The Pelicans, Portland and Sacramento agreed to a three-team trade sending guard Tyreke Evans to New Orleans, center Robin Lopez to the Trail Blazers and guard Greivis Vasquez to the Kings, people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because NBA rules prevent confirmation of trades before July 10, said Portland is sending second-round draft pick Jeff Withey to New Orleans and a future draft pick to Sacramento as part of the deal, which was first reported by ESPN. The trade also sends guard Terrel Harris from New Orleans to Portland.
Evans, a restricted free agent, on Wednesday agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract that the Pelicans offered Monday, the first day teams could approach free agents. The signings are not official until July 10, the start of the NBA fiscal year.
Vasquez, who started for the first time in his three-year career this past season, anticipated being moved after the Pelicans obtained All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday in a draft-night trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“My career will be fine,” he tweeted after the draft-night trade.
Vasquez, who finished second in voting for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 assists, both career highs, last season. He had some big games, such as the team’s meeting against the Clippers on Nov. 26 in Los Angeles, where he led a 3-point barrage with 25 points in New Orleans’ 105-98 victory.
But Vasquez played a gambling style that often resulted in turnovers. Coach Monty Williams sometimes voiced displeasure with Vasquez’s defense.
Vasquez is scheduled to be paid $2.15 million next season, with the team holding an option for 2014-15.
Portland is said to be paying the $1.57 million trade bonus that is in Lopez’s contract. He is due to receive $5.1 million this season, but the team has an option on his 2014-15 contract. Last season, Lopez averaged 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 blocked shots and 26 minutes while starting all 82 games, all career highs.
J.J. Hickson, the Blazers’ starting center last season, is a restricted free agent, although Portland reportedly was interested in retaining him. But Hickson, who can score and rebound, is 6-foot-9 and not a good shot-blocker.
Lopez, at 7-foot, is not a good leaper but showed he was a capable shot-blocker and defender last season. He came around offensively in the low post and with short jump shots.
With the additions of Holiday and Evans imminent, shooting guard Eric Gordon on Wednesday committed to remaining with the Pelicans.
“I’m all-in with the Pelicans,” he told Yahoo.com. “It would be great if we all can play together. I would say we’d definitely have a chance to make the playoffs.”
He seemed excited about the trade for Holiday, whom he has known since playing AAU basketball. On draft night, he tweeted, “Jrue Holiday will be great for us.”
But with Evans’ impending addition, Gordon could be traded. Evans, 6-6, was a small forward last season but has expressed displeasure with playing the position. He played point guard his rookie season of 2009-10, when he averaged a career-high 20.1 points along with 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists on his way to Rookie of the Year honors. He next played shooting guard before being moved to small forward.
Holiday and Evans each will make $11 million the next four seasons; Gordon made $14 million last season. He signed a four-year, $58 million offer sheet from Phoenix last summer as a restricted free agent. New Orleans matched the contract and retained Gordon, who said at the time, “My heart is in Phoenix.”
On May 10, Gordon had ankle surgery. Two weeks later, Vasquez had ankle surgery. Both have been rehabbing, and Gordon said he will return to playing basketball next week.
Withey is the Big 12 Conference’s all-time leader in blocked shots. A Kansas product, he was the 39th pick in last month’s draft.
Harris, 6-4, showed promise as an athletic, defensive guard whom Williams likes. But he struggled shooting, averaging 0.4 points in 13 games.