Evan Turner, man. He's been an absolute enigma since the Sixers drafted him second overall in 2010. There's nobody in the basketball community without an opinion about Turner. Like a real, unimpeachable opinion. There's no question he's had a tough go of it -- some of which was his own fault, some due to circumstances out of his control -- but there's also no question that in spite of everything, Evan has turned himself into a legitimate professional basketball player. He is undeniably "good" at this level. That certainly wasn't a guarantee over his first three years. It's cool and deserving that he's getting more credit.
With that said, trade season is upon us, so let's see what the Sixers should do with the kid, Evan Turner.
Evan's on the final year of his rookie contract with a Qualifying Offer for $8.71M for next season. He will become a restricted free agent at the end of the year, which means he'll get a chance to test his value on the market while giving the Sixers the opportunity to match
If he isn't traded this season, a Jeff Teague-esque situation could come about. Last offseason, Teague was an RFA when the Milwaukee Bucks low-balled him with a 4 years, $32 million offer. The Hawks weren't in love with the idea of signing Teague, having just drafted Dennis Schroder, but the contract was so team-friendly that they couldn't say no. I highly doubt Evan will get paid what he thinks he deserves, so once the market dries up and he has to take a lesser offer, the Sixers may be hamfisted into matching.
FUTURE WITH SIXERS
Evan certainly doesn't think he has a future with the Sixers, saying back in November "Hinkie is not my GM" and he and the Sixers are "going in a different direction."
But on the other hand, he's been a different player this year. At every level, Evan's been a slow starter, and now in his 4th year in the NBA, without the vacant offensive mind of Doug Collins in his ear, he's put things together more. Tasked with a much bigger role on both ends of the court, Evan's TS% has risen to a career-best 52.5%, mostly attributed to his newfound propensity for getting to the foul line -- almost 5 times a game.
That being said, his play has tailed off significantly. In December, his percentages are down across the board. A lot of that is due to the injury of Michael Carter-Williams, who Evan has surprisingly played quite well with, considering they both need the ball to succeed. Evan's turnovers are up, his free throws are down, his shooting is down, his passing is down. He's, at times, on a LouWill level of frustrating to watch. HeroBall shots forced and blocked, long two's taken early in the shot clock, complaining to the refs. Most Sixers fans will not be terribly sad to see him go.
So what could the future hold? Because of his shaky jumper, his subpar defense, and his need to dominate the ball, Evan figures to be, in a perfect world, a 6th man on a contender. He can take over the game if he gets hot, but he's too inadequate and high usage at other things to count on him to be in your starting lineup. The Sixers may like him in that role down the line, and Brett Brown has certainly gotten a ton more out of him than anybody should've expected, but it seems like both sides are in need of a parting of the ways.
PERCEIVED LEAGUE-WIDE VALUE
You've seen guys like Rudy Gay and Monta Ellis polarize the Stats vs. Eyes argument. Evan is probably in the tier below that because, while he's put up great counting stats this year -- 20.4 points on 45.2% shooting, 6.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists -- the narrative on him still pegs him at a semi-BUST or BUST-adjacent. You're not going to see analytically-minded teams like Memphis or Houston make a play for him. But some other team could see a breakout year, a restricted free agent, and take a shot.
The problem is, as Fischer pointed out, there aren't that many teams that can trade a first-rounder this year or next. There are even fewer teams who would like to. Phoenix, maybe. Chicago, if the Bulls players didn't hate him so much.
So what would other teams be willing to trade for Evan? Maybe a 2016 pick. If a team's gambling on a half-season rental putting them over the top, then it's better to slot the payment down the road so your fans forget about it and hold it against you less.
It's tough to pinpoint the market value for Turner because on the one hand, he's near All-Star level right now. That's deserving of a first-rounder. On the other hand, he'll have to get paid this offseason, and lots of teams are looking at this year's Evan like it's a fluke or a product of the Sixers pace or just, well, somebody has to score.
Evan will be traded. By my estimation, there's a very narrow window through which Hinkie will have to navigate a fair deal. Trading him for an expiring and a second rounder would make the Sixers worse, no doubt, but would it be worth it?
Taking a stab at it, I'd bet Hinkie moves Evan for a trending down-ish prospect and a 2015 or 2016 first. Teams are just crazy reluctant to move picks this June, but once the Draft actually comes around and players start flying off the board, Hinkie can use that future pick as ammo to move up earlier. It's all about the assets, babies.
This is the deep breath before the plunge. Trust Hinkie.
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