The Seattle SuperSonics have re-signed forward Reggie Evans
to a multi-year deal, General Manager Rick Sund announced today. Per team policy, terms were not disclosed. Evans, a restricted free agent, visited the Denver Nuggets, but demonstrated all summer long that he wanted to re-sign with the Sonics. Evans participated in the team’s pre-summer-league-camp, and reported to Seattle earlier this month to participate in informal workouts.
Evans demonstrated tremendous ability on the glass as a rookie.
Evans got his deal done in time to participate in the Sonics first practice of the season this morning, something he said was important. “I don’t like missing practice,” Evans said afterward. “I knew I was going to sign – I was not going to miss practice. The only way I’m going to miss practice is if it’s an emergency.” The motivation for that came from within, Evans added. “I’m not trying to please my coaching staff, or my teammates or anybody upstairs.”
After joining the Sonics as an undrafted free agent a year ago, Evans now has the security of a two-year deal. Still, he can’t get complacent. “I can’t get satisfied with it. I’m not satisfied with it, so I just have to continue to work hard and make things even better in the future.”
Coach Nate McMillan knows that Evans is ready to go because of his workouts with the team this summer. That work ethic meant a lot to McMillan. “I thought it was great,” McMillan said. “I thought it was important. I’ve never seen a guy in that situation do that. He felt this was home for him. In no instance did he allow us to assume that he wanted to go somewhere else. He came in early, he worked, he felt like the contract would get done. It went to the last hour, but it got done, and now he can focus on playing.”
Despite starting 60 games last season, Evans will still have to fight for playing time with Vladimir Radmanovic and rookie Nick Collison. It’s generally assumed that a key for Evans would be demonstrating improvement on the offensive end of the court. McMillan vehemently disagreed when asked this afternoon. “I don’t know why people are so concerned with Reggie’s offensive game,” he said. We have enough shooters, we don’t have rebounders. You do what you do best. We’re not dropping the ball in to him. We didn’t bring him in for that reason.”
Instead, McMillan is looking to Evans for much the same things he provided last year, notably defense and rebounding. “I think last year he got a good taste of what it’s like to play in this league, what he’s capable of doing,” McMillan said. “Teams, I think, will give him a little more respect, so he’s going to have to make some adjustments. The same things – bringing energy to the floor, rebounding the ball. Those two things should help us. Those are things we don’t have a lot of.”
Because of an agreement reached between the Player’s Association and the NBA, veterans are allowed to report to training camp three days later than young players this season. The Sonics youngsters started even earlier because of the team’s trip to Japan to start the regular season. Only the Los Angeles Clippers, who will face the Sonics in Japan, begin practice before next Tuesday, when the Sonics veterans will begin practicing. Joining Evans on the court today were guards Joseph Forte and Ronald Murray, forwards Collison, Radmanovic and Ansu Sesay and training-camp invitees Jason Hart, Richie Frahm, Matt Barnes, Galen Young, Sam Hoskin and Mikki Moore. Rookie Luke Ridnour was out on the court shooting jumpers after practice, but McMillan indicated the timetable for his return has not changed. Ridnour is still expected back in mid-October.
The last two seasons, the Sonics have had a training-camp invitee emerge as a starter – Art Long in 2001-02 and Evans last year. Don’t expect such a story this year, however. With 14 players under contract, McMillan has made it clear to the players in camp that he probably will not keep any of them. “I said it again last night to them,” McMillan said. “You’ve got to make us go up into that office and say, ‘Look, we cannot let this guy go’ because I don’t really have spaces. I don’t have a spot.”
The Sonics worked on defense during their morning practice, and McMillan was pleased with his young players’ effort. “I like the energy these young guys came in with – their concentration, their focus was good,” he said.