LIKE JUST about every NBA player who doesn't know if and when the upcoming season will begin, Sacramento Kings star Tyreke Evans has busied himself preparing as if there will be in the near future. And just like many of his peers, he is no closer to knowing what's going on than the fans who pay to see him play.
"People think that we know more because we're players, but we're just like them, we're clueless," Evans said yesterday at the Science and Discovery High School in his native Chester, where he was joining with VSP Vision Care to help provide free eye exams to students in need.
One thing Evans does know is that he will be participating in one of the most hyped exhibition contests this city has seen in a while when Team Melo and Team Philly square off in "The Battle of I-95" at the Palestra on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Scheduled to play for Team Melo, headed by Carmelo Anthony, are LeBron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, among others. Scheduled participants for the Philly team include Evans, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Hakim Warrick and Sixers guard Lou Williams.
Tickets went on sale yesterday at www.pennathletics.com for the event, which will begin at 6 p.m.
"I think I'm going to play in that, why not? There's nothing else to do," Evans said.
It was confirmed last night that he will be there.
As he sat in a mobile optometry office in the parking lot at the high school, Evans constantly had one of his legs shaking, as if he was late for an appointment. Most likely, though, he is getting antsy for the powers that be to get a collective bargaining agreement ironed out so that he can get back to doing what he enjoys most in the best league in the world.
"It's up to the owners and the [general managers] to get this thing settled so we can get on the road," he said. "I love the game so much, I've got to play. Any chance I get I want to get out there and run up and down and play. I've been playing since I was 4, so for me not to have a season would kind of be frustrating, but at the same time that's how it goes. Maybe I'll go overseas, I don't know yet. I'll have to see how it plays out."
Meanwhile, he'll enjoy visiting family and friends in the area, find some good places to work out and then jump on the Palestra floor later in the month. Shortly after, he will head back to the West Coast.
"I work out in Santa Monica [Calif.], I work out in LA," Evans said. "It's nice there. I've been working with D-Rose [Chicago's Derrick Rose] and [Oklahoma City's] Russell Westbrook. Plus, my high school coach, Tony Bergeron [American Christian Academy] took a job in LA. He came out and my trainer shocked me by bringing him to my house. He was a great coach for me. He worked me harder than I'd ever been worked before. He pushed me hard to become a better player. It'll be good to have him around."
Evans is looking for something good after one of the most frustrating years in his basketball life. Last season, he missed 25 games due to plantar fasciitis. At such a young age (he'll be 22 on Monday) and after a rookie-of-the-year season in 2009-10 when he averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds, Evans hadn't foreseen such problems in his second season.
"I had trouble with the injury; being only 21 years old, I thought I could just play through it," he said. "I'm young and I wasn't really thinking about the injury and that really affected my game. I had to realize that it wasn't the way that I normally play basketball. It hurt like heck. I would get it loose and be able to play, but afterward I could hardly walk. And the next morning getting out of bed, I was really sore. I realized that I had to take it easy. And it worked out. Now I'm 100 percent, the foot doesn't hurt at all anymore and I'm ready to play."
He will on Sept. 25. After that, who knows?
No word on when the NBA board of governors might approve the sale of the Sixers to Joshua Harris and company . . . Should training camp start on time, which seems to be quite a longshot, it would be Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Saint Joseph's.