Former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans is moving closer to an NBA return. He will sign a G League contract and join the Milwaukee Bucks‘ affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. If Evans impresses, it could pave the way to an NBA contract with the Bucks.
The No. 4 overall pick in 2009, Evans got off to a flying start to his NBA career, averaging 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in his first season with the Sacramento Kings. He joined Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James as just the fourth rookie in NBA history to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, and ended up beating out Steph Curry for the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award.
Unfortunately for Evans and the Kings, that was not the beginning of his road to stardom. In fact, it was the high point of his NBA career. While he was still a productive player for many years, he never blossomed in the way that you may have expected given his talent and rookie season. He was eventually traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, then returned to the Kings and also spent time with the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers.
Then, in 2019, he was handed a two-year ban from the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. Evans was not banned for a performance-enhancing drug or marijuana, but rather a drug of abuse. Examples of such drugs include amphetamine, cocaine and LSD. Evans was eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2021 but did not do so until earlier this year. He was officially reinstated on Feb. 14.
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He was a free agent at the time of his suspension, and once again entered the free agent pool when he was reinstated. He had spent the past few weeks working out for numerous teams, including the Golden State Warriors, but seems to be closing in on an opportunity with the Bucks.
Still only 32 years old, Evans could potentially be a useful bench player. He has the size to play multiple positions on the wing, turned himself into a solid 3-point shooter in his previous few seasons in the league and has some definite playmaking skills. But after three years away from the league, it’s no surprise the Bucks want to see him in action before signing him to an NBA contract.
Even then, it might be too much to ask to jump right into the rotation of a team looking to defend a title. The Bucks need wing depth, though, especially after Deandre’ Bembry tore his ACL, and Evans is certainly one of the most talented options around. It won’t hurt to give him a shot in the G League and see if he could give them some help down the stretch.