Tyreke Evans tries to keep the ball in bounds in front of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Evans led the Kings with 21 points.

Kings notes: Minus extension, Evans says he's just going to play

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 4C
Last Modified: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 - 5:59 pm

CHICAGO – The Oct. 31 deadline for contract extensions for fourth-year first-round draft picks passed with no deal for Tyreke Evans.

That was expected, so Evans went about his business as usual for Wednesday's season opener against the Chicago Bulls at United Center.

"I'm just going to play," he said. "I'm not worried about an extension right now. I'm focused on the team and us winning. It's passed; it's over with. Now I've just got to worry about this game."

A little more than two years ago, an extension for Evans would have seemed a formality.

He'd won the Rookie of the Year honor and appeared to be the franchise's cornerstone. But after an injury-plagued second season and declining statistics in his third season, the Kings decided to wait until the end of this season before looking at a multiyear deal.

Even if the Kings do not agree to an extension after the season, they can make a $6.9 million qualifying offer to Evans, who would become a restricted free agent. The Kings could match any offer for him.

That's the strategy the Kings used with Jason Thompson in the offseason before agreeing to a multiyear deal.

The other King eligible for an extension was forward James Johnson, who is in his first season with the team. He wasn't signed to an extension, either.

Starters (finally) revealed – After a month of playing coy about his starting lineup, Kings coach Keith Smart went with the same starting lineup he used two of the last three preseason games: Isaiah Thomas and Evans at guard, Johnson and Thompson at forward and DeMarcus Cousins at center.

"I knew exactly what I wanted to do," Smart said, explaining he wanted to see if someone could impress him enough to change his mind.

Smart said five different starting lineups in seven preseason games also gave him chances to test his team's mental toughness.

"I had to see how certain guys reacted to me moving lineups around," Smart said. "And all of them for the most part understood what we were trying to do as far as building a team."

Hard fall – Guard Aaron Brooks had one of his front teeth knocked out when he dived for a loose ball in the fourth quarter.

Brooks wasn't bleeding and stayed in the game. He said he'd see a dentist when the Kings returned home.

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