COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Saturday's morning practice was over, and most of the Kings had retreated to the training area for rest, packs of ice and a head start on getting on the bus back to the hotel.
But Tyreke Evans was in no rush to leave the court. He opted to take more jump shots with teammate Isaiah Thomas and coach Bobby Jackson.
That's "a step" toward improvement, said coach Keith Smart.
"He's trying to grow," Smart said. "He could easily be one of those guys, icing, talking to guys. But he knows where he's at. But that's the thing, seeing him now, four years in, it's starting to sink in. 'When coaches were trying to get me to come back and shoot, that's why. Oh now, I know.' Now the motor's churning."
Evans plans to show he got the message by showing off an improved jump shot this season.
Evans shot 60 percent (295 of 492) within five feet of the rim last season and 27.7 percent (113 of 408) from beyond. He won the 2010 Rookie of the Year award based on his driving ability.
It looked too easy. Then injuries and collapsing defenses dared Evans to rely on an unreliable jump shot.
"People just started looking at film and started trying to keep me from going to the basket," he said. "This year, I'm going to have to go to the pull-up (jump shot). I'm still going to go in there, no matter what, but I want to go to the pull-up too."
Smart believes Evans' work isn't motivated by the prospect of a new contract. The deadline for Evans to receive an extension is Oct. 31. The coach says Evans is simply growing up.
"Here, you're playing against Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, and they're backing off, inviting you to shoot," Smart said. "That's telling you that you haven't worked on your shooting. He isn't disrespecting you; that's just telling you that you have work, son."
So Evans went to work, determined to show up in training camp in shape and with better shooting mechanics.
He said he didn't keep tabs on how many jump shots he took this summer, but he knows he took a lot.
Evans has a key to the Kings' practice facility and got in a lot of late-night shooting sessions, earning him the nickname "Cat Burglar."
He focused on his form. That meant not leaning back and kicking out his leg on jump shots.
"I just try to go straight up and down," Evans said. "Every time I'd go and lean back, I'd just think to myself to go straight up."
Evans' dedication hasn't gone unnoticed.
"He's way more focused," said DeMarcus Cousins. "He's in good shape, and he's ready to turn things around. He wants to get this thing turned around as well."
A more mature Evans is a good thing for the Kings. Their backcourt is small, except for the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Evans. The question is, will the summer work show up when the Kings begin playing games?
"(Evans has) always been a guy who wanted to (improve), but you had to give him a plan and a staff that won't leave until the last person leaves the building," Smart said.
They certainly don't mind if Evans keeps them waiting after practice or even late into the night.
KINGS PRESEASON SCHEDULE
Date / Opponent / Site / Time
Wednesday / Phoenix / Power Balance / 7 p.m.
Mon., Oct. 15 / Portland / Power Balance / 7 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 17 / Golden State / Power Balance / 7 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 19 / L.A. Lakers / Las Vegas / 7 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 21 / L.A. Lakers / Staples Center / 6:30 p.m. Mon., Oct. 22 / Phoenix / Phoenix / 7 p.m.
Thu., Oct. 25 / L.A. Lakers / San Diego / 7 p.m.