Tyreke Evans looking for stable role in New Orleans

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A few things made the last few seasons in Sacramento tough for Tyreke Evans.

First, there were a series of injuries that slowed him down. There was a coaching change and just a general instability with the franchise as the Maloof era sputtered to its inevitable end.

Then there was how Evans had different things asked of him all the time by the coaching staff.

“It was definitely hard for me going from the point to the three, back to the two. It really was a challenge for me,” Evans told ProBasketballTalk while speaking from his youth summer camp sponsored by VSP Vision Care. “I think I handled it well, didn’t complain, just went out there and played. So this will definitely be different.”

What will be different is New Orleans, where Evans is headed as part of a sign-and-trade, where he will sign a four-year, $44 million deal.

Evans has yet to speak in any detail with Pelicans coach Monty Williams, but with Jrue Holiday at the point and Eric Gordon at the two (for now, he is reportedly being shopped), Evans is hoping he gets a defined role to fill.

“Pretty much,” Evans said of his hope for some definition of what he will be asked to do. “I’ll have a talk with coach and see what kind of role he wants me to play, it can be any type of role. We got a lot of ones out there, so it’ll be interesting to see kind of role he wants me to play. He’ll quite sure he’ll have me switching a little bit.”

Evans is headed to New Orleans as part of a three-team trade. The Pelicans will send Greivis Vasquez to the Kings and Robin Lopez to the Trail Blazers, while Portland will send the rights to sign No. 39 pick Kansas center Jeff Withey to New Orleans, and a future second-round draft pick to the Kings.

Evans averaged 15.4 points a game last season and played a little better on offense at the three than at the two. However, at times he struggled to defend threes. However, he is now heading into a different system with the Pelicans.

What Evans expects is an up-tempo team that, in his words, will just get out there and play basketball.

“I definitely think we’re going to be a running team,” Evans said. “We got point guards and players who can finish in the open court, and Anthony Davis who can jump and you can throw lobs to him in the pick-n-roll. I think it’s going to be fun just going out there and playing basketball.”

Evans is spending his summer he said working on his all around game, particularly his shooting (he shot a career best 33.8 percent from three last year and wants that part of his game to be more of a threat).

But first he is doing what he has done the past three summers — working with at-risk youth in the Sacramento area at a free camp sponsored by VSP Vision Care.

“I been working with VSP for three years on the camp. I’m pretty excited about it’s, it’s for the kids and it’s free…” Evans said. “They all get an eye exam as too, so that’s a good thing.”

Those kind of health checkups can find things that often may be missed otherwise, Evans noted. The camp is more than just hoops, they get with school supplies and some Nike gear, all paid for by VSP and Evans.

These are youth trying to overcome disadvantages and Evans wants to share with them from his NBA experiences that what pays off is hard work;

“That’s number one thing, beside school, it’s about putting the work in,” Evans said. “What you put in is what you get out. I wouldn’t be in the NBA, I mean, I’m talented, but I worked hard. I tell them if you work hard you get better, and that’s the key to push themselves and just never stop chasing your dream.”

Sometimes, those dreams lead to New Orleans.

Why is Robin Lopez holding this dog during his exit interview? (VIDEO)

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What did Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez have to say during his exit interviews? I can’t really tell, it’s all a bunch of white noise. All I see is him holding his giant, shaggy dog named Muppet while speaking to reporters.

I can’t get over it, really. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before?

Lopez is the perfect candidate to do this if you think about it, given his propensity to be a little off-kilter.

Via Twitter:

Lopez was mostly talking about taking away positives from a weird Bulls season in which they struggled all year until miraculously making the 8-seed before challenging top-ranked Boston in round 1.

Clippers, Jazz prepare for Game 7 in Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES  (AP) – Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul was adamant the sun would not set on Paul Pierce‘s NBA run in Salt Lake City on Friday night.

“I looked over at ‘Truth’ during one of (those) timeouts and I said ‘You’re not ending your career in Utah,’ ” said Paul, referring to Pierce’s popular nickname. “We told him that. We just said we want to keep this thing going for him. Paul was big tonight. Like the 3 he hit over there on the wing, and stuff like that. Just his energy and his voice in those different timeouts I think was huge for us.”

With a crucial 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6, the Clippers will attempt to extend the career of the 39-year-old Pierce, who is retiring at season’s end, and capture the series Sunday in Game 7 at Staples Center.

The winner advances to the second round to meet the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven affair beginning Tuesday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

Paul, whose two late free throws sealed the win against the Jazz, led the charge by scoring 29 points, dishing eight assists and allowing the Clippers to avoid elimination in the opening round for the second straight season. The Portland Trail Blazers bounced them last season in six games, aided by injuries to Paul and Blake Griffin.

And as Paul loathes to hear, the point guard has never guided a team past the second round.

“This is what we talked about before (Game 6),” said Paul, who has become the Clippers’ main force offensively with Griffin out of the playoffs again, this time with an injury to his big toe. “Doc (Rivers) said to go out there and give yourself a chance. We knew we couldn’t win both games (Friday), and we wanted to give ourselves a chance.”

Utah will have another opportunity to end Pierce’s career on Sunday despite missing a chance on its home court. After the Jazz won Game 5 on Tuesday at Staples, All-Star forward Gordon Hayward made it clear he didn’t want to return for a Game 7.

Hayward, though, is humming a different tune now.

“We’ve come a long way from where we were three years ago,” Hayward told the Salt Lake Tribune. “If you had told me at the beginning of the year you’d be in a Game 7 against the Clippers in L.A., I’d have been like, ‘Bring it on.’ ”

The Jazz will be forced to bring their best with center Rudy Gobert hobbling again. Gobert, who sustained a hyperextended left knee in Game 1 that kept him out of the lineup for two games, sprained his ankle in the second half of Game 6 and was forced to the bench because of it during critical stretches.

Gobert said the ankle wouldn’t hinder him Sunday.

“I sprained it on somebody’s foot,” said Gobert, who finished with 15 points, nine boards and three blocks, according to the Tribune. “I tried to run through it, but that didn’t work out. I’ve had a lot of sprained ankles before. I will be good.”

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.