THIS, Reggie Evans said, was a first.
"Seven years in the [NBA], each time the season ended, I was always on a plane for home [Pensacola, Fla.] the next day," Evans said yesterday. "This time, I stayed in Philly a week-and-a-half. I never did that.
"I was getting real comfortable. We had put in 2 years together, but it was an unfortunate situation for me, because we were loaded at my position."
"We" used to be the 76ers. That changed Tuesday when the Sixers sent the power forward to the Toronto Raptors for shooting forward/big guard Jason Kapono.
"Honestly, looking at who [the Sixers] got, I really couldn't be mad," Evans said. "There's nothing to be mad about. It's business. I see the direction they're going in.
"They've been looking for a shooter since [president/general manager] Ed Stefanski got there. Kareem Rush didn't really have an opportunity, Donyell Marshall had played 14 years in the league, couldn't play a full season. Now, they've got somebody who can spread the offense."
That would be the 6-8 Kapono, a two-time winner of the NBA All-Star Weekend three-point contest.
"[New coach Eddie Jordan's] thing is, he can play the guard and the swing [forward] position," Stefanski said during a telephone news conference yesterday. "We're happy to get a shooter of his ilk."
Later, Stefanski said, "Eddie had a big smile on his face when we told him we got [Kapono]."
The move doesn't seem to affect the Sixers' plans to search for a guard with the No. 17 pick in the NBA's June 25 draft.
"I think we're going to be looking for the best guard available, which is what we've been talking about all along," Stefanski said. "[Jordan] is more concerned about [getting] the best player at one of those [backcourt] positions."
Stefanski said he received messages from, among others, Sixers Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, all of whom are pleased with the acquisition of Kapono.
"Not that they didn't like Reggie, but we've been sorely missing a player like this," Stefanski said.
Kapono said he would benefit from the various athletic people at different positions, who via penetration and screens could provide him with open shots. Kapono won the All-Star shooting contests in 2007 and '08 and is tied with Steve Kerr for the highest three-point shooting percent in history at 45.4.
For his part, Evans looks forward to finding a role with the Raptors, who have a need for frontcourt toughness, defense and rebounding.
"I try to make the best of wherever I go," Evans said. "I haven't missed the playoffs in 5 years. I didn't make a step backward [with the trade]; they can utilize me. The way I look at it, everybody kind of broke even."
Temple's Dionte Christmas and former Episcopal Academy star Wayne Ellington are among five predraft candidates scheduled to work out for the Sixers today at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Christmas, the fourth player to surpass 2,000 points with the Owls (2,043), became the first player to lead the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring three times. Ellington, who won the NCAA championship with North Carolina, averaged 14.7 points over three seasons and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four . . . Today's other candidates: Darren Collison, UCLA, the Naismith Award winner as the best college player 6-foot or under; Jack McClinton, who shot 44 percent from three-point distance in three seasons at Miami after transferring from Siena; and Marcus Thornton, LSU, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year . . . Villanova's Dwayne Anderson is among a group working out today for the Charlotte Bobcats . . . The Sixers announced that forward/center Jason Smith, returning from left knee surgery, was cleared to do basketball work, and will wear a brace for 2 to 3 months. On the day Eddie Jordan was introduced as the new coach, Smith said he he expected to be ready for training camp in October. *
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