Tyreke Evans

Zoo's Views Podcast: Chester native Tyreke Evans

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Zoo's Views Podcast: Chester native Tyreke Evans

On this edition of Zoo's Views, Marc Zumoff talks with Pacers veteran Tyreke Evans. Evans, a Chester native, discusses his tough childhood and who helped him make it to the NBA.

Evans goes further into the difficulty recovering from a knee injury, which required multiple surgeries. Also, how did he decide on Indiana this past offseason?

1:00 - Transition to the Pacers.
5:30 - How injuries impacted his career.
10:00 - Earliest basketball memory.
11:30 - Difficulties growing up in Chester, PA.
16:00 - Players that influenced him (Allen Iverson).

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If Kawhi Leonard trade doesn't happen, what's next for Sixers?

If Kawhi Leonard trade doesn't happen, what's next for Sixers?

The Sixers swung and missed in their pursuit of LeBron James.

Sure, he gave them a meeting — that he didn’t bother to show up for — but it appears the King was never serious about settling his throne in Philadelphia.

So now what? The Kawhi Leonard trade talks are still alive and well, but what if the Spurs’ asking price is too rich? What do Brett Brown and company do if Plans A and B don’t work?

There’s no doubt Sunday’s decision by James was disappointing, but now it’s time for the Sixers to pick up the pieces. Here are their best options barring a Leonard deal.

Re-sign JJ Redick (done)

This always seemed like the move if the Sixers struck out on James. Redick even acknowledged that he thought the Sixers should take their shot with James, even if it meant the 34-year-old sharpshooter couldn’t return.

Redick already has an amazing rapport with the current roster. He’s a great influence on the team’s young locker room. On top of that, Redick enjoyed one of his finest NBA seasons in 2017-18. The 12-year veteran averaged a career-high 17.1 points per game and shot 42 percent from three on a career-high 6.6 attempts a night.

Given how much cap flexibility the Sixers have and how much Redick enjoyed his time here, this was a no-brainer. Redick is back on a one-year deal.

Bolster the bench

There won’t be a lot of sexy names on this list, but there are players who can help the Sixers. The bench was abysmal last season before Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova arrived. Both players are gone, but that may not be such a bad thing. Both were exposed by the Celtics for their lack of athleticism, especially on the defensive end.

Chester native Tyreke Evans has to be an option. Evans is coming off a career year with a horrendous Memphis Grizzlies team. Evans scored 19.4 points a game, his highest mark since his Rookie of the Year season back in 2009-10. He also shot over 40 percent from three for the first time in his career. Defense isn’t his strong suit, but he’ll provide more athletically than Belinelli as a bench wing. Evans is reportedly meeting with the Lakers after already meeting with the Thunder — though both teams may have a tough time making the money work. (UPDATE: Evans has signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the Pacers, per Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania).

Staying on the local front, Wynnewood native Wayne Ellington could be on the Sixers' radar. Ellington is a shooter, plain and simple. He shot 39 percent on a ridiculous 7.5 attempts from distance last season. He's also excellent coming off screens and could give the Sixers a similar look to Redick off the bench. He's not a liability defensively and would represent an upgrade from Belinelli in that regard. The Heat would probably like to retain Ellington's services.

If you’re looking for defense, Avery Bradley is your guy. Bradley had a tough year. After being traded by the Celtics for cap reasons, Bradley toiled away with the Pistons before being shipped to the Clippers in the Blake Griffin deal. He suffered a sports hernia injury just six games into his time in L.A. which ended his season. Bradley is one of the best defensive guards in the entire league. He’s also an improved shooter. He’s a natural fit. The Warriors and Grizzlies are reportedly interested in Bradley. (UPDATE: Bradley has signed a two-year, $25 million deal with the Clippers, per Charania).

