Tyreke Evans May Sit With Injured Foot
Update: At practice Tuesday, Tyreke Evans clarified the amount of time he'd miss if he underwent a procedure to alleviate the plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Instead of missing "three to four months," like he said Monday, he could miss "about one or two."
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Welcome to Kings Land 2010, where even the slightest bit of good news is -- somehow, someway -- always quickly followed by something bad.
And the way things are going, that trend is about to spill right over into 2011.
Losing an eighth straight game wasn't the focus immediately after they fell, 100-99, to the Clippers on Monday night, as the Kings' spirits were raised from the depths based solely on the outing of second-year guard Tyreke Evans. He scored a season-high 32 points in retro fashion, finally looking like the player who won the Rookie of the Year award last season just one game after a loss to Milwaukee marked a new low for the league's worst team.
But Evans, who has dealt with a mild case of plantar fasciitis for much of the season in which his production has drastically declined, revealed afterward that he is considering having a procedure done on his left foot to alleviate the condition that would sideline him for "three to four months."
"Hopefully (the plantar fasciitis) will go away soon," said Evans, whose 30-point outing against Memphis on Nov. 6 was his only other 30-plus point scoring game of the season. "I talked to my agent (Bob Myers) today, and I was thinking about (the procedure). ... He's going to let me know and we'll see what's up. I'll just keep that in mind, whether I want to just keep playing through it or get (the procedure) over with."
A source close to Evans said he had already decided to do the procedure which involves laser treatment soon, but the sudden rediscovery of his game and swagger might mean he delays the procedure until after the All-Star break or perhaps the offseason. Evans said Kings coach Paul Westphal indicated that he would be supportive of his player no matter the final decision.
"I talked to coach, and told him, 'If I have to a chance to (fix it), and that is my decision, would it be alright if I just get it done?'" Evans said. "He said, 'Yeah, just do whatever it takes to get healthy.' That's my main thing. Do whatever it takes to get healthy. Without my body, I can't perform, so that's the most important thing."
The focus on Evans' medical issues and the part they played in his struggles came in stark contrast to the events on Thursday, when he stated definitively that the foot was a non-factor in his play and Kings coach Paul Westphal cited personal issues as the possible culprit. Westphal's announcement was unexpected on all fronts, as even Evans' family members were unclear on what was troubling the 21-year-old.
Unbelievable as that might seem, he is the quietest of personalities, not only soft-spoken by nature but prone to internalizing his problems when they arise. His mother, Bonita, was well aware of that fact early Friday morning, when she knocked on the door of his suburban home after midnight and demanded a sitdown with the youngest of her five sons. The two talked for more than an hour in his bedroom, Evans said, and the conversation had everything to do with his ability to play freely and confidently again on Monday.
"I didn't want to talk to nobody (that night)," said Evans, whose mother is visiting from Pennsylvania with his grandmother. "My brothers called, and I didn't want to talk. (Then) my mom knocked on my door, and she just said, 'Open the door.' She wanted to have a talk with me."
Evans had clearly not been himself, as he entered Monday's game with significant decreases in his scoring (20.1 points per game last season to 16.2), field-goal percentage (45.8 to 37.6), assists (5.8 to 5.2) and rebounds (5.3 to 4.8). His mother didn't need to see the numbers to know he hadn't been the same.
"I told her I didn't feel like talking, and ... she said, 'I'll break the door down,' so I decided to open it," Evans said. "That helped me to have a talk with her, because ... I'm not the type of person to tell people what's going on (but) that talk helped me out a lot.
"She kind of boosted my confidence. She was saying 'Play basketball the way you play.' She's known me longer than anybody. She knows what I can do. I said, 'You're right, I've just got to put everything in the past and go out there and play.' She told me I was playing like s**t and I just had to deal with it."
It wasn't the only sign of support Evans received. There were text messages from former Memphis coaches John Calipari and Rod Strickland, too, but none matched the impact of Kings swingman Francisco Garcia.
After the Kings' loss to the Bucks, the sixth-year veteran stood in front of the team and announced that "we go as (Evans) goes." Garcia, who has long been seen as one of the few leader-types in Sacramento in recent seasons, followed that up with a phone call to Evans after the game and a long text message on Christmas day to ensure he didn't forget the message.
"He has given me the best support on the team, because he knows what I can do," Evans said. "That boosted my energy up a little bit to see what somebody on my team who's a leader that cares."
While Evans said his personal situation will remain private, he doesn't anticipate it affecting his play like it did before. He did everything but finish the game off against the Clippers, coming up empty on two key late possessions while the visitors won for the fifth time in their last six games.
With 8.9 seconds left, Evans' driving layup to the right was blocked by Baron Davis. But he was fouled by Ryan Gomes shooting a 3-pointer from the right wing moments later, only to miss one of three free throws with 1.9 seconds and leave the Kings trailing by one. Kings rookie forward DeMarcus Cousins missed a putback tip attempt off the missed free throw, and Evans corralled the rebound only to misfire on a shot from inside the lane.
Yet even with the Kings losing for the 22nd time in their last 24 tries, Evans' night was a much-needed sign that he was back.
"(The personal situation) is over now, and now it's time to play basketball," he said.
Unless, of course, there's a season-ending foot procedure right around the corner.
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