Thursday, June 21, 2012

Evans back with Wizards. Coaching. For the summer (CSNwashington)

Even if injuries and a youth movement curtailed his playing time, Mo Evans proved valuable to the Wizards last season. The veteran small forward ostensibly served as a coach on the floor and in the locker room, a pro’s pro on a youthful roster prone at times to amateurish acts.

This summer, the 33-year-old Evans will do more than just play the role of a de facto assistant coach. He will be an actual assistant coach on the Wizards Las Vegas Summer League team next month.

The true oddity is Evans will do so while remaining an NBA free agent.

The idea came about during Evans’ exit interview with Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and other members of the organization. The situation became clearer when Randy Wittman was retained as the Wizards head coach.

“I think it matched well with my skill set,” Evans said during a telephone interview. “The opportunity was there. Coach Wittman got his contract renewed. Having played a big role, kind of being a player-coach last year, playing and also assisting with some of our guys, it just made perfect sense to try and help out with that role.”

The Wizards will begin play on June 13, the summer league’s opening day. This will not be Evans’ first venture with the Sin City hoops event, but the first where the sidelines will be his true home. His current hybrid status makes for an ideal situation.

“I’ve had my fair share of Vegas and I’ve had my fair share of playing in the summer league,” said Evans, first acquired by the Wizards in a trade late in the 2010-11 season. “It will be great to go back and really help out some of the young guys with things that can sometimes get lost in translation between coaches and players.”

Just to be clear, this is not a whim for Evans, some way to pass the time. Within the last few days, the swingman completed his third pilgrimage to the annual NBPA Top 100 camp in Charlottesville, participating in the coaching component of the high school basketball showcase.

Current and retired players take classes plus have the opportunity to “actually coach a team, call plays, call timeouts, go over strategy and really help these guys,” said, Evans, who will assist Sam Cassell, the Wizards summer league head coach, next month.

Roger Mason Jr., Evans’ teammate with the Wizards and himself a free agent, will also serve as an assistant as first reported by Alex Kennedy from

“Not to say that I’ve mastered it in any way shape or form, but I think I have enough tools in the bag to be an assistant to Sam,” Evans said.

Evans, who averaged 4.9 in 24 games last season, also believes he still has enough tools in the bag to remain an NBA player.

“I’m not retiring. I just think this is a great opportunity that I could take advantage of,” Evans said.

NBA free agency begins July 1, meaning there is a chance, small perhaps, that Evans could sign with one team while coaching the Wizards. Despite his clipboard holding future for the team, Evans said no assurances have been made either way about a potential slot on Washington’s 2012-13 roster. Regardless, he was all in when given the chance to help his current, former team...the Wizards.

“With the momentum that we finished with April and kind of helping the player’s development and using my expertise, the experience I’ve gained over my 11-year career, this made sense that this was the next logical step,” Evans said. “If I do re-sign with the Wizards or go elsewhere, it made sense to help these players out in whatever capacity I can.”

This week’s trade that brought frontcourt options Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to the Wizards complicates a future role for Evans in Washington, though roster spots exist deep on the depth chart.
Evans, once traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Orlando Magic in a deal that sent Ariza out west, believes the newcomers will enhance the Wizards maturing situation.

“Trevor’s a great addition to the team, so is Emeka," Evans said. “They bring great veteran presence to the locker room. They’ll really help with the culture that the Wizards are trying to build.”

(CSNwashington link)
Ben Standig blogs about the Redskins, Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C. area college basketball scene for CSNwashington. You can reach him by email at, follow him on Twitter @BenStandig and catch his musings at the D.C. Sportalist.

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