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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wizards - breaking down the Okafor, Ariza Lewis deal

Well, that was surprising.

The Wizards jumped into the trading waters on Wednesday, acquiring veterans Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza from the New Orleans Hornets.
Forget a singular focus on rebuilding: With this move, the Wizards have put themselves into the Eastern Conference playoff mix, maybe.
The cost?
Technically, Rashard Lewis’ buyout worthy contract and the No. 46 pick in the 2012 draft. Realistically, the team’s salary cap flexibility for the next two seasons and possible playing time for several recent first round picks.
As an NBA scout described the deal to CSNwashington upon learning about the trade, “You went from a youth movement trying to build from the draft to taking on money and thinking you can get to the eighth spot and next year get into the playoffs."

Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld downplayed the trade’s impact on plans for the June 28 NBA Draft (“It doesn’t affect the draft at all."). We'll see, but Florida wing guard Bradley Beal - myprediction with the third overall pick before the trade - is now the logical front-runner. Washington retained its other second-round selection, No. 32 overall.
Certainly, from a talent standpoint, the Wizards helped themselves with the deal, though hardly in a "Big 3" sort of way. The newcomers each bring a defensive mentality and are all by accounts solid citizens. The 6-foot-10 Okafor, who turns 30 this season, remains a viable interior presence eight years into his career though injuries (sore left knee) limited him to 27 games in 2011-12 (on his post-trade conference call, Grunfeld said the players still must pass their physical exams).
Though he averages a double-double for his career, Okafor's numbers last season – 9.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.0 block – all represent career lows. With his $13.49 million salary next season, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft moves past Nene ($13 million) as the highest paid player on the team.
Despite his time in the spotlight with the trophy-raising Los Angeles Lakers a few seasons back, Ariza is only 26 and coming off a bit of a rebound season. His athletic presence on the wing will help John Wall in the open court. His career 31.7 percent from beyond the arc does not address the team’s perimeter shooting woes. This deal overall does arguably more harm than good offensivel
Though Lewis remains a solid locker room presence, injuries sapped his onetime potent abilities. His days with the organization were numbered. We knew this. The question was simply how he would, entering the final year of his deal, receive his walking papers; as part of a trade, a hefty buyout (approximately $13.7 million) or by way of the NBA’s one-time only amnesty clause.
By doing the deal and not writing Lewis a check, the Wizards instead: