Report: Pelicans’ Gordon, Evans on trading block

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--New Orleans Pelicans point guard Tyreke Evans (1) loses the ball under his basket to Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) as the New Orleans Pelicans play the Golden State Warriors  in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. ORG XMIT: LABAT
Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--New Orleans Pelicans point guard Tyreke Evans (1) loses the ball under his basket to Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) as the New Orleans Pelicans play the Golden State Warriors in New Orleans, La. Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. ORG XMIT: LABAT

As the New Orleans Pelicans readied to play at the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, internet reports had the team trying to trade Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans.

The reports, many attributing the New York Daily News, said the Pelicans were shopping the two in an effort to land a big man, although no other teams were mentioned.

The Pelicans entered Monday’s game on an eight-game losing streak with starting center Jason Smith and leading scorer Ryan Anderson out indefinitely with injuries. Greg Stiemsma, whom the Pelicans signed in the offseason, and Alexis Ajinca, whose contract was bought out from a French team in December, share the center position, but neither is a consistent scorer or rebounder.

Gordon, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, has been in trade speculation all season. However, the recent reports come interestingly after he and Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps joked and laughed together after Friday’s practice.

Asked after the practice if Demps had told him there was no basis to the trade reports, Gordon said, “I don’t even go there with him with that.”

Gordon was asked if he thought there was any merit to the trade talks.

“I don’t really know,” he said. “I’m not sure. I’m not really worried about it. I’m just going to go out there and perform on the court.”

Citing Gordon’s level of play of late, his professionalism and work ethic, Demps said in published reports this past weekend that the Pelicans are happy with Gordon. However, Demps also said a general manager shouldn’t say he’ll never trade a player.

“But we are not shopping him,” Demps said. “We are not. We are beyond happy with Eric.”

Gordon’s days in New Orleans have appeared numbered since he arrived in a trade before the start of the 2011-12 season that sent All-NBA point guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers.

In Gordon’s first year with New Orleans, he played in just nine of 63 games. After the season ended, he was unhappy with contract talks with the team and signed a four-year $58 million restricted free-agent contract with the Phoenix Suns. New Orleans matched it and retained him.

Then, last season, he did not play in a game until Dec. 29, did not play in back-to-back games and missed 40 during the course of the season. Demps tried to trade him before the NBA’s February deadline, but because of his $14 million a year contract and his missing 123 games since the 2010-11 season with the Clippers, there was no interest.

This season, Gordon has missed just three of the team’s 40 games and has averaged 16.3 points on 44.1 percent shooting, including 40.1 percent on 3-point attempts. With point guard Jrue Holiday out with a fractured right tibia and Evans in and out of the lineup with left ankle sprains, Gordon has played well of late.

He scored at least 20 points in three consecutive games from Jan. 8-11. He then scored a season-high 35 points against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 15. In the Pelicans’ next game, though, on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors, he scored just 12 points on 3-of-17 shooting.

Evans, a 6-6 guard/forward, came to the Pelicans from the Sacramento Kings in a sign-and-trade in which he received a four-year, $44 million contract. He has had a sprained ankle three times but has missed just five games. He often has flourished in a sixth-man role in which he initiates the offense as the primary ball-handler.

He sat out the second half of a home game against Dallas on Jan. 11, however, citing the ankle. Coach Monty Williams obviously was not pleased. In post-game comments, he only acknowledged the injury when asked about it. And, Evans was listed officially as Did Not Dress-Coaches Decision for the game.

Evans sat out the next two games before returning on Saturday against Golden State, with the next game coming against Memphis, where he played collegiately. On Dec. 18, he returned from a sprained ankle two games before his first game against the Kings, his team of four years, in Sacramento.