BOSTON (CBS) — Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is a man who likes to take chances on talented players with question marks. His track record (Jordan Crawford, Stephon Marbury, Darko Milicic,) in that department speaks for itself. This history makes it no surprise that, despite a crowded roster, Ainge bought low again on a free agent target, reportedly agreeing to terms with the no. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Evan Turner.
Let’s take a look at the circumstances surrounding Turner’s imminent signing and try to piece together what he can (and can’t) add to this rebuilding roster next season.
After falling out of the Pacers’ playoff rotation in the Eastern Conference Finals, Turner’s stock on the free agent market couldn’t have been much worse this offseason, creating the ideal circumstances for Ainge to pounce on the swingman. Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald is reporting that the Celtics will sign Turner for a portion of the midlevel exception ($5.3 million).
The length of the deal is still not clear, but my expectation is that it will be a two-year pact worth around $5-6 million total. That kind of agreement would be beneficial to both sides involved, as it allows Turner an opportunity to rebuild his worth and re-enter the free agent market while he’s still in his prime. From the Celtics point of view, if Turner thrives in Boston in year one, it gives the team an extra year of his services for a below-market price. If Turner is a flop, the team can move on while doing minimal damages to their cap space next season.
WILL TURNER FIT WITH CELTICS?
A quick look at Turner’s numbers might make you think the Celtics could be landing a major steal. The swingman averaged a career-high 14 points per game, along with 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists while splitting time between the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers last season.
A closer inspection of Turner’s play reveals the warts that left him available in the bargain basement bin for the Celtics. The 25-year-old has been an inefficient player over the vast majority of his four-year career. Turner takes plenty of shots but just doesn’t do it well, sporting a 42.7 shooting percentage from the field and a 32.7 percent mark from 3-point range over his career.
That kind of accuracy won’t help Boston with their floor spacing issues in the backcourt with players like Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart who also lack a consistent outside shot. Turner’s defense can also be described as lackluster, as he has been prone to get stuck on picks and does not have great recognition at that end of the floor either.
The scouting report on Turner isn’t all doom and gloom though. He will be able to provide a serious boost for the Celtics in two different departments:
1) Defensive rebounding. Turner is one of the best rebounders for his size in the NBA. Over his career, he has grabbed 18.2 percent of all available defensive rebounds when he is on the floor. That mark would have put him right behind the seven-foot Kelly Olynyk in Boston’s team rankings last year. For a team that struggles in this department, Turner will help a lot.
2) Shot creation. Turner may not be great at taking shots but he’s better than most of the current Celtics at creating a shot on his own when the offense breaks down. He’s able to get to the rim as well (even though he hasn’t finished well there lately). If Turner makes strides in his finishing, his overall offensive game will look a whole lot better for it.
All in all, the Turner addition is a low risk gamble. He’ll have to work for his playing time, given the deep depth chart on the roster right now, but that might change if Ainge trades away a couple veterans. If Turner can shine under Brad Stevens, it will give the Celtics one more potential asset to shop around as they try to land a major acquisition via trade. If not, Turner joins a long list of failed reclamation projects in the Danny Ainge era that have done minimal damage to the team’s long-term prospects.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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