Just five months ago, Evan Turner was seen as a critical deadline addition for the Indiana Pacers. Now, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, he'll be taking a significant pay cut to come off the bench for the Celtics.
Bulpett's source has indicated that Turner will get a portion of their mid-level exception. While he didn't have to settle for a minimum deal, several league experts including Grantland's Zach Lowe have suggested that a few "high profile teams" were hoping to lure ET in on such a deal as a reclamation project.
It's a stunning turn of events given the chatter surrounding his exit from Philadelphia, crystallized in the form of this tweet, which has been recycled by Sixers Twitter countless times over the last few months:
With Evan Turner on board Pacers will basically be unbeatable now.— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) February 20, 2014
Sixers GM Sam Hinkie was mocked in some circles for "giving Turner away" at the trade deadline, but it turns out that he may received an above-market return for the former No. 2 pick. There were minutes to be had on a Pacers team lacking depth on the wings, but Turner ended up losing his spot in the rotation to career journeyman Rasual Butler come playoff time. Failing to make an impact (or even get playing time!) on a squad that was an absolute dumpster fire following the All Star break tanked whatever value Turner had on the open market.
It's hard to imagine a more perfect match for Turner. During the Sixers brazen mockery of the NBA lottery last season, they were met with some strong admonishment from around the league, including quite a bit of cognitive dissonance from fans of the Celtics in particular. Even after trading their coach, two of their three best players and regularly running out players like Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, sentiment remained that the Celtics were Doing It The Right Way © in comparison to Philadelphia.
As a reward for their less obvious tanking, the Celtics now have Turner, giving Sixers fans the chance to root against him for the second year in a row. There is a salvagable player somewhere within him; he charmed Sixers fans with hot streaks book-ended by
mediocrity sub-par play, and at a low cost the Celtics are simply rolling the dice hoping Brad Stevens can make something out of him.
There's a possibility that his value taking a nosedive will be the wake-up call that sparks an adjustment in his game. Changes in scenery have breathed new life into many underwhelming careers. But I'd say those odds are longer for someone whose Ferrari ran out of gas not once, but twice within a two week span. If you can't be trusted to do something as simple as hitting Sunoco, making split-second decisions against top-notch athletes might not be for you.
Either way, Turner will live on as one of the symbols of a regime that often neglected the future for immediate dividends. With those days behind the franchise, Turner's presence on the Celtics will serve as a reminder of what once was. Happy trails, ET.