Kings prepared to lose sleeper RFA Tyreke Evans
However, Evans' production has declined steadily since his sensational rookie season. Since averaging 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds in 2009-10, Evans has seen a decrease in those categories each year. Injuries have been part of the problem for Evans (has missed 15.0 games per season over the past three campaigns), as well as mind-boggling lineup decisions by recently replaced head coach Keith Smart (Evans averaged a career-low 31.0 minutes per game last season). The overall production, however, has still not been improving. Evans has never been able to top the per 36 minute averages in points, assists, rebounds, or free throw attempts that he posted as a rookie.
The Kings may soon be forced to make a decision regarding their non-progressing guard, as Evans is a restricted free agent this summer. The team has already extended the $6.9 million qualifying offer to Evans, which means that they can match any offer he receives. If Evans does not receive any offer sheets, he will remain in Sacramento with that $6.9 million salary, and be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The tricky part will come into play for the Kings if Evans receives an offer sheet. This is a player who once averaged over 20 points per game, stands at 6'6'' with exceptional ball handling ability, and is still only 23 years old. The kid has all the tools, which is likely to create interest from other teams. If a head coach or GM feels that he could turn Evans back into the 20-6-5 machine that he was as a rookie, a team very well may send an offer sheet his way, presenting the Kings with a tough decision.
According to Sacramento radio host Carmichael Dave, the Kings will not be willing to match any offers for Evans, and are prepared to lose him. Dave has been a reliable source for Kings news in the past, so his opinion is worth noting.
If the Kings do let Evans get away, it will leave yet another whole in their roster. The Kings can already target any position outside of center (which DeMarcus Cousins has on lockdown) in Thursday night's NBA Draft, and if they feel that they are going to lose Evans, a player on the wing will become one of their top priorities.
Evans' unique talent makes this a story worth following, and we could see some foreshadowing on Thursday night. I have point guard Trey Burke going to the Kings in my latest mock draft, but if Sacramento selects a wing with the seventh overall pick, it could be a sign that they expect Evans to be playing elsewhere next season.