Nets trade Jason Terry, Reggie Evans to Kings for Marcus Thornton
Terry, 36, is averaging a career-low 4.5 points and 1.6 assists in 16.3 minutes in 35 games this season. The Nets acquired Terry from the Celtics last summer in the blockbuster trade that landed Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Terry is under contract for $5.6 million this season and $5.9 million in 2014-15.
Evans, 33, is averaging 2.7 points and five rebounds in 13.3 minutes in 30 games. The physical forward, known for his rebounding and physical play, is making $1.7 million this season and will make $1.8 million in 2014-15.
Thornton, 26, is averaging 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 24.4 minutes in 46 games. The fifth-year scoring guard is earning $8.1 million this season and will make $8.6 million in 2014-15.
"Marcus is a proven scorer in this league," Nets GM Billy King said in a statement. "He is a young talent who will help us in the backcourt."
Sacramento's primary motivating factor would appear to be its desire to clear the decks for 2013 lottery pick Ben McLemore. The rookie, selected seventh last June, has bounced in and out of coach Michael Malone's starting lineup as he competed with Thornton for playing time. With Sacramento (18-35) all but officially eliminated from the playoff chase, shipping out Thornton would make it clear that the Shaq-leaping McLemore, who has a smooth shooting stroke but is hitting only 36.6 percent from the field, will be the guy down the stretch and heading into the future.
The Kings signed Thornton, a 2009 second-round pick, to a four-year, $31.2 million deal in 2011, an agreement that raised plenty of eyebrows at the time. A scorer before all else, Thornton is shooting just 38.1 percent overall and 31.8 percent from three-point range this season, posting a career-low 9.8 PER while taking some heat from Malone for his defensive effort and execution. With Rudy Gay in the fold after a December trade with the Raptors and the 21-year-old McLemore representing the future, Thornton isn't bringing much to the table for the Kings and he certainly isn't delivering on his contract.
Moving Thornton for Terry and Evans wouldn't provide any meaningful salary cap relief for the Kings, but they would add a proven rebounder in Evans whose minutes have been cut this season under first-year Nets coach Jason Kidd. Otherwise, the Kings will find themselves counting down the minutes until Terry's contract expires, just as they were with Thornton. The 15-year veteran has posted a career-low 7.6 PER this season and is shooting a career-low 36.2 percent, drawing several DNP-CDs along the way.
Brooklyn's apparent aim: hope that Thornton can rediscover the scoring touch that got him paid in the first place and help the Nets (24-27) make a push up the East's playoff standings. In 2011-12, Thornton averaged 18.7 points, and the Nets surely envision him as the off-the-bench scoring threat that Terry wasn't able to provide. They're likely crossing their fingers that a change of scenery benefits Thornton, a la Courtney Lee's revival in Memphis after being traded from Boston. That's certainly a possibility, but even a Thornton gunning on all cylinders isn't all that much to write home about.
Sacramento grade: C-plus.
For years now, Sacramento has been overloaded with a glut of score-first, score-only players. Unloading Thornton alleviates that somewhat but the Kings didn't exactly sell high on a player in whom they invested major dollars. Grabbing Evans is better than nothing but he doesn't address a major weakness, as Sacramento is a top-10 rebounding team.
Brooklyn grade: B-minus. King continues to cycle mediocre and sub-mediocre parts in hopes of landing on someone who is ready to step up and revive his career. Will that be Thornton? Who knows, but he should have a clear-cut role and spot on the pecking order in Brooklyn, which should help.