Pelicans make offer to Tyreke Evans, pursue Andre Iguodala as free agency tips off
The New Orleans Pelicans are taking aim at some big fish in their foray into the waters of free agency.
The Pelicans on Monday made an offer to Sacramento Kings restricted free agent Tyreke Evans, two people familiar with the situation said.
Also in the mix: free agency’s top shooting guard/small forward, 29-year-old Andre Iguodala, and 3-point specialist Chris Copeland, a forward.
Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps reportedly met with Evans, a 23-year-old guard, late Sunday. He met with Iguodala on Monday and was set to meet with Copeland possibly Tuesday, said Copeland’s agent, John Spencer.
For Evans, the sources spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the offer was supposed to remain private. Several media outlets reported the deal was for four years and ranging between $40 million and $48 million.
Since Evans is a restricted free agent, the Kings have the opportunity to match any offers he signs. Contracts can’t be signed until July 10 — after next season’s salary cap is set.
A former No. 4 pick, Evans averaged 17.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 257 games over four seasons with the Kings. He averaged 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 65 games last year.
What role Evans would have with New Orleans is unclear. The Pelicans acquired All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday in a draft night trade with Philadelphia last week, and point guard Greivis Vasquez and shooting guard Eric Gordon are still on the roster.
Sacramento selected shooting guard Ben McLemore and point guard Ray McCallum in the draft and may not match the Pelicans’ lucrative offer.
Evans played point guard as a rookie, when he averaged 20.1 points and was chosen Rookie of the Year. He then switched to shooting guard, and last season he played small forward. To receive compensation for Evans, the Kings may require a sign-and-trade deal in which New Orleans could part with Vasquez or Gordon — or both.
Iguodala and his agent, Rob Pelinka, had as many as six meetings Monday with prospective teams. He opted out of a one-year, $16 million deal to become a free agent, and signing him could be difficult for the Pelicans, a rebuilding team.
Spencer said he and Copeland, a reserve with New York last season, know they have to be patient, that teams are concentrating on upper-tier players first.
“We understand that there’s a level of protocol, of due process that goes on,” Spencer said. “You’ve got guys like Dwight Howard and others who are really the focal point of a lot of trades and signings of free agents.”
Spencer said the Pelicans are among six teams with whom Copeland, 29, was to meet, saying Milwaukee, Utah, Los Angeles, Indiana and Charlotte also have called.
Reports have the Pelicans and Pacers as the teams who are most interested in Copeland, who played his first season in the NBA last year after six years in Europe. He shot 42.1 percent on 3-point attempts, averaging 8.7 points.
Aside from the financial security free agency can bring, Spencer said Copeland, who played 15.3 minutes per game last season, is seeking playing time and a chance to continue learning. The Pelicans did not retain starting small forward Al-Farouq Aminu.
“It’s a chance to get significant playing time, but also the pieces to the puzzle look good,” Spencer said. “They just added Jrue Holiday, and they have Anthony Davis. It’s a great (basketball) operations staff, a new owner — everybody’s excited.”