The New Orleans Pelicans signed restricted free agent Tyreke Evans away from the Sacramento Kings, who opted not to match a four-year, $44 million offer sheet.
Evans joins a talented backcourt in New Orleans and said he has embraced the idea of coming off the bench behind shooting guard Eric Gordon and point guard Jrue Holiday, who was acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers during the NBA draft last month. He’s also big enough to defend the small forward position if the Pelicans want to find a way to use all three in the starting lineup.
Holiday averaged 17.7 points and 8.0 assists per game last season in Philadelphia. Like Evans, Holiday is just 23 years old. Gordon is 24 and coming off of an injury-plagued season. He was traded to New Orleans in exchange for Chris Paul in 2011 and retained by the Pelicans last July, when the franchise matched a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from the Phoenix Suns.
The Kings had three days to decide whether to match deal and retain Evans, but quickly decided to let him walk, opting fora sign-and-trade deal that brought Greivis Vasquez.
General manager Dell Demps of the Pelicans met with Evans and his representatives shortly after free agency opened on July 1 in Los Angeles at the earliest allowable moment under NBA rules.
Evans, the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year, averaged 15.2 points last season for Sacramento and is a combo guard who can play with or without the ball.
The Kings took Kansas freshman shooting guard Ben McLemore with the seventh pick in last week’s NBA Draft.