Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: New regime shows it's ready to wheel and deal

Published: Friday, Jul. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 - 2:38 pm

These new guys? They don't mess around. They are daring, disciplined, decisive, relentless.

They swing and miss on Andre Iguodala, a free agent they coveted and offered to compensate generously, then come right back and swing again, this time connecting on a three-team deal that will send Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans for point guard Greivis Vasquez.

Vivek Ranadive. Pete D'Alessandro. Mike Bratz. Michael Malone. Plotting behind closed doors. An active offseason in sweltering Sacramento. A presence during free agency. And now, finally, a pure point guard.

Guess we've missed a lot these past few years. The Kings' annual NBA lottery appearances and tepid offseasons had become food for thought at every Fourth of July barbecue. Recent rosters consistently featured players with clone-like, rather than complementary, skills. There was too much one-on-one, too little defense, no offensive cohesiveness – remember that death-by-dribbling offense? – and since Doug Christie departed, no floor leader to impose a sense of basketball sanity.

Evans, 23, was not going to be that player. He just wasn't. He sees and feels the game with the eyes and instincts of a natural scorer, and becomes tentative, even uncomfortable, when asked to make decisions or outright demands on teammates. Through no fault of his own, he was jerked between positions, anointed as the Kings' savior at point guard during his Rookie of the Year season before experimenting at small forward and eventually settling in at shooting guard.

On a different team and in the right situation, with a more creative passer and a shooter at his side, the 6-foot-6 veteran should be able to flourish and establish his own unique, valuable persona.

He will be missed. There is not a more gracious or accommodating athlete. Excluding his escapade on Interstate 80 a few years back, Evans played by the rules, never more so than these past several days. He did what the system instructed: He went out and brought back a four-year, $44 million offer sheet the Kings' front office – which had valued its restricted free agent at $8 million to $9 million per season – determined was too steep and would have eaten too much space on the payroll.

"You're walking a fine line," D'Alessandro said Thursday. "You want to maintain salary cap flexibility because you want to maintain the ability to strike, to go after a player you think is special. (That was Iguodala). Tyreke was definitely going to be too much money. But we're ecstatic. We've been looking for a pass-first point guard, and we got a good one in Greivis. If he were a free agent, this is someone we would have gone after."

In his third season, the Venezuela native and former Maryland star averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 assists, third best in the league. He became expendable last week when New Orleans traded Nerlens Noel (draft rights) to the Philadelphia 76ers for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.

Vasquez, 26, is expected to join a starting lineup that includes rookie Ben McLemore, center DeMarcus Cousins, and forwards John Salmons and Jason Thompson.

Or maybe not. Check back in October. D'Alessandro, who flew coast-to-coast midweek during one frenetic 24-hour span, anticipates other significant roster moves before the season. The preference, of course, is to unload one or more of the cumbersome contracts for Marcus Thornton (two years, $16.9 million), Salmons (one year, $7.58 million) or Chuck Hayes (two years, $11.68 million).

With the addition of Vasquez, the attention turns back to small forward.

"We have to do something there," D'Alessandro said. "I might look at more of a veteran, someone to come in for a year or two, and who can really shoot it from deep. Passing and shooting have been our priorities. But while this is only one deal, I think what we did today is going to help us."

Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Email: avoisin@sacbee.com
Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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