Tyreke Evans does not play in back-to-back games for the Kings after a season spent dealing with knee problems.
So given the opportunity to play Friday against his former team in New Orleans or Saturday at Minnesota, he had no preference.
“Coach (Dave Joerger) asked me (Thursday), but I just said it really don’t matter,” Evans said. “I’m going to play them next year; it don’t matter. He said I’m going to play (Friday) so I’m going to be ready.”
Evans was in the starting lineup for the Kings on Friday against the Pelicans at Smoothie King Center. It was the first game in New Orleans for Evans, Buddy Hield and Langston Galloway, who were traded to the Kings along with draft picks for DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi.
Evans said he attached no extra meaning to the game. He spent three-plus seasons with the Pelicans after being drafted by the Kings in 2009 and playing four seasons.
Evans’ only playoff appearance came in 2015 with the Pelicans.
“It’s part of the NBA; it’s a business,” Evans said. “Treat it like another game, try to get a win. That’s pretty much it.”
Evans, who will be a free agent after the season, was not the key component of the trade for the Kings. That was Hield, the rookie shooting guard from Oklahoma, and the top-three protected draft pick.
The three new Kings have blended well with their teammates, Joerger said.
“They’ve been good, good guys,” Joerger said. “They work really hard. We’ll see what happens down the line, the next few years, for their development.”
Hield has played well for the Kings. In 18 games entering Friday with Sacramento, he is averaging 14 points on 47.7 percent shooting (41.7 percent from 3-point range) in 28.1 minutes.
Hield averaged 8.6 points on 39.3 percent shooting (36.9 percent from 3) in 20.4 minutes over 57 games with the Pelicans.
“He’s just a young guy,” Joerger said. “To get traded in the middle of your first season is difficult. You just try to support him. And on the run our team changed – it’s not just one thing, our whole team changed. So just try to get him comfortable and finish out the year.”
Defending Cousins – The Kings rested their best post defender, Kosta Koufos, for Friday’s game.
That left Willie Cauley-Stein and rookie George Papagiannis as the primary defenders on Cousins.
Joerger said there’s no one way to stop Cousins, but said the game would be a good teaching tool.
“Get as many people in front of him as possible,” Joerger said. “Everything’s been tried against him; he’s seen everything. We’ve got some young guys who are going to be playing. It’s good experience for them.”
Also sitting – Anthony Tolliver and Ty Lawson also sat out the game for planned rest.