Reggie's ready to roar

Reggie Evans' return presents both solutions and problems for the Raptors. (QMI Agency/Craig...

Reggie Evans' return presents both solutions and problems for the Raptors. (QMI Agency/Craig Robertson)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 AM ET

To date he has been little more than a passionate Raptors cheerleader in a wrinkled linen sports jacket who just happened to have one of the best seats in the house.

He has been extremely visible, but not for the right reasons.

That should all change on Wednesday night when Reggie Evans is expected to take the court for the first time in a regular-season game in an Raptors uniform. And no one is happier about that than Evans himself.

And it's not just because he can put the jacket, one of two he owns and has taken plenty of ribbing about from teammates and followers of his Twitter account alike. It has been almost four months since Evans, who already was earning a reputation as an integral part of this team in training camp, had to be helped off the floor during a pre-season game in Hartford with what at the time appeared to be a mild mid-foot sprain.

That mild sprain turned out to be much more and it only has been the last few weeks that Evans has even been able to practise with his team again and properly test the foot.

Head coach Jay Triano has seen enough in practice that he's considering getting Evans somewhere between five and eight minutes of court time against his former club, the Philadelphia 76ers, on Wednesday night.

But Evans' return presents both solutions and problems.

Brought in to address the Raptors' lack of toughness in the off-season and with a motor that doesn't appear to have an off switch, Evans' return can't help but give the presently high-flying Raptors another boost.

His presence in games against physically punishing, at times intimidating teams like the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets will be a huge benefit the Raptors.

As Chris Bosh said Monday after practice: "Reggie only has one speed. He plays very, very hard. Just to have a guy like him back is good for us."

The problem, and there really is only one, is finding time for Evans without it coming at the cost of an equally deserving talent.

In the Raptors equation that would mean one Amir Johnson, who arguably has been the most consistent Raptor on the floor this season not named Chris Bosh.

From Day 1, Johnson has given this team energy, a rebounding presence and a kick-start from the second unit that often times has been missing in the first.

And lately he's providing his own healthy contribution to the offence as well. How do you sit a guy like that down?

Head coach Jay Triano isn't ready to make any binding decisions on how he'll handle that just yet.

While he admits he has not given it much thought yet because he wants to see what almost four months of accumulated rust has done to Evans' game, he did admit that matchups likely will be the determining factor.

"I'm just curious to see what he can and can't do once he gets out there in a game," Triano said. "He's bumping and banging guys around here (in practice) and he brought great energy in pre-season but we have to find out what he can do in a game."

Bosh and Andrea Bargnani's minutes aren't going to be affected. That much is obvious.

Right now Johnson is averaging just over 17 minutes a night. For the vast majority of nights this season, those have been 17 quality minutes.

What does Evans have to show to take away from that and if he does take away from it, does it upset the balance of a team that is functioning as good as it has all year?

Coaches say this is a nice problem to have, but at what point and to what extent do you risk messing up a good thing?

Triano has had his challenges this year and for the most part solved them. This is just the latest on the list.


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