JASON KAPONO has won two NBA All-Star Weekend three-point contests, flashing in shots from all the designated areas with impressive regularity.
But given the choice, he'd much rather take those shots in games.
And now, acquired from the Toronto Raptors for power forward Reggie Evans, he'll be taking them for the 76ers.
"Shooting them off a rack isn't something you practice," the newest Sixer said last night. "In a game, it's easier coming off a screen or getting a pass out of penetration. I'd rather do that than take them off a rack.
"I'm excited, because it's a young, athletic team and I really like the way they play, especially when they go small with Thaddeus [Young] at the '4' [power forward]. And since they traded Kyle Korver, they haven't had a knockdown jump shooter."
The Sixers needed to upgrade their perimeter game, and they did that with yesterday's deal. They had to spend a little money to make it happen, because Kapono has two seasons remaining on his contract at $6.2 million and $6.6 million, while Evans is owed $4.6 million and $5 million.
That, though, didn't seem to be an issue for Sixers president/general manager Ed Stefanski, who had been talking with Bryan Colangelo, his Raptors counterpart, since just after the conclusion of their respective seasons.
It also helps reduce the logjam of candidates at the power forward/center positions, particularly with the return of Elton Brand and Jason Smith from injuries and the ability of Marreese Speights and Young to help at multiple spots.
And never mind that, at least for the moment, the Sixers - with Andre Miller an unrestricted free agent - don't have an experienced penetrating point guard. That is likely to be one of the subjects brought up when Stefanski addresses reporters in a telephone conference call today; the Sixers hold the No. 17 pick in the first round of the June 25 draft, and seem bent on taking a point guard.
"But that team has a lot guys who penetrate; it doesn't matter which position they penetrate from; most jump shots come off penetration," Kapono said. "The best part is when a team makes a trade, because they feel you have a skill they need. Some players have a hard time dealing with [trades], but I'm a very positive person."
The trade will become official after Kapono and Evans pass physical examinations, probably next week, with their respective new teams. Evans did not respond to multiple messages left by the Daily News.
In a statement, Stefanski referred to Kapono as "one of the league's most prolific three-point shooters;" he goes into the 2009-10 season tied with Steve Kerr for the highest three-point percentage in history at .454. He holds career averages of 7.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 19.2 minutes and has made 61 starts in 401 appearances over six seasons. He appeared in all but two games this season, averaging 8.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and a career-best 1.3 assists, shooting 43.2 percent from the floor, 42.8 from beyond the arc and 81.0 from the foul line.
Kapono, 28, was a McDonald's All-American at Artesia High in Lakewood, Calif., and scored 2,095 points in four seasons at UCLA, the only player to lead the Bruins in scoring in four successive seasons. He was a member of the U.S. select team that trained and scrimmaged with the U.S. national team that won the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics.
But Colangelo felt he needed to add some physicality to his roster, and saving a little money didn't hurt.
"We're changing the dynamic of our club with this move," he said. "This obviously addresses a few areas of need . . . [The Sixers] probably had too many 'bigs' and we probably had too many finesse players. Jason performed great at times . . . but you make changes, you move on. Jason will probably benefit from being with a new organization, a new situation."
Evans came to the Sixers from Denver with the rights to Ricky Sanchez in a deal for Steven Hunter and Bobby Jones in September 2007. He averaged 3.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 79 games this season, making seven starts. He has ranked in the top 10 in rebounds per 48 minutes played in each of the last six seasons. *
For more Sixers coverage, read
the Daily News' Sixers blog, Sixerville, at