The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly missed out on Chandler Parsons, but quickly went to Plan B in their pursuit of a wing. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical is reporting Neil Olshey and the Blazers have come to an agreement on a four-year deal worth $70 million for the former Boston Celtics shooting guard.
To clarify on Turner to Blazers deal: Turner has agreed to a four-year, $70M free agent deal.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 1, 2016
Parsons reportedly signing a max deal with the Memphis Grizzlies opened the door for Turner to the Blazers. Portland was hoping to grab both Parsons and Dwight Howard as its main haul this summer to build with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but there is no word yet on whether or not Howard has moved on from considering the Blazers. The Blazers are said to be pursuing Pau Gasol.
Turner will be playing for his fourth team in seven years, having spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and Celtics. He averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 28 minutes for Boston last season.
Here are five things to know about the Blazers agreeing to a deal with Turner:
1. He's going to start at small forward
Immediately upon hearing the news about Turner joining the Blazers, you want to know if this is a situation in which you're paying a player a lot of money but planning to bring him off the bench as a Sixth Man type. Apparently, this will not happen with Turner and the Blazers. Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald says that Turner was told he'll start next to C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard.
Turner has been told by Blazers he will start alongside Lillard and McCollum.— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) July 1, 2016
Last season, the Blazers often went with a more traditional lineup of two bigs, their two star guards, and Al-Farouq Aminu at the small forward position. If Turner is definitely the plan at small forward, it would be safe to assume they'll go small at the power forward position with the versatile Aminu, unless they're able to convince Pau Gasol to come aboard and start next to Mason Plumlee.
Aminu shot well from 3-point range, which is something the Blazers were confident he'd be able to do when they signed him last summer. Do they have that same confidence with Turner?
2. He can't shoot from the outside
Evan Turner is not a 3-point shooter in the slightest, a skill Stotts would like his players to possess. He's had one successful season shooting the ball from deep, which happened in 2012-13 when he made 36.5 percent of his 3-point shots. Other than that, he's a 30.5 percent shooter for his career and shot 26 percent on 202 3-point attempts in his time with the Celtics over the past two seasons. The reason the Blazers thought Aminu would be able to shoot is his form wasn't that far from being workable.
Turner's shooting motion looks like dilapidated IKEA furniture. It's possible there's a correlation with his affinity for the mid-range jumper and the way the Blazers made the mid-range jumper a part of their offense when LaMarcus Aldridge was involved. Obviously, Turner is not the caliber of player that Aldridge is, but if the rest of the shooters space the floor for him, maybe they feel he can score in the open middle areas.
The 3-point shot matters to Terry Stotts and his offense though. Sixth in attempts last season and 4th in percentage.
3. He helps with rebounding from the wing
Turner has never averaged fewer than six rebounds per 36 minutes at any point in his career. He was one of seven players 6-foot-7 or shorter last season to grab at least 16.5 percent of all available defensive rebounds when they were on the court. That helps the Blazers, who were a great offensive rebounding team but middle of the road when it came to defensive rebounding. Since entering the NBA, Turner has been one of the 10 or 11 best rebounding non-big men in basketball with total rebounding percentage.
This puts far less pressure on the Blazers to play traditional lineups and maybe get out to run a bit more.
4. Blazers still have two free agents on the wing that are probably better fits
This probably doesn't keep the Blazers from trying to keep Maurice Harkless or Allen Crabbe in the mix for them moving forward. Crabbe is inexperienced, but really turned heads this season in Portland, especially in the playoffs. He can shoot from deep and he's a solid defensive option. He can't handle the ball and make plays for others in the same way that Turner can, but he blends in nicely with what Stotts expects from his offense.
Harkless isn't a shooter but he can be a versatile player at the 3 and maybe even spot times at the 4. He doesn't handle the ball the same way Turner does, but he is a similar rebounder, probably a more versatile defender, and he doesn't turn the ball over nearly as much as Turner. It will be interesting to see how the Blazers handle their situations by either stockpiling capable wings or letting someone go now that they have Turner.
5. Figuring out if playing with McCollum and Lillard really helps balance the attack
There is an initial thought that having Turner on the court with McCollum and Lillard allows them to play off the ball while Turner initiates the offense. This seems problematic to me because you're taking the ball out of the capable hands of two much better offensive players and hoping that the lesser offensive option is able to help them score by setting them up. That seems counter-intuitive.
McCollum has one of the best handles in the game. He can create from even the most dire individual situations on the court and get a quality shot. He's a perennial (and efficient) 20-point per game scorer over the next decade. Why would you want the ball out of his hands if it's not in Lillard's hands? Same goes for Lillard. He's a monster on offense and can shoot from anywhere with great accuracy. Does it benefit him to play off the ball without McCollum handling it? Doesn't this force a defense to dare an inefficient Turner to score while they deny the two dynamic scorers?
Turner eventually becoming a guy you stagger into the second unit makes more sense than hoping he creates for two guys you want creating for themselves.