The Rumor: Everybody wants Tyreke Evans. According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Sixers are interested in trading for the Grizzlies wing, and reports from Sporting News and Philly.com have the Thunder, Cavs, Heat, Rockets, and Celtics in the mix. Memphis is reportedly asking for a first-round pick in exchange for Evans. [Insert laughing GIF here.]
The Legitimacy: At 18–31, the Grizzlies need to further their rebuilding journey, and it makes sense to start selling valuable parts for assets ahead of the February 8 trade deadline. Ignoring Marc Gasol and the out-for-the-season Mike Conley for a moment, Evans has become the team’s most valuable trade chip. Evan’s ninth year is mirroring his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2010, when he averaged more than 20 points a game for Sacramento. In the near-decade since, Evans has modernized his game, shooting nearly 40 percent from deep on 5.4 attempts a game. In the 2009–10 season, he didn’t crack 30 percent.
Evans is also shooting 45.8 percent from the field — his highest mark since the 2012–13 season — and posting a career-high 52.6 effective field goal percentage, which blows his previous numbers out of the water. For teams that need scoring, it’s hard to look at the first half of Evans’s season without wanting him to come off the bench and put up 20 or more on any given night. Plus, even if Evans does regress back to his mediocre mean, he’s on an expiring deal, anyway. That’s all to say: These rumors are legit, and though I don’t think Evans is worth the first-round pick the Grizzlies are asking for, I’d be shocked if Evans doesn’t end up getting moved.
Which Team Is the Best Fit? God bless the NBA for giving us a world where every contender trying to beat the Warriors wants to add Tyreke freakin’ Evans as a difference-maker. While I’m here for the resurrection of his career, I’m not sure where he would move the needle. The Thunder sans Andre Roberson and Cavaliers sans Kevin Love both badly need wing help, but they need it more so in their starting unit than on their bench. In both cases, their desperate need for defense on the perimeter — a weakness for Evans — might outweigh their desire for more offense. Plus, I can already visualize LeBron James and/or Russell Westbrook getting mad at Evans after he takes an ill-advised shot.
For the Celtics and the Rockets, Evans feels more like a luxury, but one that when added to their already strong core could help them in a series against the Warriors. And for the Heat and the Sixers, the latter of which reportedly tried to sign him this offseason, the addition would bolster their attempt to remain in the playoff race.
Personally, I think adding Evans to the already-incendiary crop of 3-point shooters the Rockets have would be exhilarating, like watching Daryl Morey channel Dom Toretto hitting the NOS on his Dodge Charger in the first Fast & Furious movie. Sign me up.