Tyreke Evans, the 2010 Rookie of the year, was not offered a contract extension at the October 31st deadline like other members of his draft class - James Harden, Ty Lawson, Steph Curry and Jrue Holiday. WTF happened? Should Dwyane Wade recruit him to the Miami HEAT or will he end up with Derrick Rose and the Bulls in Chicago?
Evans is only the third Rookie of the Year that wasn't offered a contract extension since the NBA went to rookie scale contracts for the 1996 draft. The only other Rookie of the Year winners that got a qualifying offer after their contract expired instead of an extension were Elton Brand and Emeka Okafor (see the spreadsheet below).
Brand wasn't offered an extension because he played for the notoriously cheap Clippers. Okafor wasn't offered an extension because he played for the notoriously cheap Bobcats. And Tyreke Evans plays for a team the owners want to move and the NBA Commissioner wants sold.
Evans' production has declined since his rookie season, but he was injured his second season and his third season was played with a compressed schedule due to the lockout.
Evans Win Score per 48 Minutes in his career
- 2010: 5.2
- 2011: 2.5
- 2012: 4.1
- Career: 4.0
- Avg SG in HEAT games: 4.3
If you throw out the season Evans was bothered by plantar fasciitis in 2011, then his career WS48 is above average for the HEAT. He's also only 23 years old entering the prime of his athletic career and has never had the benefit of working with a coaching staff as good as Erik Spoelstra's. With Dwyane Wade's mentoring, Evans could flourish coming off the bench and running with LeBron James at the end of the 1st and 3rd quarters when Wade rests. He's just the kind of young talent the HEAT need to sustain a dynasty capable of winning 8 championships.
The question is, "How can the HEAT sign Evans?"
What the Shadow GM Must Do
Evans can only become a member of the HEAT if Wade is onboard with the decision. If the Shadow GM signs off, then here are the steps to get him to American Airlines Arena...
1. The Kings must make Evans a qualifying offer by June 30th, 2013. The qualifying offer is a 1-year deal that makes Evans a restricted free agent and gives the Kings the right to match any offer he receives from another franchise. Unless Evans has a terrible season, it's reasonable to think the Kings will want to retain the option to sign Evans to a contract.
2. Evans must accept the 1-year qualifying offer from the Kings. The HEAT won't be able to make a competitive offer to Evans next offseason because other teams will sign present offer sheets worth more than the mid-level exception money the HEAT will have to offer. So the HEAT need Evans to stay with the Kings until 2014 when Wade, LeBron and Chris Bosh can opt out of their contracts. If the 3 Kings opt-out, then the HEAT will only have Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Norris Cole under contract and could hav an estimated $52 million in cap room. The 3 Kings can take discounts on new contracts with the HEAT and leave room to sign Tyreke Evans, who would be an unrestricted free agent.
Wade must convince Evans to take that 1-year qualifying offer and also convince LeBron and Bosh to opt-out and take less money when they re-sign. If he got them to take less money without winning any titles in 2010, then it should be easier after a three-peat in 2014. If Tyreke Evans wants to leave behind the losing he experienced in Sacramento and experience what it's like to play for a champion, then he'll make the same sacrifice and ride out a 5th year with the Kings while his eyes are on the prize.
If the HEAT don't go after Evans then one of their competitors in the Eastern conference will. Below is a list of the teams with the 10 lowest scoring averages per 48 minutes at SG last season.
- Cavaliers: Drafted Dion Waiters
- Timberwolves: Signed Brandon Roy
- Knicks: No cap room to pursue restricted free agents in 2013
- Bulls: Would have to use the amnesty provision for enough cap room to pursue restricted free agents in 2013, can pursue them without using the amnesty in 2014
- Bucks: Traded for Monta Ellis but he can opt to become a free agent in 2013, either way they have cap room to pursue restricted free agents in 2013
- Celtics: Traded for Courtney Lee and signed Jason Terry
- Hornets: Signed Eric Gordon to a max contract
- 76ers: Traded for Jason Richardson and signed Nick Young, won't have cap room to pursue restricted free agents in 2013 if they re-sign Andrew Bynum
- Bobcats: Traded for Ben Gordon but will have cap room to pursue restricted free agents in 2013
- Magic: Won't have the cap room to pursue restricted free agents in 2013 without making a trade to reduce player salaries
The Bulls, Bucks and Bobcats would be the biggest threats to sign Evans in free agency. The Bobcats wouldn't pose much of a threat to the HEAT with Evans, the Bucks could be a tough 1st round matchup and the Bulls could be a tough opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals if they finally had someone to match Wade in the backcourt and prevent the HEAT defense from focusing all of its efforts on Rose.
Can you imagine the HEAT trying to guard these handles in the backcourt with D. Rose?
The HEAT play the Kings in Sacramento on January 12th. Keep an eye on the interaction between Wade and Evans before tip-off and after the game is over. You might see the Shadow GM laying the foundation for the future.