BROOKLYN -- Many people believed Reggie Evans would be upset to be a Sacramento King.
At the end of the day, Im still living out my dream, Evans said.
But if Evans had been angry about being traded from a playoff contender, Brooklyn, to a lottery team, it would have been understandable.
Players with 12 seasons in the NBA are usually chasing a championship, not looking for chances to mentor young players on a struggling team.
But in a nod to the veterans who guided him as an undrafted rookie out of Iowa in 2002 with Seattle, the 6-foot-8 power foward sees this as a chance to reciprocate and pass along what he learned.
So when the Nets traded Evans and Jason Terry for Marcus Thornton last month, Evans embraced the role hell have in his return to Brooklyn on Sunday against the Nets.
Yeah, its fun, said Evans, 33. Weve got a good coaching staff that allows me to do my best to bring some leadership in here. I was in that position when I first got in the league where Rashard (Lewis), Gary Payton and Elden Campbell had to be that leader for me. Now its like theyve passed that torch, and now I can be a leader on a young team. Im the oldest by age and the oldest by years, and they kind of look for that leadership.
Never been a superstar, Evans has stayed in the league because of his tenacity in the paint.
It didnt take long for players such as DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas to listen to Evans advice and for him to gain the respect of his new teammates.
I think some guys are scared of him, Kings coach Michael Malone said with a smile. Reggie is known as a hard-nosed, tough kid who has a lot of experience on a lot of very good teams. And I think from Day One when he came in, he had the respect, and its a different kind of respect.
Unlike other veterans, Evans already has connected with Thomas, Cousins and other players. Evans is direct but not demeaning.
Thats important in a locker room with young players who could be put off as they try to establish themselves in the league.
Some people take advantage of that (leadership role) and overly try to get on guys, Evans said. But I just try to be respectful and also encourage them to continue to work hard. If you miss a shot, so what? Shoot it again. If you miss (a pass to) me, so what? Its the game of basketball make it up on defense. And also just by working hard.
Evans works hard on the court, as he has throughout this career. He has averaged 7.3 points and 8.4 rebounds in seven gamesas an important reserve for the Kings.
Hes been a joy, Malone said. Obviously, on the court, hes been tremendous for us. You knew he could rebound at a high level, he was physical, he could defend. Hes been giving us a lot of scoring that I dont think anybody anticipated. And then his leadership his veteran leadership in the locker room and on the floor has been a huge addition and a positive for the team.
That includes being a role model on the court.
When Milwaukee forward Ersan Ilyasova punched Evans in the stomach and pushed him to the floor during last Wednesdays game, Evans laughed it off.
Evans admits he would have reacted differently in his younger days. But on a team with three players in the top five in technical fouls Cousins, Thomas and Jason Thompson someone has to be level-headed.
I couldnt react to that dude, Evans said. That would be defeating the purpose.
Evans credits his mentors in Seattle with helping him be a leader for the Kings.
I had (Ray) Allen, so I had real, real cool veterans, Evans said. Vitaly Potapenko, Marcus Camby, and then I had Nate (McMillan) and (Dwane) Casey as coaches. It dont get no better than that. I was groomed and rooted by great veterans.
And Evans is glad to pass along all they taught him.