MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) After several strange days filled with uncertainty, Tyreke Evans is still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Much to surprise of Evans – and his teammates.
The Grizzlies sat Evans for five games before the trade deadline, but general manager Chris Wallace said Friday that Memphis never received the right offer, so decided not to deal the team’s leading scorer.
”Basically, we felt that the offers weren’t sufficient for a player of Tyreke’s caliber and potential,” Wallace said. ”And particularly they weren’t sufficient when weighed against the potential benefits of having him here for the rest of the season. So, we decided not to do anything.”
The Friday news conference culminated a stretch where Evans has not been with the team as the Grizzlies tried to deal him to better position themselves for the future. With all the rumblings about a trade and hopes for a better draft pick, Evans and teammates acknowledged they were surprised he was still with the team after the deadline.
”I’ve never been through anything like that,” center Marc Gasol said of the events. ”I’ve never seen a guy get pulled off (the floor) and not get traded.”
Asked how he felt, Evans laughingly said ”rested.”
”I always wanted to stay here. It wasn’t like I asked for a trade,” Evans said. ”I have a bond with my teammates. I was put in a situation where I thought I was going to be traded, but it didn’t happen.
”Everybody knows this is a business.”
Many thought the Grizzlies were destined to make a move with Evans before Thursday’s trade deadline, partially because he is on a one-year contract with the team. While there are scenarios that could result in re-signing Evans this summer, nothing is certain. And all the parties said that was a discussion for after the season.
Evans, who is averaging 19.5 points, five rebounds and five assists this season, last played Jan. 29 when he scored 27 points in the Grizzlies 120-109 win over the Phoenix Suns. After that game, Memphis went on a four-game road trip.
Evans was sent home before the game with the Indiana Pacers and has not seen action since, possibly protecting their most valuable trade asset from injury – something Wallace said was a consideration in not playing him.
As the Thursday deadline came and went, Evans was not among those traded. Wallace would not discuss detail of any offers.
”We didn’t get what we wanted, and so you read into that what you want,” the general manager said when asked if they were holding out for a first-round pick.
Memphis (18-36), which appears certain to see an end to its run of seven straight postseason appearances, hopes to secure a prime spot in this summer’s NBA draft. They are mired in the 12th spot in the Western Conference and suffering through a five-game losing streak heading into their game Sunday at Oklahoma City.
Despite the awkwardness of having Evans return after not playing for a handful of games, and the fact that he brings almost 20 points a game to a team looking to position itself for the lottery, team officials and players dismissed any talk that they will ”tank” the rest of the season.
Evans will return to action for the Grizzlies next game Sunday at Oklahoma City.
”We’re not going to change who we are,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said, adding: ”Any time we get on the floor, and there’s a matchup and there’s a ball that’s thrown up and we jump, we’re going to try and win the game.”