Grizzlies reportedly (and inexplicably) keep Tyreke Evans through trade deadline

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I considered Grizzlies guard/forward Tyreke Evans the player most likely to be traded by today’s deadline, which just passed.

He is having a good year for a bad team and will be a free agent next summer. It’ll take cap space or the mid-level exception to give him a starting salary more than $3,948,000. The way he has played, he might draw even more than the mid-level exception, which is all capped-out Memphis is likely to have available. The Grizzlies sent him home in anticipation of a trade. Plenty of teams were interested.

But Memphis stood pat.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

The Grizzlies wanting a first-round pick is reasonable, but if they could get only a second-rounder, they should have taken the best one. They gain nearly nothing by keeping Evans.

He’s not helping them win meaningfully this season. Memphis is far out of the playoff race and would have gained draft position by dealing him.

And the Grizzlies will still need to use their mid-level exception to re-sign him in the likely event he commands a starting salary above $3,948,000. If they traded him, they could have still signed him with the very same mid-level exception. It wouldn’t be shocking if Evans, who played collegiately at Memphis, returned even after being dealt. Now, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if spending more time with a losing team soured him on the Grizzlies.

There’s potential value in setting a hardline for future trade talks: Meet the asking price, or we’ll keep a player – even if it spites ourselves. But I’m not convinced other front offices will be more likely to acquiesce next time.

Evans wasn’t the only heavily discussed player to stay put. Though trades can still get announced after the deadline – only the call with the league must be initiated by 3 p.m. – DeAndre Jordan (Clippers) and Marcus Smart (Celtics) aren’t going anywhere.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

These make more sense.

Jordan and Smart are both helping their teams win meaningfully this season. Boston will have Smart’s restricted and Bird rights next summer. If Jordan opts out, the Clippers will have his Bird rights. Or, if he doesn’t opt out, they’ll have Jordan.