NBA Saturday: Extending Tyreke Evans
Will (Should) Sacramento Extend Tyreke Evans?
Once upon a time (the spring of 2010), Tyreke Evans was named Rookie of the Year, and after that initial season in which he averaged over 20 ppg, 5 rpg, and 5 apg, the general assumption was that the kid was going to be a star. With that stardom would come fabulous riches in the form of a max contract four years down the road, but three years later, Evans finds himself up for an extension that he’s probably not going to get.
The deadline hasn’t passed, but we’ve been hearing for months that the Sacramento Kings were more likely to let him enter restricted free agency next summer than extend him now, since they would always have the opportunity match any offer sheet for him. Better that than overpay for him before his having proved himself as a professional with any sort of longevity as a star in the NBA.
He hasn’t necessarily done so yet. Since that stellar rookie season, Evans has had a rough go of things, missing almost thirty games in his sophomore campaign thanks to a nagging case of plantar fasciitis, and then being forced to adjust to a new coach and an increasing number of shoot-first guards with which to share the backcourt last season. Since that Rookie of the Year campaign, it’s always been something with Tyreke.
His numbers have gone down in each of his three seasons, but despite that fact there are a lot of people who still love the guy. Fans all over the country continue to inquire how their favorite teams could acquire Evans, like he’s an answer to so many problems, but it’s telling that one of the worst teams in the league isn’t confident enough in his abilities to extend him. It’s unlikely he fits the bill for anyone else, either.
But that’s beside the point. The point is that the Kings are the ones holding off, and with a guard rotation that also features Aaron Brooks, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, and Jimmer Fredette, it’s no big secret why. If Evans doesn’t pop, they’ve got plenty invested in several other players who might.
The bottom line is that Sacramento is doing the right thing by waiting on the extension. The worst-case scenario for the Kings is that Evans signs an offer sheet with another team next summer, at which point they’d have the opportunity to match it. That way, the market dictates his value and they don’t overpay unnecessarily. But how much is he worth? Well, JaVale McGee recently got $11 million a season, and Serge Ibaka got $12 million. Evans’s skillset and experience places him among that talent tier, so something in the $10-12 million a season range wouldn’t be surprising. He is, after all, only 23, and he’s certainly talented enough to be a star. The question is, will he? And if so, when?
Those are questions the Kings will have to gauge as they decide how much they’re willing to shell out for the franchise’s second-ever Rookie of the Year (Phil Ford was the first, back in 1979). That’s a big talent to just let walk away, but if they decide they won’t (or can’t) extend him, it will be time to start exploring a trade.
Before this thing is all said and done, that might end up being exactly what they do.
How Sleeping Equates To Wins
Anybody who’s ever had a baby knows that trying to maintain normal performance at work for the first few weeks of the infant’s life is nearly impossible. Late nights, short bursts of sleep, and not enough time for naps during the day makes us all sluggish and, to use a sports metaphor, more than just a little off our game.
In fact, I remember having a conversation with Sacramento Kings guard John Salmons when he was with the Chicago Bulls, and it was a year in which his early-season shooting percentages were just atrocious. He got blasted for it in the media, and HOOPSWORLD certainly didn’t lay off of him, but it all made sense after one quick yet revealing conversation that went something like this:
Me: “You look tired, John.”
Salmons: “Yeah, well the wife just had a baby.”
Aha. Not that Salmons was ever exactly an All-Star, but it wasn’t a stretch to say that a guy who hadn’t been sleeping much at home, and who, like a lot of NBA players, probably wasn’t sleeping much on the road either, was being affected negatively by sleep deprivation.
Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, head of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, believes athletes absolutely do perform better when they’ve got a good night’s rest.
“There are studies showing that with college athletes, if they get enough sleep for three or four weeks, their stats all improve, whether it’s swimming, tennis, basketball,” Czeisler told ESPN.com. “This idea that sleep deprivation is part of training is archaic. Practice without sleep makes no sense.”
In fact, he suggest teams practice later in the early afternoon rather than 10:00 am, as many teams do, because it gives players more time to rest, particularly when traveling.
The truth is, a game that begins at 7:30 pm ET will likely end at 10:00 pm, but by the time they’ve showered, dealt with the media, and gotten out of the building, it’s often close 11:00 pm. If a flight leaves that night, they might not get to where they’re headed until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, which makes that 10:00 am practice a little tough.
Czeisler, who has actually been hired by teams like the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, and Minnesota Timberwolves to help them plan their travel schedules, says many organizations are doing their players a disservice by simply scheduling their days in a way that robs of them of a good night’s sleep.
“Teams are planning everything based on, ‘Well, we need to go here, then there.’ But nobody is accounting for the fact that players need to sleep,” he said. “In fact, there were many things in the team’s schedule structurally that did not allow them to sleep. Once you understand that, it then becomes about developing a strategy tailored to their game and fine-tuned with their travel schedule that will allow the players to sleep.”
It could be as simple as moving practice back a few hours or scheduling a flight for the early afternoon rather than the early morning, but making travel conducive to allowing 7-9 hours of sleep a night could mean better performances from these athletes over the course of a grueling 82-game season.
There’s not a whole lot Czeisler can do for a player whose wife just had a baby—that’s an entirely different story—but he does campaign for sneaking in a few hours here and there when a team can help it. Of course, there’s still the issue of convincing players to hit the mattress rather than the clubs, but if done right, teams could at least offer opportunities for more sleep for the players who want it.