Maurice Evans remains sidelined with a sore right knee and will get an MRI when the Wizards return home from Milwaukee. Evans re-signed with the Wizards before their preseason opener but has been unable to practice the past week after development pain and swelling in his surgically-repaired knee.
“I got to see why my knee is swollen, and we can go from there, so I can be effective out there,” Evans said. “I know, going out there at 70 percent, 60 percent, isn’t going to help this team right now. We understand that we’ve got guys who are playing and some of them are playing pretty well in my position, so it’s no point in trying. I could be insurance right now, obviously, but the reason they brought me in to be a veteran presence and truly help these young guys.”
Evans, 33, traveled with the team, despite knowing that he would be unable to play. He gave each starter a hug and some words of encouragement on Wednesday before they took the floor against the Hawks.
“That’s part of my job. I’ve got a lot of experience. I’ve been in the playoffs every year,” said Evans, who had made the playoffs in each of his first eight seasons before the Hawks dealt him to the Wizards at the trade deadline last season. “I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of great players. KG in his prime. Kobe in his prime. Chris Webber and Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, etc. I came into the league when Chauncey was a backup and on the second unit with me in Minnesota. So I’m trying to share with these guys those experiences, those stories, because sometimes, guys have a sense of entitlement. Some guys don’t have that understanding. This is their first experience; they’ve never been through this situation before.”
Coach Flip Saunders planned a slow progression for Evans, who spent most of the past few months shuttling to New York and helping to negotiate the latest collective bargaining agreement.
“I told him, he left his legs in the boardroom,” Saunders joked, recently. “We’ve got to work with him to get ready. I say that kiddingly, but it’s the truth. These other guys when they were out, working out, playing these exhibition games, he was sitting at a desk, drinking pop, Coca-Cola, and eating cookies and brownies. So he’s got some catching up.”
Saunders said if Evans can come back healthy, he might possibly use him the way he did veteran Lindsey Hunter in Detroit, where Hunter rested for much of the year but got important minutes late in the season and in the playoffs.
“When we were going to neeed him was down the road,” he said. “We didn’t want to wear him out and we wanted to be conscious of some of those guys, same thing with some of our older players, like Rashard. There might be games where we come in and day tonight, we’re not going to play him. Because to play him a lot of minutes would be counterproductive with what we want to do over the long haul.”
Evans said that despite his visible presence in collective bargaining negotiations, he didn’t dismiss his responsibilities to prepare for the upcoming season. “I still trained. Before my knee really started to act up, I had a few great days of practice. Then you know, the coaches were joking, that you’re finally shaking the rust off, got your legs back, and then all of sudden, my knee started ballooning up, and I had soreness on the inside of my knee. I know that feeling. I’ve had surgery on it before. If I’ve done something in practice that contributed to it or not, that’s what I’m fearful of.”