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The Blame Game: On Evans and missed opportunity

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Tyreke Evans is still a Grizzly, and there is plenty of blame to go around

NBA: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been well documented over the last week how Chris Wallace messed up big time not trading Tyreke Evans.

I’ve been one of the many people in complete disagreement with the Memphis Grizzlies General Manager over his decision to keep Tyreke Evans as a Grizzly. The Grizzlies made it known what their asking price for Evans was (a first round pick), and various teams around the league decided not to give the Grizzlies what they wanted. Wallace decided it was in the team’s best interest to keep Tyreke in hopes of re-signing him this summer. Wallace was definitely stubborn in his approach, demanding a first round pick and not accepting some of the rumored alternative deals.

At the same time, the GMs of the teams rumored to be interested in Tyreke were just as stubborn in not giving up their first round pick for a player having a career year, despite Evans potentially being a rental. Here’s how the five teams rumored to be interested in Tyreke are at least partially to blame that Evans is still a Grizzly.

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics Introduce Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics seemed like the most likely destination for Evans. They’re a legitimate title contender in need of bench scoring, as well as a player who can create their own shot. The Celtics are also loaded with tradable assets but GM Danny Ainge has been extremely reluctant to trade any of the assets, including picks. According to HoopsHype’s Alex Kennedy, the reported offer from the Celtics was Guerschon Yabusele and a couple of future second round picks. That’s really the best offer Danny Ainge could come up with, especially after all the moves Cleveland made?

According to Boston.com, the Celtics have their first round pick this year (and potentially Lakers if it falls 2-5) and could have up to four first round picks next season, including the Grizzlies pick. With the Celtics likely securing a top seed in the East, was a pick 25-28 really not worth giving up for someone like Tyreke Evans? The Celtics are obviously playing for the future since Gordon Hayward is out all season, but adding Tyreke gives them a great chance at a Finals appearance this season without disrupting any future moves the Celtics have planned. If the Celtics fall to the new-look Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, Ainge should catch a ton of grief for not getting Tyreke Evans.

Philadelphia 76ers

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The 76ers were another team interested in acquiring Tyreke Evans, trying to bring him to his home state of Pennsylvania. The Sixers don’t have near the draft capital the Celtics do, but with years of tanking already, the team is already filled with a ton of young talent. The Sixers aren’t title contenders yet, but they’re a team desperate to make the playoffs since the 2011-2012 season. With the Eastern Conference being as wide open as it has been in the Lebron James era, the Sixers have a decent chance of achieving that goal.

Acquiring Tyreke Evans would likely have solidified their spot in the playoffs, and maybe even help them get home court advantage in the first round. Acquiring Evans wouldn’t impact their free agency plans to go after a max-contract player, either with his expiring deal. If the Sixers struggle (or lose Simmons or Embiid to injury) and miss the playoffs, Philadelphia fans will understandably have some frustrations with GM Bryan Colangelo.

Denver Nuggets

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to the Sixers, the Nuggets were interested in acquiring Evans to push them to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season. ESPN’s Zach Lowe tweeted that the Nuggets gave the Grizzlies two trade options, that were both obviously declined.

Although both offers were acceptable, the Nuggets biggest weakness in their rebuild has been the point guard position. Mudiay wasn’t nearly as good as advertised and Jamal Murray has been inconsistent so far in his young career. The Nuggets are currently clinging to the 7th seed but are just a half game from being outside of the playoff picture, but also less than 4 games away from grabbing home court in the first round. With the team having their own first round picks over the next six years, the team could easily have traded one of them for Tyreke Evans. With the addition of Evans and return of a healthy Paul Millsap the Nuggets could make some noise in the playoffs before having to face off against the Warriors or Rockets. Instead the Nuggets will have to hope Devin Harris is solid enough addition to help carry the team to the playoffs until Millsap returns.

Miami Heat

Miami Heat v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Heat were another team interested in acquiring Evans, but also seemed like the longest shot considering they don’t have near as many first round picks available to trade. Thus causing Grizzlies fans to dream of a Tyreke Evans-Justise Winslow swap. It is unclear if that was ever discussed, but acquiring Winslow hopefully would’ve been something Wallace would have considered since Winslow was a top 10 pick in 2015.

It’s hard to blame GM Pat Riley for not pulling the trigger on an Evans trade considering the Heat’s recent struggles and the return of Dwayne Wade. With Riley’s typical aggression in free agency and the trade market, I expected him to make more of an effort to acquire Evans to solidify their playoff position after just missing out last season.

Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The Wizards are a bit of a reach here, as there was no serious traction between them and the Grizzlies but they were one of the teams that made the most sense as a destination for Evans. Rumors spread a week before the deadline that Washington was not going to trade a first round pick for any player this season after trading away one last year for a couple months of Bojan Bogdanovic. With their own first round picks thru 2024, I’m still a little surprised they were so reluctant to give one up for Evans. Washington has struggled this season, especially with John Wall ailing, but the team has consistently been a thorn in the side of the Cavs. In the wide-open Eastern Conference, the Wizards could theoretically do some damage with a healthy John Wall.

The biggest knock on the Wizards the last few years has been their bench depth/scoring and Evans would have solved that problem from day one.


Wallace still should have taken the best deal available to ensure they at least got something out of Evans’ career year, but Grizzlies fans will have to trust (or hope) that keeping Evans will ensure his resigning this summer. At the end of the day, Wallace wanted to stand firm with his demands of a first round pick, which is at least respectable and will hopefully help him in future trade negotiations. If the previously mentioned teams miss the playoffs or a chance to advance deep into the playoffs, Chris Wallace won’t be the only GM in trouble.

Draft pick information comes courtesy of realgm.com

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