According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Denver Nuggets are a front runner to land Tyreke Evans in a trade. Wojnarowski mentions that the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are also front runners and that the Miami Heat are still engaged as well.
Three frontrunners (Boston, Denver and Philadelphia) and a fourth team (Miami) staying engaged on Memphis' Tyreke Evans, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2018
The Nuggets have been rumored to be interested in Evans before and it appears that they will make a push in the final days before the trade deadline to secure his services. The NBA has moved the trade deadline up this year to February 8th. The Nuggets have been the subject of many rumors in the past weeks with Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried and Malik Beasley being named as players Denver is willing to part with. Currently the 6th seed in the Western Conference, the Nuggets are looking to make a push for a playoff birth to return to the postseason for the first time since 2013.
Evans would provide Denver with depth and scoring ability from the wing while also being able to be the primary ball handler in stints. After a stellar rookie season, Evans was never able to re-capture his early success and struggled with the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans. Now with the Memphis Grizzlies, Evans has made a remarkable resurgence this season. He is shooting career highs in field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage and true shooting percentage. He’s having one of his best seasons in terms of limiting his turnovers, and while he’s not grabbing career high rebounds or assists, he is still averaging over five each a game.
There are certainly some drawbacks as well, especially for the Nuggets. First and foremost, Denver essentially already has five combo/2 guards playing in their rotation or just outside of it in Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Mudiay and Beasley. One would have to assume that either Barton, Beasley or Mudiay is going back to Memphis in a deal, or being packaged in something separate, because otherwise trading for Evans would just create a major log jam at an already crowded position. The other issue with Evans is he would essentially be a half year rental. He signed a 1 year deal with the Grizzlies at $3.29 million and will be seeking a large raise in the offseason. The Nuggets find themselves already in an identical dilemma with Barton so retaining Evans services past this year, especially if Denver also plans on trying to re-sign Barton, seems unlikely.
Evans would undoubtedly improve the roster right away. Mudiay and Beasley combined for 20 minutes and Barton played 34 minutes in Denver’s win over the Charlotte Hornets, Evans currently averages 31 minutes a game. Denver could give Evans all of the Mudiay/Beasley minutes and reduce Barton’s minutes to where he and Evans are both getting somewhere between 25-30 minutes a night. Evans is undoubtedly the more effective player right now in comparison to either Mudiay or Beasley, and reducing Barton’s workload, which has been extensive thus far, would help keep him from tiring in the playoff run. Adding Evans might be just enough to push Denver from a 7-8 seed to a 4-6 seed and earn them a more favorable playoff matchup and perhaps even a trip to the second round, or the Nuggets might end up surrendering an asset to get him and then still end up painfully ever so short of reaching the post season, a la the Mason Plumlee trade last season. These are the risks the Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas have to decide whether or not to take in the next 48 hours. Stay tuned.