NBA PM: Maurice Evans Remaining Patient
Around this time last year, Maurice Evans was sitting in a New York conference room and attempting to negotiate with the NBA’s owners. It seemed like the lockout would never end. Regular season games were being canceled and meetings weren’t yielding progress.
It was a frustrating time for Evans, the vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, and the rest of the NBPA’s executive committee. However, after 160 stressful days, the two sides would agree to a deal and ratify a new collective bargaining agreement to save the 2011-12 NBA season.
Now, the lockout is a distant memory, but Evans’ patience is being tested once again. This time, the waiting game is free agency. The regular season will get underway in two weeks, but the 33-year-old guard remains unsigned. Several teams have tried to sign Evans to a non-guaranteed deal, but the veteran has no interest in signing a make-good contract at this point in his career.
“I did not entertain any non-guaranteed contracts,” Evans told HOOPSWORLD. “At this point in my career, every team and GM is familiar with my skill-set and what impact I would have on their team. A non-guarantee was not appealing at all, especially coming off the heels of helping negotiate the current CBA just last year.
“I believe there will be opportunities that will manifest after training camp. There are many players still at home that can bring tremendous value to teams.”
Evans believes he still has plenty left in the tank. Last season with the Washington Wizards, Evans produced when given an opportunity, averaging 4.9 points in 14.3 minutes. During the final game of last season against the Miami Heat, he was arguably the best player on the court, finishing with a game-high 18 points in 23 minutes. Evans trained in Houston during the offseason and feels great. While he can still help a team on the court, he acknowledges that his biggest contributions come off the court. He’s an excellent leader and locker room presence, which every team needs to succeed.
“Being a veteran player, and having accumulated experience from playing significant roles for six different playoffs teams, I know how to bring value to an NBA team both on the court and in the locker room,” Evans said. “Although, because of my maturity and growth as a man through overcoming trials in life and throughout my career, I believe my value within the locker room, community and organization far outweigh my playing abilities. I believe a premium should be placed on leadership, especially in today’s game. It is impossible to have sustainable success without leadership on or off the court.”
Once his playing career comes to an end, he hopes to put those leadership skills to use in an NBA front office. With his vast knowledge of the CBA and strong relationships around the league, Evans wants to eventually become a general manager. The numerous bargaining sessions that Evans attended prepared him the job, and he also earned his degree in education from the University of Texas last summer.
This offseason, Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld discussed the possibility of Evans joining Washington’s front office, but the veteran wasn’t ready to retire and move into the next chapter of his life. The Wizards weren’t interested in bringing back Evans as a player so the two sides parted ways.
“I was never formally offered a job in management with the Wizards,” Evans said. “I expressed interest in wanting to help the organization continue to grow, but I wanted to do that as a player. At that time, Ernie made a decision to go younger. I understand this is a business. I respect him as a GM and wish him and the entire organization nothing but the best.”
While Evans waits for his next contract, he continues his work with the union and NBPA Executive Director Billy Hunter. Evans is implementing new programs that will prepare players for life after basketball. Many players retire and are unable to adjust to their new lives. They’ve been away from their families for so long that they struggle in their role as husband and father. They’ve never had any business training so they make poor financial decisions. The NBPA is putting programs in place to help players get their lives together away from the court, starting while they’re in the league and continuing once they retire.
“In the meantime, I have enjoyed working more closely with Mr. Hunter and the rest of the staff to improve our union and help it to work towards becoming the strongest union in sports,” Evans said. “We are updating our agent regulations, our by-laws and our player programs. We are planning to cut into the deficit that is plaguing our players by way of bankruptcy, divorce, drugs and lack of transitional skills upon leaving game. This is very exciting, especially as the business review winds down and all of the negative energy associated with it is cast aside.”
Evans enjoys working with the NBPA and Hunter, who has become his mentor over the years.
