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NBA free agency update: Pelicans reportedly offer $44 million contract to Tyreke Evans; teams begin lining up for Andre Iguodala 07.02.13 at 12:14 pm ET
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The New Orleans Pelicans rebranded themselves by changing their mascot this season, and they are starting to do it in terms of their personnel this offseason.

Tyreke Evans

Tyreke Evans

The Pelicans strengthened their backcourt on draft day by dealing for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. Now, they are making an aggressive move for another guard, as they offered a four-year contract worth as much as $44 million to restricted free agent Tyreke Evans, according to USA Today.

Evans averaged 15.2 points, 3.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in 65 games with Sacramento last season. His production has declined each year since he won Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 — a season in which he averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds.

The Kings have the right to match any offer sheet that Evans signs before the league lifts its moratorium on July 10. Evans has already visited with the Pistons and has a meeting scheduled with the Hawks soon.

If the Pelicans do sign Evans, the question will be how they will use him. Holiday is coming off an All-Star season and Eric Gordon averaged 17 points per game last season. The Pelicans also drafted Austin Rivers with the No. 10 pick of the 2012 draft, and he averaged 6.2 points and 2.1 assists per game last season.

Evans — who started his career as a point guard before shifting over to shooting guard — played some small forward last season. However, Evans has resisted playing small forward in the past and would raise questions on how the guard rotation would work.

For the Pelicans to be able to afford Evans’ contract — which they priced so high that the Kings likely would not match the deal — New Orleans would try to unload Robin Lopez’s contract according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Lopez is set to make around $5.1 million in 2013-14.

If the Kings lose Evans to the Pelicans, they are already on making plans to find his replacement. The Kings met with free agent Andre Iguodala on Monday, adding to the list of teams trying to bring in the forward. Iguodala also is being targeted by the Pistons and his team from last season, the Nuggets, according to Slam Online.

Iguodala is not the only star player the Pistons are looking to add, as they are pursuing Hawks forward Josh Smith. Detroit has met with Smith, according to USA Today, but has not yet offered him a contract. Smith will meet with the Hawks on Tuesday.

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Report: Nets make push for Hawks’ Josh Smith 02.11.13 at 9:54 am ET
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Josh Smith reportedly is the subject of trade talks between the Hawks and Nets. (AP)

The Celtics’ days of Atlantic Division dominance appear to be ending, and the division might soon get even tougher. According to an ESPN report that credits league sources, the Nets — who began Monday with a 1½-game lead over the Celtics for second place in the division behind the Knicks — are making a push to acquire Hawks forward Josh Smith or Bobcats guard Ben Gordon before the NBA’s Feb. 21 trading deadline.

Forward Kris Humphries is the player the Nets are said to be offering as the centerpiece of either deal, with shooting guard MarShon Brooks available as well.

Smith is set to become a free agent following this season and is expected to demand close to maximum salary, so the Hawks risk losing him and getting nothing in return if they stand pat.

The 6-foot-9 Smith is in his ninth NBA season, all with the Hawks, after going directly from high school to the pros. In 46 games this season, he’s averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.2 blocks — all slightly above his career averages.

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Hawks suspend Josh Smith one game 01.16.13 at 2:03 pm ET
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Josh Smith will miss Wednesday night's game against the Nets. (AP)

The Hawks suspended forward Josh Smith, their top scorer, for one game for “conduct detrimental to the team,” general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement on Wednesday. Smith, who will miss Wednesday’s game against the Nets, also was fined an undisclosed amount.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Smith was thrown out of practice on Tuesday. Coach Larry Drew acknowledged that there was “an incident in practice.”

“At that particular point, something had to be done,” Drew said. “I met with Danny afterward, and the rest of the staff, we actually slept on it. We all came back in agreement that we had to take the measure that we did. That we would do it, that would be our stand. After tonight’s game, again, we will embrace Josh once again.”

Smith is averaging 16.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The Hawks have lost six of their last seven games and seven of their last nine. Before that skid, they were 19-9 with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

“Clearly I am competitive and was frustrated by our recent losses,” Smith said in a statement. “I understand and respect the team’s actions and just want to get back on the court to do whatever is necessary to help my teammates. I apologize for letting them down and apologize to our fans for not being available for tonight’s game.”

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