There’s also Seth Curry. No, he’s not Steph, but he’s a great shooter in his own right. The younger Curry brother missed all of last season after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg. Before that, he shot 43 percent from three in 114 games with Dallas the last two seasons. Defense will be an issue and he may not be a great fit next to T.J. McConnell off the bench, but he’d certainly help with spacing issues. (UPDATE: Curry has signed a two-year, $5.6 million deal with the Trail Blazers, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski).

Then there’s our old friend Luc Mbah a Moute, who became a solid contributor for the Rockets. Mbah a Moute is what he is: a versatile player and solid defender. He has improved his jumper, shooting 36 percent from three last season. Defensively, he'd be a significant upgrade over Ilyasova and has experience playing a small-ball five at times with Houston. 

Last but not least is restricted free agent Jabari Parker. Parker is intriguing but may not be a fit for the Sixers. He's a combo forward who is better suited to play the four in today's NBA. With Dario Saric already in the fold, Parker would likely be a bench piece. Parker was the No. 2 overall pick back in 2014 but has had his career derailed by injuries. He has plenty of talent and will be an intriguing player to watch going forward if healthy. The Bucks have extended a qualifying offer, meaning they can match any deal. The market for Parker has yet to materialize so if the price is right, he might make sense.

See what you’ve got

The Sixers aimed high in free agency and it didn't work out, but now is not the time to panic. You missed because of geography, not your roster situation. 

You still have two cornerstones piece in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. There are plenty of question marks surrounding Markelle Fultz, but he was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason. You have to hope star trainer Drew Hanlen can rebuild Fultz’s jump shot and confidence. Then there’s Saric, who took a huge leap in Year 2. Robert Covington and McConnell are still solid contributors as well.

There are other intriguing pieces on the Sixers’ roster. Jonah Bolden could be making the trek from overseas. If he does, he provides outstanding athleticism and a hardnosed player off the bench with the ability to play the four and some small-ball five. His shot regressed a bit this season (31 percent from three), but it still has potential. 

The Sixers also need to sort out all of their young wings. Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz all have intriguing traits but none of them are sure things as contributors. 

Anderson brings a strong physical presence on the defensive end but his shot is inconsistent. After a strong end to his rookie season, Luwawu-Cabarrot struggled with injuries and inconsistencies last season. Korkmaz, too, had a lingering injury and still needs to get stronger for the NBA level. All three were first-round picks and it would be ideal if at least one of them realized their potential.

It's not ideal for the Sixers to go into next season with essentially the same roster, but they may not have a choice.

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NBA free agency preview: Shot creators

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NBA free agency preview: Shot creators

With the NBA’s free agency period beginning on July 1, the star-hungry Sixers are expected to chase LeBron James and Paul George. If James and George sign elsewhere though, the Sixers, who will start with around $26 million in cap space, will likely only be in the market for one-year deals, similar to last year, in order to preserve cap space for next summer (see story). With that said, they don't project to be players in the restricted free agency market.

Whether the Sixers sign a star or not they'll still have other needs on the roster, so what other unrestricted free agents could they target? After looking at potential upgrades from Amir Johnson at backup center and power forward options off the bench beyond Ersan Ilyasova, we continue our free agency preview by looking at potential shot creators.

Shot creators

Under contract: Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, T.J. McConnell

Pending free agents: None

Position overview 
During the regular season, the Sixers played with the third-fastest pace and compiled the second-highest assist percentage. But what that fast, high-movement and unselfish style of basketball hid was their lack of individual, perimeter shot creators in a halfcourt offense.

The Celtics brought that into the spotlight in the playoffs.

Boston slowed the game down, played their strong guard and wing defenders up on the Sixers' perimeter players (besides Ben Simmons) and dared them to put the ball on the floor and make a play. And the only one that could take advantage of it was T.J. McConnell. Suffice it to say, the Sixers need to improve in this category.

