Evans' heart in T.O.

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

His heart leaning toward Toronto, Reggie Evans is keeping an open mind as he enters the uncertainty that is free agency.

At the same time, if a team opens its wallet and gives the veteran a deal he simply can't refuse, Evans has no choice but to accept it.

In two seasons in Toronto, Evans played a total of 58 games, starting 19, a victim both of circumstance and injuries.

As the Raptors move forward, the energy, professionalism, work ethic, rebounding and defence, all the qualities that define Evans, are precisely what the team needs.

But like many of the outstanding issues with the Raptors, Evans is just one question that can't be easily answered.

With an emerging piece in Ed Davis, there's no way the Raptors trade this young asset.

With Amir Johnson coming of age and showing provement, he's suddenly a trade chip, but the caveat remains his contract.

Evans, as of July 1, has no contract, but he'll be presented with options once the NBA and its players' union negotiate a new labour deal.

"Sometimes I don't know how genuine players are, but I really do love these fans here,'' Evans said Thursday as the Raptors conducted their season-end cleansing and season-long retrospective. "I have a really good connection with the fans.

"I love my teammates. They're young, humble and not arrogant. I like being around them because it gives me balance."

At the end of the day, the length of a contract will carry the most clout with Evans, who turns 31 next month.

"There are a lot of green lights with me being here,'' added Evans. "I feel with all the injuries, even though they were out of my control, I owe the fans an 82-game season."

Had he not hurt his foot during last year's pre-season, Evans loomed as the perfect frontcourt complement for the likes of Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani.

When yet another off-season makeover was completed, Evans emerged as a starter alongside Bargnani and Linas Kleiza.

With Bargnani unwilling to rebound the basketball, double-digit games became the norm for Evans, who would hurt his foot in late November.

Given his shortcomings on offence, Evans would be ideal on a team coming off a bench.

In Toronto, especially this past season, Evans was a mentor,

sounding board and a calming voice amid so much losing.

For what it's worth, like a lot of players, Evans enjoyed playing for Jay Triano.

"If I'm playing for Jay, I like playing for Jay. Sometimes you have a real mean coach, and I've experienced it all, but as I get older, Jay is perfect for me.

"He has the right balance for getting on players and knowing when to ease off. He's really open minded. He understands your body and knows not to abuse it.

"He allows you to play hard and have fun. I like that."

For Evans, there's a lot to like about the Raptors, but with so many unknowns there's as much a chance of Evans playing for a new team whenever the NBA tips off its new season as there is in re-signing.


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