. It’s a new process. We’ve got a good guard lineup, so I’m just looking forward to going out there and playing.”
Williams said Evans will be fine playing on the wing on offense, but that the team will have to work on preventing Evans from getting caught in too many height mismatches on the defensive end. Of most concern to Williams was in late-clock situations, when a small forward sometimes has to switch to guard a power forward.
“I think the offensive side, guys just figure it out,” Williams said. “Defensively, that’s where I’m more concerned, where you have to switch in situations, guarding bigger guys.”
Offensively, Williams expects the addition of Evans and Holiday to allow the Hornets to push the ball more in transition, and count on more scoring.
The Pelicans also expect scoring from 2012 top overall pick Anthony Davis, as well as sharp-shooting 6-10 forward Ryan Anderson.
Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said he is pleased with the club’s core of what he called “young veterans,” players who’ve had significant playing time in the NBA but are still in their early to mid-20s.
“They’ve already been bumped and beaten and hit,” as they learned the pro game, Demps explained. “So now is their time to shine.”