We're now close enough to NBA training camps that only a few unfilled jobs actually exist on the market. For the aging veterans and hopeful youngsters looking for work, those gigs become even more coveted than usual.
Long-time NBA swingman Maurice Evans, perhaps best known in recent seasons for his vest-with-no-jacket ensembles during NBPA lockout press conferences, is one of those players looking for a new job. After last season's work as a veteran presence for the lowly Washington Wizards, Evans has garnered little interest in free agency.
However, Evans doesn't only provide value for what he does on the court. In fact, he's willing to do pretty much anything to help the team, even if that involves making sure that rookies and second-year pros don't miss planes for road trips. From Jeff Zillgitt for USA Today:
"Given that I'm a veteran, I know where my value lies," Evans, 33, told USA TODAY Sports. "At this stage of the game and at this stage in my life, I'm waiting for the place I feel God has already marked for me. The impact I can make is not only on the floor, it's even more so in the locker room and the community. That's the marquee value I bring to the table." [...]
But it's his locker room presence that made an impact in Washington. Last season, Evans filled that leadership role as a mentor to guards John Wall and Jordan Crawford. One person with knowledge of the Wizards' season said Crawford would have been late to the airport for a handful of road trips had Evans not picked him up. The person, who requested anonymity because Evans is still trying to reach a deal, also said almost every player credited Evans for his leadership and advice during their exit interviews.
Evans goes on to explain that he can help a veteran team, too, but I think he is burying his most valuable contributions. If Crawford needed help making multiple planes, then clearly having someone to make sure he gets there on time was valuable to the team. Sure, the Wizards went an awful 9-24 on the road last season, but just imagine how few games they would have won if Evans hadn't been there to help out Jordan Crawford.
Really, it seems prudent for every team to have someone in this role. Sure, Anthony Davis might seem to have a good head on his exceedingly broad shoulders, but what would happen if he failed to show up for several media availabilities in the same week? These veterans don't only have to serve as babysitters, but surely they can help to acclimate their young colleagues to the life of the NBA.
Or, you know, everyone could just learn how to operate and honor an alarm clock.