Free agent profile: Maurice Evans
This is the 36th post in a series of free-agent profiles that analyzes particular players and how they might fit in with the Lakers.
Washington Wizards small forward Maurice Evans
Type of free agent: unrestricted
Positives: The years Kobe Bryant was stranded on an island and had to share the ball with the likes of Kwame Brown and Smush Parker were hardly glorious. The Lakers couldn't escape the Phoenix Suns in early first-round exits. Bryant became so frustrated that he spent the 2007 summer demanding a trade. Yeah, they weren't fun times.
Even though he was part of that skeleton cast and would wind up as trade bait for Trevor Ariza, Evans' brief stint with the Lakers still proved solid enough for the role he filled and the abilities he showed. He spent most of the time backing up Bryant, scored more than 20 points seven times and made few mistakes to at least deem him a dependable player.
Evans has been an NBA journeyman, as indicated by his various stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves (2001-02), Sacramento Kings (2004-05), Detroit Pistons (2004-05), Lakers (2006-2007), Orlando Magic (2007-08), Atlanta Hawks (2008-2010) and Washington Wizards (2010-2011). But his reputation for rarely making mistakes tabs him as an option the Lakers can pursue simply because of the low risk involved. His shooting percentage remains solid with shots at the rim (60%) and with shots from within 10 to 15 feet (59.1%), according to Hoopdata. His career turnover rate (.5) remains consistent with his yearly output. And despite his limited size at small forward (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), Evans still remains a solid defender. Add in his title as vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, and you have both Evans and Derek Fisher fully prepared in helping their teammates manage their finances. With a new collective bargaining agreement likely to feature less lucrative perks, having both those guys nearby sure can come in handy.
Negatives: Evans doesn't exactly fill the Lakers' most urgent backcourt needs. He's not young. His three-point shooting from last season (34.6%) nearly mirrors the Lakers' poor three-point shooting last season, hovering at 35.2%. The small forward position with the Lakers remains at a logjam with Ron Artest and Matt Barnes that it would be more practical for Evans to play at shooting guard. But with the possibility that Devin Ebanks and Andrew Goudelock emerge as reliable options at that position, there's not much value for Evans to provide.
Verdict: This is unfortunately going to be the mantra for the Lakers given their limited finances and uncertain CBA. But this might be the only kind of move the Lakers can afford to make. Evans is a reliable enough player for the Lakers to consider, but they should consider keeping Ebanks and Goudelock first.
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Photo: Maurice Evans played with the Lakers in the 2006-07 season. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times