Now, if Simmons works in a jumper to make defenses honest, he'll become a more effective player in the halfcourt. If Markelle Fultz regains a reliable shot, he'll turn into the secondary ball handler alongside Simmons that the Sixers dreamed of when they traded up to the No. 1 pick to draft him. And if the Sixers land one of the three big stars on the market this summer in James, George or Kawhi Leonard, they'll have an elite scorer. If those three things happen, they'd obviously be set.

But if they miss out on a star, adding someone that can break down a defender off the dribble and create a shot, either for themselves or others, should be high on the to-do list.

Potential free agent targets

Tyreke Evans 
The Tyreke Evans from a few years ago wouldn't have been a fit on the Sixers. The Chester, Pennsylvania, native was a downhill point forward without an efficient outside shot. But Evans is now an off-ball threat as he hasn't shot lower than 35.6 percent from deep over the past three seasons and hit a career-best mark in 2017-18 at 39.9 percent on 286 attempts. 

Not only was it Evans' best three-point shooting season of his career, but his best overall season as well. He averaged 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists, while shooting 45.2 percent from the field in 52 games with Memphis. He managed to shoot this efficiently despite 77.4 percent of his two-point makes and 51.8 percent of his three-point makes being of the unassisted variety.  At 6-6, Evans can pose matchup problems on offense and while defense isn't his strong suit he's passable on that end. Leading up to the trade deadline, the Sixers reportedly had interest in Evans but the Grizzlies decided not to deal him at all. The Sixers could've used him in the playoffs and could still use him moving forward.

Will Barton
Barton reportedly turned down a four-year, $42 million deal from Denver before last season and went on to have a career year. He averaged 15.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 33.1 minutes per game. The explosive, bucket-getting guard shot 45.2 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond on 422 attempts. While the 6-6 Barton received a vote for second-team All-Defense, he's average at best as a defender.

There's a chance Barton, 27, doesn't get that kind same of a contract offer from the Nuggets, or anyone else, this offseason. With Nikola Jokic's max contract reportedly agreed upon, Denver will be into the luxury tax unless it can shed some salary. With only a few playoff teams having significant cap space and most of the league with their eyes toward the summer of 2019, Barton could be a victim of a depressed market. If that's the case, the Sixers could be an option on an expensive one-year deal so Barton can try again for that lucrative, long-term contract next summer.

Rudy Gay
It was surprising when the Spurs signed Gay, 31, last offseason. He was coming off a season-ending Achilles injury and didn't seem like he'd be a fit in San Antonio's system. But, when he was healthy, he enjoyed a nice season in the most limited role of his career since he was a rookie. In 57 games, Gay averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per game off the bench and shot an efficient 47.1 percent from the field. As a career below-average shooter from deep (34.3 percent), he connected on just 31.4 percent of his triples but thrived from the midrange in. On the other end, the 6-8 Gay can check either forward spot.

Before last season, he had a 10-year stretch where his scoring average ranged from 17-21 points per game. He can't act as a primary ball handler like Barton and Evans and isn't a great outside shooter, but Gay has a proven track record as a scorer and could be an option as a backup power forward.

Isaiah Thomas
At the end of the 2016-17 season, Thomas looked like a lock to receive a max contract this offseason. Not anymore. Following his magical performance with the Celtics two seasons ago when he averaged 28.9 points per game, the 5-9 guard was traded to the Cavs for Kyrie Irving, wasn't able to make his debut until January while rehabbing from a hip injury, played 15 games for Cleveland before being dealt to the Lakers, and played 17 games off the Los Angeles' bench before having arthroscopic surgery on his hip. His final 2017-18 stat line: 15.6 points on 37.3 percent shooting from the field and 29.3 percent from deep in 32 games. Yikes.

Thomas' value is so hard to gauge. He didn't look himself last season and there's always a chance he returns to All-Star form if he can get that hip right. But hip issues for an undersized player that relies on his quickness and is set to turn 30 next season is a pretty big red flag. It's hard to predict what his offers will look like because it will all come down to the medical report.

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