Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans. (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans talks to News10's Ryan Yamamoto and Bryan May.
SACRAMENTO, CA - Training camp opens for the Sacramento Kings this week, but for Tyreke Evans, that happened almost immediately after last season ended.
The 23-year-old Evans hardly took any time off, opting instead to dedicate himself to improving his jump-shot and get in better shape. He remained in Sacramento to work out in the team's training facility to be near teammates and trainers.
Some of the workouts were even conducted alongside Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie.
"We had a good time," Evans said on Sunday, during a lengthy interview at the News10 studios. "Me and him got to know each other a little bit more."
The offseason focus to improve his shooting topped his priorities. Evans said he didn't practice any layups, instead focusing on mid-range and three-point shooting.
Entering his fourth season, Evans is intent on erasing the memories of the last two seasons with a breakout year similar to the one in 2009-10 when he was the NBA's Rookie of the Year.
In that season, he became just the fourth player, joining Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James to average at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a game.
His sophomore season in Sacramento was plagued by injuries. Evans missed 25 games, 19 of them due to plantar fasciitis, but played half the season through the pain.
While healthy for much of the lockout shortened season, Evans' production was still below his rookie season with averages of 16.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game.
Evans was once touted as the Kings point guard of the future, but after his rookie campaign coaches experimented with him at other positions, mainly small forward. This was also due to the stellar season from Isaiah Thomas last season at point guard.
With the ever-changing landscape in the NBA's Western Conference, Evans said he views the Kings as a playoff seed - even as high as seventh. He's tired of the losing season's in Sacramento and believes the team is ready to take the next step.
"It's going to start with me and DeMarcus (Cousins) to lead this team," he said. "We've got to be ready to push our team to be ready for these games this year."
Despite the playoff claim, Evans still isn't quite sure what position he'll play heading into training camp.
"I might be a center this year, I don't know," Evans said with a laugh.
Part of the uncertainty lies with the number of point guards on the team. Thomas emerged as last season's starter, but the team signed veteran point guard Aaron Brooks, who was coveted by Petrie since he entered the league in 2007.
The addition of Brooks could likely move Thomas to the bench leaving Evans to battle for the small forward position to play alongside Marcus Thornton, or steal the starting shooting guard position from Thornton outright.
At the end of this next season, Evans will become a restricted free agent if the Kings do not offer him a contract extension by Oct. 31.
Off the court, Evans has offered a helping hand with Vision Service Plan (VSP), a company that offers eye examinations.
Earlier in the week, Evans and VSP traveled back to his hometown of Chester, PA. and offered free eye exams to residents as part of a citywide health initiative. Thanks to Evans and VSP, Chester will receive free eye exams annually to people without proper health coverage.
The Kings will hold their annual media day on Monday before leaving for Colorado Springs, CO. where they will open their training camp.
"It's going to be a great year this year and it's going to start with training camp," Evans said.
By Sean Cunningham, SCunningham@News10.net