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Newly acquired Toronto Raptors forward Reggie Evans, left, and Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo pose for a photograph in Toronto on Tuesday, June 16, 2009. (NATHAN DENETTE)
Newly acquired Toronto Raptors forward Reggie Evans, left, and Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo pose for a photograph in Toronto on Tuesday, June 16, 2009. (NATHAN DENETTE)

Evans knows his role Add to ...

In every NBA game, dozens of plays are called to get shots for this centre or that shooting guard.

Has Reggie Evans - a bruising 6-foot-8, 250-pound power forward with limited range and questionable touch - ever had a coach design a play for him?

Um, no.

"One time, we were playing Charlotte and I was posting up Mugsy Bogues [the now-retired 5-foot-3 point guard who played for the Charlotte Hornets]" said Evans, who was acquired by the Toronto Raptors in a trade last week for Jason Kapono. "And then, I woke up."

Evans gave up dreaming about getting regular touches on the offensive end early in his seven-year career, when he was breaking into the NBA with the old Seattle SuperSonics, coached at the time by Nate McMillan.

On a team that featured Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Gary Payton, Evans saw the writing on the backboard, as it were.

"Coach Nate sat me down and told me what I needed to do to be in the league," Evans said. "I was like, 'That's it? Cool.'"

The job description was: Hit the opposition, relentlessly chase down the ball after missed shots, pass to people who are paid to score, repeat - and Evans has happily followed the script.

The NBA is full of talented players who don't get to show it because they're buried on the bench for failing to recognize there are essential chores that have nothing to do with putting the ball in the basket. There are even more talented basketball players who never make it to the NBA for the same reason.

Evans is the polar opposite: a player with limited skills who fully embraces life without scoring, as reflected by his career average of 4.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game.

"My opponents respect me," said Evans, who was in Toronto for the first time as a member of the Raptors yesterday. "A lot of guys who don't want to do what I do, they're not in the league. … It's crazy, I don't score but I'm in the league. There's a place for me."

There's certainly a place for him in Toronto. The Raptors haven't had as an abrasive on-court presence since the glory days of Charles Oakley.

The personable big man doesn't mind rubbing people the wrong way in practice either, making him a necessary piece of sandpaper in a dressing room that has been short on grit recently.

"I don't bite my tongue," said Evans, 29. "If I feel something isn't right, I'm not going to look to the coach: 'Coach, can you tell him.' I'll tell him myself. The only way to get better is to work hard. If you want to relax, go sit down or go home."

With Evans on board, the Raptors have begun to address their deficiencies in toughness and rebounding. The club is also continuing to work out prospects in advance of the June 25 NBA draft, with players such as Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings coming into focus.

Toronto also tendered its qualifying offer to shooting guard Carlos Delfino, a restricted free agent who played in Russia last season and who is expected to re-sign with the Raptors for the 2009-10 NBA season.

Indications are the club is also leaning toward using the roughly $10-million (U.S.) it has available under the salary cap to resign their own free agents and then add a player by way of the mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception.

Regardless of the final mix, Evans knows what needs to happen if the ingredients are going to make a cake.

"The only way to succeed in this game is certain people have to bring certain things to the table," he said. "Everyone has different roles. Mine is playing tough guys at my position and rebounding and bringing a lot of energy to the game. I have fun doing that. I don't mind doing that. It's a perfect fit."







 

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