Pistons make offer to Sacramento player who would back up Prince Wednesday, August 24, 2005 By A. Sherrod Blakely
AUBURN HILLS -- The Detroit Pistons have been one of the best NBA teams at finding top-flight talent at a bargain basement price. They may have found another gem in restricted free agent Maurice Evans, who will be offered a multiyear contract as early as today.
The Sacramento Kings, the team for which Evans played last season, will have seven days to match the offer that will start at about $1.5 million per season. The length of the contract has yet to be determined.
Acquiring Evans would address one of the Pistons' biggest offseason needs -- acquiring a backup for Tayshaun Prince.
Team officials said repeatedly following Detroit's runner-up finish to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals that finding a suitable backup for Prince a key part of the offseason.
There was a noticeable decline in Prince's play during the playoffs at times, something team officials believe was caused by him logging too many minutes.
Detroit didn't address the need during the NBA draft. Instead, they drafted a pair of power forwards (Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson) and a point guard (Alex Acker).
The Pistons didn't address it earlier this week when they reached a two-year, $7 million deal with veteran center Dale Davis, a deal that took them out of the running for small forward Michael Finley.
While Evans isn't all that familiar with the Pistons roster, he does know Detroit's new head coach, Flip Saunders. Evans, undrafted when he left the University of Texas in 2001, spent his rookie season with the Saunders in Minnesota. He appeared in just 10 games for the Timberwolves. After that, Evans took his game to Europe, where he dominated the competition.
The Kings recognized his ability, and brought him back to the NBA last season, when he averaged 6.4 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 32.9 percent from 3-point range. He made 11 starts for the Kings, including one against the Pistons on March 6. In that game, Evans had 12 points and nine rebounds in helping the Kings to a 100-85 win.
Even more significant was during his 37 minutes against Detroit that night, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Evans more than held his own defensively against 6-7 Richard Hamilton and the 6-9 Prince, who each struggled offensively in the game.
If the Kings do not match the offer for Evans, Detroit will have the NBA-maximum 15 players with guaranteed contracts. Acker, the last player selected in June's NBA draft, signed a one-year deal with the Pistons but it would only become guaranteed if he were on the roster in January.