When news broke today that the Pelicans had tendered Tyreke Evans a four-year, $44 million dollar contract, the nearly universal reaction was that this was a laughable overpay, a team on the fringe of playoff contention (at best) throwing caution and cap flexibility to the wind in pursuit of an enigmatic talent. And, when all is said and done, that may very well be the case.

But think back to 2010, when Evans was named Rookie of the Year after averaging better than 20 points per game on 46% shooting from the field, as well as chipping in better than 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game as a prodigiously gifted, big point guard. If any team in the NBA had been offered the opportunity to sign Evans from age 23 to age 28 for $44 million, they would have at least given it long, careful thought—and many would have jumped on the chance without a moment’s hesitation.
The problem, of course, is that Evans has not blossomed into the superstar that he appeared to be. Injuries and what is perceived as a me-first attitude have prevented Evans from capitalizing on his significant physical talents, and last season he averaged only 15 points per game, with peripherals worse than his rookie campaign—45% shooting, under 4.4 RPG, 3.5 APG.

Also in 2010—namely, 18 games into the 2010-2011 NBA season—Eric Gordon was averaging 24 points per game for the Los Angeles Clippers, pairing with eventual Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin, before Gordon went down with a serious wrist injury. Gordon was developing a reputation as an ascendant star, a slashing two-guard who was equally deadly from deep. While lacking ideal size for the shooting guard position, he went on to be the centerpiece of the trade for Chris Paul before the 2011-2012 season.