â€œYouâ€™ve got to always be self-motivated. Iâ€™m a real self motivator. I canâ€™t disrespect myself by not working hard.â€ Reggie Evans
Each year I want to write off Sonics PF Reggie Evans as not talented enough, not versatile enough, or not tall enough. Just last week I featured a column which praised the fact that Evans had been supplanted in the starting lineup by Nick Collison. Reggie Evans went from a starter averaging more than 20 minutes per game to a fringe player outside of the normal rotation. He logged three consecutive DNPCDâ€™s and seems to have been clearly brushed to the back burner.
While I have doubts about Evans versatility I have none about his heart or his character. After a disappointing summer of contract negotiations and free agent strikeouts Evans returned to the team on a one year contract eager to prove himself to the open market. Now as he finds limited opportunities to showcase his skill the potential for conflict with management has grown. When talking about his situation Evans does show signs of tension but insists that things are fine between him and the organization.
â€œNah, no bridges burned.â€ said Evans when asked about a return to Seattle next season. He knows that if he keeps the right mindset the rest will take care of itself.
â€œIâ€™ve got to work hard, keep the right mind frame. Keep my head. Iâ€™ve got to stay smart and stay focused in this situation.â€
Evans could well be the poster child for how to handle a tough situation as he remains a positive force in team chemistry and a tireless worker in practice. Over the last week he has consistently been the last player off the floor, often working for a full hour with assistant coaches on his offensive game. Evans insists that he stays to work on his game, not to make a point to the coaching staff.
â€œItâ€™s all within yourself.â€ said Evans. â€œIâ€™m not trying to show them. Itâ€™s just a matter of that being what I need to do. Iâ€™m not playing so I need to go extra hard, do more. Itâ€™s my own thing, telling myself to go even harder to be sure that Iâ€™m ready when I get my chance.â€
Evans got his chance in the fourth quarter of last nights loss to the Utah Jazz. Injury and foul trouble, along with a generally pathetic effort by his teammates caused head coach Bob Weiss to call his number.
â€œReggie did a bang up job out there. â€œ said Weiss who takes note of Evansâ€™ work ethic and professional handling of the situation.
â€œReggie always works hard. Heâ€™s always going to be ready for you. I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s anything new. Heâ€™s kept a very good attitude and was ready when he was called upon. â€œ
While Reggie enjoyed the play he would knows the game could have been more enjoyable.
â€œI wish we would have won. During those last two wins I still helped the team. I still helped a lot. I was cheering them on and having a smile on my face. That helps too. The other two games felt better because we won.â€
Reggie Evans has grown a great deal from the wide-eyed rookie who made the team as an undrafted free agent. Each season he has been here the team featured a player who was expected to take over his role. Each season Evans puts on his hard hat and carves out a niche for himself.
â€œThis is my fourth year. Iâ€™ve seen a lot and Iâ€™ve heard a lot. In the process Iâ€™ve learned a lot. Iâ€™ve seen what can go wrong in this league if a person runs his mouth off. The main thing is to just stay patient in this league. Just shut your mouth and work hard and be ready since Iâ€™m not playing right now Iâ€™ve got to work even harder.â€
Evans continues to work on his game, hoping to diversify his offensive skills. Each day he focuses on 16-18 foot jump shots, picking several spots on the floor and not moving on until he has hit 10 consecutive from each one. If effort is any indication then Evans will prove us all wrong again and find his way into the rotation before this season is over.