At 31, Evan Turner is still a standout ball-handler and playmaker in today’s NBA. From the time he spent with the Philadelphia 76ers after getting drafted, to improving his stock with the Boston Celtics, Turner has shown that while he may not be the No. 1 option on the wing anymore, he’s still a capable option off the bench.
His last contract is surely a thing of the past, with the Portland Trail Blazers clearly overspending on Turner due to his production in Boston. It’s unlikely that he’ll see any offers remotely in the range of his insane four-year, $70 million contract of which he’s coming off. He finished the 2019-20 season averaging 3.3 points and two assists through 19 games with the Atlanta Hawks after the Trail Blazers elected to trade the 10-year veteran in a salary-dumping move.
Given his recent production with both the Hawks and the Trail Blazers, it’s expected that most of the offers Turner fields will be in the veteran’s minimum range. Even so, there’ll be many teams anxious to jump at Turner, knowing full well his capabilities on both offense and defense are well beyond what they’ll end up paying for them.
While he’ll likely receive offers from multiple squads, here’s a few teams that could be ideal for Turner in free agency.
3. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors will be a No. 1 buyer on cheap bargains for veterans once free agency begins. The Bay Area doesn’t get to enjoy the leisure of spending well off into the luxury tax due to the three max contracts they possess composed of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins. This will also be a test run this season in terms of Wiggins’ fit with both Curry and Thompson on the floor, meaning they could use some go-to veteran experience in the event that things go south.
While Evan Turner isn’t a threat from deep, as he’s averaged 29 percent from 3-point range in his career, he does possess a deadly mid-range game complemented by his playmaking abilities. While playing 73 games during the 2018-19 season, he knocked down 46 percent of his shots while dishing out 3.9 assists per game. The Warriors, meanwhile, would repeat a tactic they explored during their many championship runs in utilizing undervalued veterans in an open range system under head coach Steve Kerr.
This move would also put Turner in immediate contention with the Warriors, his first chance at truly competing for a title and making a deep run in the playoffs.
2. Boston Celtics
Whether Gordon Hayward re-signs or not, the Celtics still have a wing problem that needs addressing believe it or not. With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Hayward all taking the floor with the starting unit, that leaves little talent in the forward department on the bench. Even so, what’s better than returning to a team that helped you ascend to temporary stardom and cash in on a big payday?
The best playmaker off the bench for the Celtics is undoubtedly Marcus Smart, who would surely appreciate some additional generating on offense when the starters take a seat. During his time with the Celtics, Turner averaged 10 points, five rebounds and five assists per game on roughly 27.8 minutes a night. Due to the lack of talent that the Celtics had at the time, it led to Turner becoming a go-to option, resulting in him often flirting with triple-doubles on a nightly occasion.
While the Celtics usually haven’t entertained the notion of bringing back former players often, their deck of cards may be a little short this offseason. They recently signed Brown to a near-max rookie extension that’ll kick in this season, while Hayward’s player option will still be in play as well. In short, Evan Turner then becomes a viable option to sign.
1. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are always happy to drain the market of veteran free agents looking to earn what they can on a contending team. With Paul Millsap possibly on the move, the Nuggets could find themselves once more looking to restock on valued veterans at a rather low price.
Jamal Murray’s rookie max deal is set to start in the 2020-21 season, meaning the money gets a little stiff for the Nuggets front office and their ability to sign big name free agents. They’ll also be tasked with retaining prized free agent Jerami Grant, who’ll likely receive multiple offers in the $15-18 million range.
If some (or none) of their plans go exactly right, expect Turner to be a last-minute resort for the Nuggets as they look to get their depth at the wing spot secured. Turner could pair well in a backcourt with Monte Morris and Will Barton, giving them many capable inside scorers from mid range or in the paint.