The biggest NBA news of July 4 was the Sacramento Kings agreeing to a three-team trade that will send Tyreke Evans to the New Orleans Pelicans in a sign-and-trade. The most interesting tidbit of the deal came from ESPN's Marc Stein, who reports that Evans told New Orleans he'd be willing to play a sixth-man role in a backcourt that will also include Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday.
Holiday, like Evans, will be acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers when the NBA's free-agent moratorium ends July 10.
The Pelicans are apparently ready to roll with that trio of dynamic guards and won't necessarily make a push to trade away Gordon, who was on the first season of a max deal in 2012-13.
The trade will also send Pelicans center Robin Lopez to the Portland Trail Blazers and teammate Greivis Vasquez to the Kings. The Blazers will also receive reserve shooting guard Terrel Harris and rookie center Jeff Withey, but they'll have to pay Lopez's $1.6 million trade kicker and ship two second-round picks to Sacramento, according to Stein.
Calderon spurns Kings
Vasquez's acquisition will give the Kings a young point guard to build around. He averaged 9.0 assists per game last season, good enough for third in the NBA. But he wasn't Sacramento's first choice.
The Kings pitched veteran point guard Jose Calderon on the idea of joining a rebuilding team, but he ultimately decided he'd prefer to sign elsewhere. A return to Detroit, which took on his contract as part of the Rudy Gay deal this season, could be an option. From Detroit Bad Boys:
The fact he rejected the Kings is absolutely good news for Pistons fans -- we just don't know how good. But let's imagine for a moment that he returns and Chauncey Billups agrees to be his backup. That's a whole lot of ball protection and 3-point shooting from the point guard spot. Do it, Joe!
Clark agrees to join Cavs
Earl Clark finally got a chance to shine last year, but not until the Lakers were decimated by injuries. He must have made an impression on coach Mike Brown, however. Brown coached just five games before Los Angeles fired him but Clark -- who came to the Lakers in the Dwight Howard deal -- was impressive enough to earn a two-year, $9 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Brown's new team. Clark's deal has a team option in the second season.
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reports the Lakers would have paid $11.3 million a year just to match Cleveland's offer because of the luxury tax.
The San Antonio Spurs appear unwilling to pay too much for reserve guard Gary Neal, so it was on to agreeing with Marco Belinelli on a two-year, $6 million contract. Apparently, Belinelli had a more lucrative contract offer to join the Cavs but couldn't turn down the opportunity to play for the Western Conference champs, Stein reports.
Belinelli will theoretically replace Neal, but could also spell the aging Manu Ginobili. Spurs fans at Pounding the Rock certainly like it:
He's got adequate D, very strong BBIQ, very strong jumpshooting and very strong confidence. He was directly responsible for the Bulls even making it a series with the Heat this year. He's a perfect Spur, and I've been eyeing him all year. [Editor's note: Yes, I know. You don't have to remind me again. -jrw] Trust me when I say, this will end up being one of the year's best FA moves league-wide.
- The Los Angeles Lakers need help, but the Clark news was an example of how little wiggle room they have in terms of financial flexibility. Perimeter shooting is at the top of Los Angeles' list, and Anthony Morrow could be a target that's solid both in skills and value. He's also someone Dwight Howard has wanted to play with.
- In the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors have come to an agreement with backup point guard Julyan Stone, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Denver Nuggets benchwarmer follows former Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri to Canada.
- And we leave you with a Dwight Howard update. Not much has happened as Howard attempts to come to a decision, but word of the free agent big man's meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers have leaked. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash were in attendance and, according to ESPN, Bryant told Howard that he'll have issues anywhere he lands. Settling down and working through problems is part of growth, Bryant reportedly told Howard.