Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans. (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
Sam Amick, USA Today Sports
SACRAMENTO - The Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers have a verbal agreement on a deal that will send restricted free agent Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans, point guard Greivis Vasquez to the Kings and center Robin Lopez to the Portland Trail Blazers, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The Kings get at least one second-round pick from Portland in the trade, though an ESPN.com report indicated it would be two. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the trade can't be formalized until July 10.
Evans gave the New Orleans Pelicans a verbal agreement on Wednesday that he would sign their four-year, $44 million offer sheet, but the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year was in waiting while his soon-to-be former team deliberated on how to avoid losing him for nothing in return rather than matching the offer.
Because the Pelicans recently traded for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday from the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that can't be formalized until July 10, Vasquez - who was a Most Improved Player candidate last season - is far more expendable than before.
Yet the Kings didn't decide to finalize this deal until they missed out on free agent point guard Jose Calderon, who declined an offer to play for them mid-day Thursday.
"They showed him a great vision, made a great offer, but the timing wasn't right," Calderon's agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, told USA TODAY Sports.
This trade likely indicates that New Orleans shooting guard Eric Gordon is staying put as well, as it frees up the logjam of guards that the Pelicans have had on their roster. The Pelicans have been open to trading Gordon, but were unable to find deals that they deemed worthy of his value.
Gordon made it widely known last summer that he did not want to be in New Orleans at that time, signing an offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns for a maximum salary contract when he was a restricted free agent only to have the then-Hornets match it against his wishes. But with the Pelicans putting together a far more competitive core and Gordon expected to be fully healthy after playing just 42 games last season because of knee problems, both sides have reason for optimism about the partnership.
With the Kings under new ownership and with a new general manager in former Denver Nuggets executive Pete D'Alessandro, Evans had been hopeful that the new management team would show more of a desire to keep him in town.
But they instead pursued free agent small forward Andre Iguodala in what led to a bizarre and brief courting. Iguodala was given a four-year offer for $52 million by the Kings, but the offer was rescinded late Tuesday night when he didn't give an answer quickly enough for their liking. While there have been no known discussions between the Kings and Iguodala since, it remains possible that the talks could be revived and the offer re-submitted if Iguodala is unable to find a better deal elsewhere and the Kings have yet to make a move that would preclude it.
The Kings went 28-54 last season, with Evans averaging 15.2 points per game, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while the uncertainty about how he would be used continued. It was all part of a decline that has certainly worn on Evans, who was dynamic in his debut campaign as a point guard but later played shooting guard and small forward.
Yet the Pelicans see him as a versatile threat who would take their young core to the next level. New Orleans, which was 27-55 last season, has Gordon as a major threat at shooting guard and 2012 No. 1 pick Anthony Davis down low with stretch forward Ryan Anderson.
The Blazers, meanwhile, landed a capable big man in Lopez who is owed a combined $14.4 million for the next two seasons. The Pelicans would have had to waive him if he wasn't traded, as they needed the salary cap space for the Holiday trade and Lopez's contract is only protected for $500,000 if he gets waived by Friday.
Portland had been on the lookout for a veteran center since offering Indiana Pacers big man Roy Hibbert a maximum salary contract a year ago (the Pacers matched the offer and retained him), and Lopez will fit nicely with forward LaMarcus Aldridge and young center Meyers Leonard. The Blazers, with reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard at the helm, were 33-49 last season.