Pelicans, Blazers, Kings make deal
New Orleans, Portland and Sacramento have agreed to a three-team trade sending guard Tyreke Evans to the Pelicans, center Robin Lopez to the Trail Blazers and guard Greivis Vasquez to the Kings, people familiar with the deal said.
The people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Thursday because NBA rules prevent confirmation of trades until Wednesday, say Portland is sending second-round draft pick Jeff Withey to New Orleans and a future draft pick to Sacramento as part of the deal. The trade also sends guard Terrel Harris to Portland.
Evans, a former rookie of the year and restricted free agent, averaged 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists with the Kings last season, his fourth. He has demonstrated the versatility to play either guard position, or even small forward when matchups favor doing so.
Lopez, who was New Orleans’ starting center after arriving in a trade with Phoenix, averaged 11.3 points to go with 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season, all career highs in what was his fifth NBA season. Vasquez, who started at point guard, averaged career highs of 13.9 points and nine assists and the Venezuelan was widely regarded as one of the most improved players in the NBA.
For New Orleans, the trade comes on the heels of a draft-day deal that sent sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel to Philadelphia in exchange for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Because of Evans’ versatility, he could potentially become a key sixth man, backing up both Holiday or high-scoring shooting guard Eric Gordon as needed and giving all three players the minutes they command. That is, if the Pelicans decide not to trade Gordon, who has played only 51 games in the past two seasons combined because of lingering knee problems.
The Pelicans also now have a void to fill at center. If New Orleans does not acquire another starting center through a trade or free agency, it could potentially move reserve power forward Jason Smith into that spot, which he has played periodically during the past few seasons. Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, who generally play power forward, also could fill in at center in stints if needed.
Last season, Portland played J.J. Hickson, a true power forward, at center alongside two-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.
The addition of Lopez will give the Blazers help at the position while developing Meyers Leonard, the 11th overall pick in the 2012 draft.
It is the second major move the Blazers have made since the NBA draft. On Sunday, Portland added frontcourt depth by acquiring forward Thomas Robinson from the Houston Rockets in exchange for a pair of future draft picks and the draft rights to Kostas Papanikolau of Greece and Marko Todorovic of Montenegro.
Robinson was the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft by the Sacramento Kings. He was dealt to the Rockets in a three-team trade in February. He played in 70 total games last season, averaging 4.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 15.1 minutes.