Ever since the Sacramento Kings decided they would allow Tyreke Evans to sign with the New Orleans Pelicans, unhappy fans have been voicing their displeasure.
The frustration is understandable. Evans brought with him hope. He brought with him promise. Despite the ‘regression’, we’ve seen what he can do first hand, multiple times. And to do all of that such as young age, you can’t help but think that proverbial corner will eventually be turned. But, promise is a dirty word – a word that can destroy a franchise. By giving in to Tyreke Evans’ contractual demands, the Sacramento Kings would have faced a very different offseason, something we’ll examine now.
The Sacramento Kings, as they sit have a $13 million cap hold because of Tyreke Evans (which will be removed when he signs with the Pelicans). The cap hold (also known as the ‘free agent amount’) is essentially a way to prevent teams from exploiting the loop hole of signing multiple free agents and then going over the salary cap to sign their own free agents of whom you hold the rights to. In simple terms, the NBA doesn’t want teams getting cute. It can happen, it’s just very rare and the NBA does what it can to prevent it.
Now, Evans wouldn’t be paid $13 million dollars for the upcoming season. The former Rookie of the Year had the option to take the Kings one year qualifying offer which would have paid him $7 million dollars, if he so inclined. Clearly, he had no interest in that so we’re going to assume that Evans, had he returned to Sacramento would have taken at minimum the same deal offered by the New Orleans Pelicans, four years, $44 million dollars. His first year contract should start at around $8.5-$9 million dollars, so if the Kings had re-signed Evans to that deal they’d have removed his cap hold and his (we’ll say $9 million to make it simple) contract would then go on the Kings books.
With Evans re-signed to the Kings, Sacramento’s cap number (assuming James Johnson, Toney Douglas and Cole Aldrich were renounced) would have jumped to around $53-$54 million dollars from it’s current spot , including the contracts of both King rookies. The NBA salary cap for the 2013-14 season is a touch over $58 million dollars, meaning the Kings would have about $5 million dollars (at best) left in free agency to spend, returning the same squad as last year sans the addition of Ben McLemore. Not exactly the “big” offseason many would have hoped for.
Were trades a possibility? Sure, but with what? It’s not as if the Kings are dripping in assets or had extra bodies to move.
Now, heartbreak and personal feelings aside, let’s look at things without Evans on the roster.
By clearing Evans’ contract and acquiring Greivis Vasquez in exchange, the Kings dropped their team salary to $46 million dollars – again – with Vasquez and the King rookies included. That means the Kings have $12 million dollars in cap space to spend, not $4-$5 million had they re-signed Evans.
Branching off from that, the available cap space allowed the Kings to sign Carl Landry to a deal that should pay him annually $6.5 million. How that contract is set up, we’re not sure so we’ll just say it’s an annual base of $6.5. Adding Landry’s salary to the books puts the Kings at $52.5 million. Now, that gives the Kings, give or take $5.5 million in cap space (it could be a touch more if Landry doesn’t make $6.5 this year) – with the addition of both Landry and Vasquez, mind you.
The addition of Landry shouldn’t be overlooked either as Carl allows the Kings to trade a valuable piece like Jason Thompson or Patrick Patterson for a much needed small forward or backup center, an asset the Kings wouldn’t have had they re-signed Evans as they wouldn’t have had the available funds nor would they have had a player who could replace their spot.
Now, the Kings sit with a valuable trade piece thanks to the Landry signing, a more traditional point guard and, again, give or take $5 to $6 million bucks in cap space (which could be increased if they decided to amnesty John Salmons). Compare that to re-signing Tyreke Evans, returning the same roster with limited cap flexibility and you have the difference on how the Kings’ offseason would have unfolded.
Granted, we don’t know how things will or would have worked out from a trade standpoint, with or without Evans, but clearly the Kings are more flexible for the future now and can tool the roster how they see fit.
Whether or not you think they’re a better team – that’s completely your call, though, I would stress letting the offseason play out as we’re just hitting the tip of the iceberg currently.
I’m not trying to convince anybody that the Evans move was smart or silly, just showing the difference on how it would have played out through free agency.