Maurice Evans, left, on court with Kobe Bryant in January 2007, played with… (Jeff Kowalsky / EPA )
This is the 22nd post in a series focusing on this year's free-agent class.
Player: Maurice Evans
Former team: Washington Wizards
Type of free agent: Unrestricted
Positives: The Lakers are fairly familiar with Evans, who wore the purple and gold during the 2006-07 season before being traded with Brian Cook to the Orlando Magic for Trevor Ariza. During Evan's brief stint, he provided the ingredients the Lakers want for Kobe Bryant's backup. He scored more than 20 points seven times. Evans rarely made egregious mistakes. Bryant sitll had to log 40 minutes per game because he played with the likes of Kwame Brown and Smush Parker. But Evans proved dependable enough to average 22.8 minutes per night. It's likely Evans could complement Bryant in the same fashion, though this year's team has a much better supporting cast.
Evans has bounced around with several teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves (2001-02), Sacramento Kings (2004-05), Detroit Pistons (2004-05), Magic (2007-08), Atlanta Hawks (2008-2010) and Wizards (2010-2012). Yet, his qualities have remained pretty consistent. His 57% conversion rate with shots at the rim last season mirrors his career output (57.4%). Evans' turnover rate (.42) last season also nearly matched his career averages (.49).
Though Evans averaged a near career-low in points (4.9) and minutes (14.3) last season with Washington, much of that reflects the team's desire to build around young players. Case in point, Evans scored 14 points in 26 minutes in a win over Chicago after Roger Mason was waived after having season-ending surgery. The Lakers are more interested in squeezing as much production as possible from an aging roster. Evans' positive locker room presence and sound fundamentals makes him a viable candidate both to lower Bryant's minutes and help the Lakers toward winning a championship.
Negatives: There are many needs on the Lakers' bench that Evans can't fill. He lacks athleticism, while the Lakers want to add quicker and younger players. Evans' career three-point shooting (36.3%) mirrors the Lakers' clip last season (39.5% in the regular season, 30% during the playoffs). He's unable to create much for himself.
Verdict: ESPN New York reported Evans wants to play for a team that "has a chance to do something special," in reference to the Knicks. But that description could also apply to the Lakers, who are championship contenders after acquiring Steven Nash and Antawn Jamsion, while re-signing Jordan Hill. It also helps that the reports mentions Evans' willingness to take the veteran's minimum, which the Lakers hope is enough to upgrade their bench.
Pursuing Evans isn't exactly a bad choice. He would bring more positives than negatives. But the Lakers should aim higher. Obviously, financial limitations are an issue, so they may have no other choice than to consider Evans.
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