Evans Earns Good Reviews
By Mike Bresnahan, Times Staff Writer
October 12, 2006
It was a draft-day footnote, falling well below Toronto's selection of top pick Andrea Bargnani and the seemingly never-ending barrage of trades by Portland.
The Lakers' acquisition of Maurice Evans from Detroit for the rights to Cheik Samb barely registered amid the draft-day hubbub, but the Lakers are satisfied with what they've received.
Samb, a Senegalese center selected 51st overall by the Lakers, was not invited to the Pistons' training camp and probably won't be for another year or two. Evans, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise in El Segundo, arriving with a defense-first reputation and showing more of an appetite for offense than expected.
He views it as a more palatable situation than another year in Detroit, where his playing time and scoring average dropped in the playoffs because the Pistons' rotation was shortened. After a sour end to the Pistons' season in the Eastern Conference finals, Evans and his agent, Roger Montgomery, appealed to team President Joe Dumars.
Evans averaged only 3.3 points and 6.3 minutes in the playoffs, about half his regular-season averages.
"We were very hopeful that some changes could be made, whether we could expand our role there or get into a better situation," Evans said. "And they put us in a better situation."
When Evans received the news he had been traded to the Lakers, he called Dumars and thanked him. He is expected to back up Kobe Bryant at shooting guard and get time at small forward as well.
"I definitely welcome an expanded role," Evans said. "The thing I like about our offense is it kind of highlights your talents. If you're a versatile player, then you can really show off your skills and your talents.
"You might be in position to shoot three-pointers one moment, the next moment you might be slashing or cutting to the basket."
Evans signed a two-year, $3-million contract with the Lakers, but the second year is a player option, allowing him to test the free-agent market after the season if he wished.
The Lakers hope he fills a need as one of the first players off their bench.
Starting in place of the still-recuperating Bryant, Evans had 12 points in 21 minutes in an exhibition opener Tuesday against Utah.
"We just kind of viewed him as a board-crasher and an occasional three-point shooter, but he's shown us that he can do more than that," assistant coach Kurt Rambis said. "He's done a good job."
Evans will do about anything to ease the transition from Detroit.
"I wouldn't say unhappy like I was a problem, but they understood I was looking to be more a part of that team than what I was," he said.
It was only an exhibition, but Lamar Odom showed few effects of a long layoff from basketball during a tumultuous summer.
Playing more from the wing position than his usual spot near the top of the key, Odom had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists against Utah.
"It's good for him and it's good for us really that he shows that he has the stamina to go out there and play," Rambis said. "He did a lot of good things for us offensively.
"He got a little winded a couple times, but other than that I thought he played very well and very hard."