“Mr. Hunter has been a tremendous help to me personally as a mentor while being on the executive committee,” Evans said. “More importantly our players should be thankful for him and our union for the job they have done throughout his tenure, especially with limited resources as it compared to the NBA.”
Evans is remaining patient and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself. His future is up in the air, but he’s confident that he’ll eventually sign a guaranteed contract and help a team.
However, if Evans doesn’t sign another contract, he’s satisfied with everything he has accomplished throughout the course of his career. Not only has he played for seven teams and exceeded everyone’s expectations as an undrafted player, he has emerged as a leader for the league’s players and put himself in position to succeed after his playing career comes to an end.
“I am happy that my identity is not tied up in being an NBA player,” Evans said. “If I were to retire today, I would have no regrets and would be extremely thankful God allowed me to play eleven years professionally after not being drafted.”
Lin Adjusting to Houston: After signing with the Houston Rockets over the summer, Jeremy Lin is still trying to get comfortable with the change of scenery. He’s trying to learn a new system, mesh with new teammates and adjust to a new city. Through three preseason games, Lin has struggled, averaging just 5.3 points, 4.7 assists and 2.3 turnovers. However, the Rockets are confident that he’ll play well once he gets acclimated and the games matter. HOOPSWORLD caught up with Lin recently to discuss his first impression of Houston, the talent surrounding him, the heightened expectations entering the 2012-13 season and more:
Bynum May Be Sidelined Several Weeks: When the Philadelphia 76ers acquired Andrew Bynum, they knew they were getting one of the best centers in the league. They also knew they were getting a 24-year-old who has a history of serious injuries that have kept him sidelined for long stretches. Before Bynum could play a single game with the Sixers, he was forced to sit out due to a bone bruise in his right knee. Now, Bynum has underwent Synvisc-One injections in both of his knees. HOOPSWORLD’s Stephen Brotherston has the details and reports that this could further delay Bynum’s debut:
The plan to inject both of Bynum’s knees with Synvisc-One on Monday, October 22 could delay Bynum’s return to the lineup, or even the practice court, a lot longer than team officials are letting on.
According to the company website, Synvisc-One is designed to treat Osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis pain in the knee. Pain and stiffness is caused by the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones deteriorating and the joint fluid losing its shock-absorbing qualities. Synvisc-One supplements a person’s own joint fluid and can provide up to six months of relief.
However, Synvisc-One takes four weeks after the injection before most patients experience pain relief, there can be side effects such as swelling or fluid buildup and 29 percent of patients do not experience pain relief as a result of the procedure.
Even if Bynum’s treatment progresses faster than Synvisc-One describes, it would not be reasonable to expect an early return to game activity.
“This is something that has happened where he has had the summer off, so you have to factor in the inactivity of the summer,” 76ers head coach Doug Collins said. “A lot that (timetable) is going to be how he responds to increased activity. I know how important the home opener is, but we are not going to do anything silly and have another setback.”
HOOPSWORLD Season Previews: The 2012-13 NBA season is rapidly approaching and there are plenty of early storylines emerging.
Can the Miami HEAT repeat their championship quest from last season? Is this the final championship run for the aging Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs? Will Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks finally put all of their talent together and join the league’s elite? Can the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, now boasting Dwight Howard and Steve Nash unseat the Oklahoma City Thunder as Western Conference champions? Is this the year the Minnesota Timberwolves reach the playoffs behind All-Star Kevin Love? Likewise, the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors are poised to make playoff runs of their own, but can they seal the deal? Are the Dallas Mavericks toast, or will their new group of hungry veterans surprise us all?
The HOOPSWORLD team has these questions and more all covered and you can find season previews for all 30 NBA teams by following this link.
NBA Chats: There are two chats on schedule for today, starting with Anthony Macri at 10 a.m. EST. Coach Macri will be followed by Eric Pincus at 4 p.m. EST. You can always find upcoming NBA chats by clicking here. If you are looking for previous chats, click here.