In the first few days of free agency, the Sacramento Kings have been in the NBA headlines. No, they aren’t chasing Dwight Howard or Josh Smith, but they are in a fight to keep Tyreke Evans, who is sitting on a four year/$44 million offer from the New Orleans Pelicans. And after taking the lead in the Andre Iguodala sweepstakes last night, they pulled out of the race just hours later.
In a perfect world, most Kings fans would have loved for Sacramento to sign both Evans and Iguodala, but that would have been a difficult task under the salary cap. And there is still the possibility that they wind up with neither.
While the deal with Iguodala seems dead, it is still fresh enough a wound to ask the question: if you had a choice between retaining Tyreke Evans or bringing in Iguodala, who would you choose?
Here is a quick look at the two players in question.
At 23-years-old, the multi-dimensional former NBA Rookie of the Year still has huge upside. After his breakout 20-5-5 season to begin his career, much to the chagrin of the Kings, Evans has statistically plateaued, averaging 17.3, 17.3 and 17.6 points per 36 minutes over the last three seasons. His rebounding and assist numbers have similarly leveled out, leading many to believe he has regressed as a player.
But he hasn’t regressed. In fact, Evans is a much better defender now than he was when he came into the league and has the potential to improve even further. He can also guard and play three different positions. While the big knock on Evans has always been his suspect jump shot, Tyreke shot a career-high 47.8 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from long range last season. His true-shooting percentage of 55.8 percent was second amongst the Kings’ starters and again, the highest of his four-year career.
The Kings drafted Ben McLemore and still have Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette on the roster, so the team doesn’t need him back as a shooting guard next season. Evans will have to transition back to the point guard position or move to small forward to fit back into the Kings’ plans.
Evans is six years younger and will cost the Kings approximately $10 million less over a four year period than Iguodala would have and the argument could be made that he still has a substantial potential.
Iguodala is a dying breed of players. A defensive-minded wing who can pass, rebound and shoot, the former All-Star is about as balanced a talent as you are going to find. His days of scoring 18 or 19 points a game are over, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a weapon.
For most of his career, Iguodala played above the rim, and he still does at times, but at 29-years old, he is a more calculated player. Over his nine-year career, he has missed a total of 25 games, making him an iron man of sorts in the new NBA game.
While Iguodala can play multiple positions, his true value in this market is at small forward, a position the Kings are dying to fill. Last season in Denver, Iguodala posted the lowest PER (player efficiency rating) of his career of 15.2 and averaged just 13.4 points per 36 minutes. He struggled to find his niche on the offensive end for a very good Nuggets team.
The Kings need veteran leadership and stability at the wing. Iguodala would fit perfectly with Michael Malone’s defense-first mentality. But a four-year/$56 million deal is a lot to pay for a third or fourth option and at 29, there is no guarantee that his numbers won’t continue to slide.