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The Value of Reggie Evans

The HQ discusses the likelihood of Reggie Evans' return next season...

And we're back.

Sort of.

The last week or so has been a myriad of work travel, friends' wedding events, and even an attempt at getting in some vacation time.

So it feels good to get back in a Raptor-state of mind.

Again...well...kind of.

Usually around this time of the year NBA fans begin to enter a bit of a dead zone as Summer League has concluded, the free agent signing period has calmed down, and teams begin to put the "gone fishing" sign up for the next while.

This year though with the lock-out in full effect, the dead zone seems that much more deafening in terms of the NBA-wide silence it's brought forth.

However at some point this work stoppage will reach its conclusion and therefore I figured we'll soldier on in preparation for when that time comes.  The past two weeks we took a look at free agent options for the Raptors by position, and this week I thought we'd look at Toronto's own free agents, and if any of the bunch are worth retaining. Names like Reggie Evans, Julian Wright and Joey Dorsey all were options in terms of being retained, however the question is, "does retaining any of these names make sense?"

This morning I thought we'd start with a look at Mr. Reggie Evans.

Evans is a 31 year old vet of 8 NBA seasons, including stops in Seattle, Denver, Philly and Toronto.

His career averages hardly leap out at you (4.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 0.6 assists), and his PER has consistently been below the league average of 15.  (He's got an average PER of 11.6 over his career.)

Factor in his salary last year of $5.1M and at face value, it's hard to see why a team would want to employ the former University of Iowa banger.

However we Raptors' fans know better.

Evans, when healthy, was a beast on the glass, averaging nearly 12 rebounds a game for the Dinos last season helping to result in a wins produced metric of 5.3, one of the best marks on the team.  Considering the club won only 22 games, this means that Reggie was accountable for nearly a quarter of them himself, a staggering mark when you factor in that he played in only 30 matches.

Based on this, Wages of Wins actually calculated his value this coming season as $5.86M, meaning Reggie would be getting a raise at 31.

The question then I put to everyone this morning is, "does it make sense to bring Reggie Evans back?"

At five and half million or so, I don't think so, for three main reasons.

For starters, and as we recently identified, the Raptors are only working with about $7M under the current CBA. Re-signing Reggie for the amount Wins Produced says he's worth would eat into nearly that whole piece.

That's fine if the team was getting a starting caliber option, but a 31-year old player with extremely limited offensive ability?

That's a bit rich for my blood.

As well, it's quite possible that Reggie's value from a rebounding standpoint is inflated.

An article during this past playoffs by SB Nation's Tom Ziller points out that having a great offensive rebounding club doesn't necessarily make for a successful one.  NBA coaches have been moving away from emphasizing the offensive rebound as a weapon, looking more to get stops in transition and emphasize team D.  Very few of the league's top defensive teams last year were juggernauts on the offensive glass, something backed up by Toronto's 11.8 mark, eighth best in the NBA.

Yet as we know, their D...not so great.

And if Reggie had played 75 to 80 games instead of 30, I'm not so sure we'd see much of a difference in this respect.

After all, the Minnesota Timberwolves finished with the league's best offensive rebounding mark thanks to Mr. Kevin Love, yet finished in the basement record-wise thanks to yes, some horrific D.

Considering the need by the Dinos to shore things up in this respect, paying Reggie essentially the mid-level doesn't make a ton of sense.

Second, Reggie's strength and position are duplicated by two of the roster's most promising young players, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson.  These two produced another 12.6 wins for Toronto last year, and need more touches going forward.

And finally health and history have to factor in as well.

Reggie's has played in only 29 games on average the past two seasons, has never played in 82, and it's doubtful at 31 that he's suddenly going to convert into some ironman.

No, as much as Reggie is a true fan favourite for Toronto, I think the Raps will have to move on here.

That is unless they can get him on the cheap.

If Evans is available for a veteran-ish $1.4 - $2M or so, what guys like Big Z, Eddie House and Matt Barnes made last year, then this changes everything.  After all, we're still talking about someone with one of the most ridiculous rebounding abilities of all time, and an underrated passer on top of that.

How ridiculous a rebounder was Evans last year for Toronto?

His rebounding rate was 25.6.

Dwight Howard's best rate ever was 22, in the 2009-10 season.

He might not be able to do a lot of different things, but the one thing he does well, he simply does better than nearly anyone else in the league.

Factor in his leadership traits and locker-room presence, and suddenly you've got someone that for the right price, makes a great option off the pine next season.

However I don't expect to see Reggie back in a Raptors' jersey when the 2011-12 season finally gets underway. Players with his toughness and rebounding ability are always in demand, and I expect some team to out-bid Toronto for his services.

It's a shame because on a young and developing team, one with a new coach who likely wants his team to play more akin to Mr. Evans, retaining Reggie would be a great move.

Unfortunately I don't think the price will be right, and that means a lot less 22 rebound individual efforts...

...not to mention quotes about "killing bags of Skittles..."