Sacramento, Calif. Tyreke Evans was scheduled to appear at Thursday’s NBA Draft celebration at Sleep Train Arena before a meeting with his agent, Arn Tellem, forced him to cancel.
Perhaps that meeting prevented an awkward moment for Evans, who likely would have been asked by the media what he thought about the Kings drafting Ben McLemore. The shooting guard out of Kansas might replace Evans in the starting lineup.
Evans could not be reached for comment Friday.
The Kings recently extended a qualifying offer worth $6.9 million to Evans, making him a restricted free agent. Evans won the 2009-10 NBA Rookie of the Year award as a point guard but started at small forward in his third season and at shooting guard last season.
How the Kings use Evans — if he returns next season — will determine how the rest of the guards fall in line.
“Tyreke is a talent, and we feel strongly (about that),” Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro said after the draft. “I cannot go into a negotiation mode or speak to you about that until the appropriate time, but we submitted the qualifying offer and gladly we did that.”
The Kings’ guards continually griped about playing time last season. That won’t end soon after the Kings used their first-round pick on McLemore and their second-round choice on Ray McCallum, a point guard from Detroit.
Evans could sign the qualifying offer and return to the Kings for a season, agree to a sign-and-trade with the Kings or sign an offer sheet that Sacramento would have the right to match.
With Evans playing shooting guard last season, Isaiah Thomas started at point guard. When Evans started at small forward two seasons ago, Marcus Thornton started at shooting guard. This doesn’t include what might happen with Jimmer Fredette or what role John Salmons, who started at small forward last season, might play.
“Now we have two young guards to bring into this mix,” D’Alessandro said. “We wouldn’t have gone into this direction if we felt it was a cluttersome thing, but it doesn’t diminish the value we have for the players already in place.”
Of the group of guards, Evans has the pedigree to play all three perimeter spots.
Thornton and McLemore appear best suited to play shooting guard, while Thomas and McCallum are point guards.
Fredette has played some of his best basketball in limited minutes at shooting guard, but listed at 6-foot-2, he is built more like a point guard.
Evans feels most comfortable at point guard.
“We have a lot of guards,” D’Alessandro said. “We have a lot of talented guards, and we have a lot of versatile guards. That’s how we look at it, and I think coach (Michael) Malone would echo this. We have guys that we can play in multiple positions. And I think when you look at some of the veterans on our team, that’s the case.”
The Kings said they would draft the best players available, regardless of position, after going 28-54 record last season, and stuck with the game plan.
“I can say very confidently that we got better (Thursday) by the two young men we drafted,” Malone said. “From a talent perspective, from a culture perspective.”
There is still the possibility of trades and free-agency signings next month.
What seems certain is D’Alessandro and Malone will give their newest guards a chance to succeed.
McLemore said he could play more than shooting guard but admits he needs to work on his versatility.
“Work on ballhandling a little bit,” he said. “Keeping it tight and moving and getting from point A to point B.”
McCallum also looks forward to his chance to stand out in the backcourt.
“I feel like I’m definitely in a good situation,” McCallum said. “I feel like they’re going to let me grow and give me a chance to play and prove that I can play.”