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Evan Turner, Celtics see upside in new deal
Pacers guard Evan Turner guards Celtics forward Jeff Green during a March game. (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)
The Herald first reported the deal, noting that, according to sources, the 2010 second-overall NBA draft pick will receive a portion of the Celts' mid-level exception. Turner's representative, David Falk, acknowledged the agreement last night. Terms were not confirmed, but sources say Turner will have the opportunity to cash in when the NBA's salary cap rises significantly, as expected in 2016.
The sides had been in discussion nearly every day since July 1. Turner, traded from Philadelphia to Indiana in February, became an unrestricted free agent when the Pacers declined to extend him the $8.7-million qualifying offer.
The deal carries little risk for the Celtics, who have been shuffling their roster looking for value while hoping to make a trade that will allow them to become competitive sooner.
Turner has been criticized for his inefficiency, but some scouts have attributed that to his trying to live up to his high draft position rather than simply settling in and playing his well-rounded, if less spectacular, game.
The 6-foot-7 Ohio State product averaged 17.4 points (on 42.8 percent shooting), 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 54 games for Philadelphia last season before slipping to 7.1, 3.2 and 2.4 in shorter minutes in 27 games with Indiana.
"There's tremendous upside in the opportunity for both sides," said Falk. "I think the Celtics got an old-school Celtic-type player who's very, very talented, has a very high basketball IQ and is highly motivated to prove to people that he's not the player who ended the year in Indiana.
"I think he was probably the most undervalued free agent on the market. Evan was in a dramatically different situation the day before the deadline than he was when he finished the year. He didn't get a lot of playing time in Indiana unfortunately.
"But that's history. There's nothing we can do to change that. This is a situation where he can come and grow as a player. I think Brad (Stevens) realizes he's a multi-dimensional player."
Turner played at Ohio State for Stevens' former Butler boss, Thad Matta, and coaching appears to have played a major role in Turner's decision.
"There are teams that offered him one-year deals. There are teams that offered him multi-year deals," said Falk. "But I think the deal here is secondary to the environment.
"Boston all along has been probably our No. 1 destination. I felt what Evan needed was to kind of replicate the relationship that he had with coach Brett Brown in Philadelphia. ... We were really looking mostly for an environment more than geography."
Falk admitted his clear bias, but he supported his case that the trade from the 76ers cost his client.
"Had Evan stayed in Philly with those kind of numbers, more than likely he would have made in excess of $10 million a year," he said. "So we obviously didn't want to lock him into a long-term kind of a deal, and I think, likewise, the Celtics want to see. They know Evan was the national Player of the Year (in 2009-10). They know that over the last two years he's averaged 14, 6 and 4 (13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists), which are pretty good numbers. So I think this is an opportunity for him to re-establish his value in a new environment.
"I think if you'd asked most GMs in February when Evan was averaging 17, 6 and almost 4, I think they all would have expected that he'd be a treasured free agent," Falk added. "Unfortunately in the NBA, we tend to be very trendy. When you're up, you're really up. When you're down, you're really down. Sometimes people don't modulate in the middle."
There is little on the line for the Celtics with this deal. If Turner realizes his potential, he will be a steal at the price. If he is not a good fit here, he will still be making several million less than Gerald Wallace or Jeff Green.