That's it? My initial reaction to the final trade made on Thursday by the Sixers could also ably sum up the Evan Turner era in Philadelphia. The underwhelming former top draft pick got moved, along with Lavoy Allen, to the Indiana Pacers for forward Danny Granger and a future second round draft pick.
Of all the deals on deadline day, the Turner trade was the only where I felt uncomfortable afterward. Maybe it's because it doesn't seem like a lot came to the Sixers for the troubles of trading him. Turner led the Sixers in scoring before the trade. He also stood second in assists and third in rebounding. He did a lot, even if at a horribly inefficient level. He also has the pedigree, the media attention, the nickname: everything there indicates he is better player than his reality shows.
But yet: a second rounder from a team (Golden State) overwhelmingly likely to make the playoffs in 2015 based off their current prospects? Even with everything we know, or think we know, Evan Turner is not much of an NBA player. However, a second round pick is all we could, over a million dollars in savings for the trade partner (where the dollars do matter - the Pacers may have landed over the luxury tax after signing Andrew Bynum), and a potentially useful rotation player or two going to the opposite team?
TRADES TRADES TRADES
I found it hard to believe the Sixers could not get more for Turner (and Lavoy, but he basically doesn't count), even considering the circumstances. The Pacers gained a lot from this, from my perspective. The cash savings, the potential upgrade over the shell-of-himself Granger, and the additional big off the bench are a lot for what projects out to be the 50th or so pick in a draft.
I'm supportive of the strategy of acquiring - heck, we're hoarding at this point - second round picks. Daryl Morey about 15 months ago flatly stated in an article to SI's Chris Ballard that second round picks were the "most undervalued asset in the NBA." Since then, obviously the value of a second rounder has increased.
If Sam Hinkie shares that viewpoint - and that viewpoint was probably developed in part by discussions and data-mining and everything else Hinkie and Morey evaluated together in Houston - then this fits the viewpoint, and maybe a future second round isn't all that bad. And maybe I'm overreacting due to what I thought could have been instead of what was the case.
Then I'm reminded by myself that Sam Hinkie *may* (and I'm loathe to question him too much, because he's been so good for this franchise in such a short time, but bear with me) have made a tactical error at exactly one point during the season that killed Turner's trade value irreparably.
Back in October, the Sixers had the *chance* to sign Evan Turner to a long-term contract. First round picks in their fourth year have the opportunity to negotiate and sign extensions with their franchises before the players hit restricted free agency. Smart money was on the Sixers not signing Turner to an extension. It makes sense: Turner had not performed well at the time, and tying long-term money to sub-par players is what gets general managers fired.
2014 NBA Draft
Evan Turner was not going to be returning under basically any circumstances. Hinkie proved that thought yesterday when he shipped Turner, paired with Lavoy Allen out for nothing more than a future second round pick. But the Sixers could have done more to at least give the impression that they would like him to stay. Turner famously exclaimed that Hinkie "was not (his) GM," acting out in frustration that the Sixers would not even bother to negotiate an extension with his agent, David Falk, in October.
That public statement, that the Sixers would not even bother sitting down with Turner, sealed his fate. Teams at that point had to know Turner did not fit in with the Sixers' plans. Other reports confirming that the Sixers wouldn't bother extending him his restricted free agency qualifying offer didn't help, either. At that point, our leverage was basically dead. Trying to build that up with extended minutes and pace and everything else seems a bit pointless in retrospect, if only because it amounted to nothing but confirming the obvious: he's not that good. Though David Falk would try and try again with a certain reporter as his voice.
Going back to the Morey article I linked to above, it seemed like the Rockets were always open to making deals or acquiring players. Making moves and discussing more deals than any team in the league was their M.O. On that, Morey said teams should "keep the pipeline open for anyone rather than focus on two or three opportunities." Hinkie obviously agrees when it comes to collecting second-round picks. I mean, come on. We have all of them. But he didn't keep that line of communication open with Turner, and that may have cost them.
Still: the Sixers got something for nothing that they valued. Turner obviously was a goner, and Lavoy Allen was just there too. That, in a nutshell, was Sam Hinkie's motivation behind this. Getting worse going forward this year will also happen, as I truly have no idea who will pick up all the possessions Turner used and use them as (in)effectively. Both things are better than holding Turner and getting nothing but maybe a trade exception, because the Sixers figure to be so far under the cap going forward, and because sucking is now quite clearly the goal.
The sense of disappointment with the return still lingers for me, though. Then again, I've lived through the first four years of Evan Turner's career. I should be used to that by now.