Tyreke Evans finds stability, new role in NOLA
October 2, 2013
Tyreke Evans doesn’t seem like the type of player to complain much, but few would’ve blamed Evans for being disillusioned by what took place around him during his four seasons with the Sacramento Kings. From Day 1 of his NBA career, the Kings needed the lottery pick to carry their offensive attack, as the first or second option on a team that often had no chance to win unless he put up 20-plus points. On an ever-changing roster, Evans played with a whopping 42 different teammates. Meanwhile, the city of Sacramento was waging what seemed like an endless fight to keep the Kings – a battle it finally won in May, a month after Evans played his last game there.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder has already found the circumstances to be completely different in New Orleans, starting with the fact that he may no longer be a starter. The revamped Pelicans have enough talent that they’re planning to bring Evans off the bench for what would be a first in his NBA career. Evans also won’t be asked to shoulder the entire load offensively on a club that has four other players who averaged double digits in 2012-13.
“This is a different situation for me,” Evans said. “It’s better. Just knowing that we’ve got a group that’s willing to be with each other for a long time, I’m looking forward to playing with them.
“It’s more steady (in New Orleans). Sacramento, they just got things right out there, so that’s good for them. When I was there it was (a question about) whether we were going to move or stay. No one really knew what was going on.”
Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said his plan is to pair Evans in a reserve group with sharpshooting big men Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith. Anderson finished second in the NBA in three-pointers made last season, while Smith statistically was one of the league’s most accurate shooters from 18 to 20 feet.
“That was one of the things that we brought up with him before we signed him,” Williams said of Evans being one of New Orleans’ substitutes. “Was he good with coming off the bench? It’s never been an issue for him. He said he just wanted to be here. I think the idea of playing with Ryan and Jason in the second unit is probably exciting for him, because it should open up some alleys for him to get to the basket. But it’s also something we have to work out in camp, to make sure everybody’s on the same page.”
“(It would be) coming off the bench for the first time in my career,” said Evans, who made 247 starts for Sacramento. “But if that’s what they need and what the team wants me to do, it’s about the team first. It’s kind of open. I haven’t really heard a commitment. But we’re going to talk in training camp and find out what’s my role and my position on this team.”
The versatile Evans spent time at point guard, shooting guard and small forward with the Kings. Williams expects Evans to continue to fill multiple positions on a team that is trying to put all of its new pieces together during training camp.
“I think (he will play) all three, depending on who’s in the game with him,” Williams said. “I think he can play some point, and he certainly can play both wing spots. It just depends on who he’s playing with. I think Tyreke has to be on the floor with shooters, because it opens up the floor and he can do what he does best, which is attack the basket.”
The biggest thing Evans would like to accomplish is to play on a winning team for the first time since his one college season at the University of Memphis, when the Tigers went 33-4. He won more games that season than he has in any year as a pro – Sacramento’s best record with Evans was just 28-54.
“It’s not going to happen overnight, but I definitely think this year we have the talent and the team to go to the playoffs,” Evans said of the Pelicans. “This is a new beginning for me. I’ve been a winner all my life. When I came to Sacramento, it was kind of down for me. I’m definitely looking forward to winning games here.”