Before the 2016-17 NBA season started, a new, extremely fun rule was added for general managers and owners alike to play with. The salary cap was raised by quite a bit, giving every team in the league flexibility to overpay for free agents, extend contracts of current players and basically spend as much money as they wanted on whomever they wanted.
Rumors out of Portland Trail Blazer camp indicated they were interested in the likes of center Dwight Howard (signed with Atlanta) and Chandler Parsons (signed with Memphis), and they “settled” with Evan Turner for a hefty ransom of $70 million for four years.
At the time of the signing, I was trying to be positive. Sidebar – obviously not getting Parsons has worked out. The only thing he has done in Memphis this year is get injured again and engage himself in a Twitter battle with C.J. McCollum. Anyways, as for Turner – it hasn’t been a full-blown disaster. Let’s break it down.
THE UPSIDE OF EVAN TURNER
Sometimes when I hear people describe athletes it gets a little awkward and I’m not always sure what they are describing, but Turner is long, at 6’7” he plays bigger than most No. 2s on the court and he can also play the three (small forward). He handles the ball well, is a good rebounder and is labeled as a plus-defender.
His numbers are comparable to a bench player around the league who gets his number of minutes (25-ish per game). Turner is averaging 9.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game entering Thursday’s game at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Are those numbers helpful? Of course – but let’s get back on task here. Is he worth $70 million?
EVAN TURNER’S STRUGGLES
To be blunt, he’s not a good shooter. To be kind of rude, he is a little awkward on the court and doesn’t run well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him one-on-one with a defender and get by them to the basket for anything besides getting fouled.
He was also hurt for a while and I shouldn’t hold that against him – if I did Festus Ezeli might be involved in this free agent bust story as well. Anyways, when E.T. came back from his injury he tried to play with a customized wrist/hand wrap thing on – and it didn’t help his already poor shooting. It’s really hard for me to justify paying someone that much money to wear a silly brace thing, and shoot ever more poorly than he did when he was healthy. He is shooting 42.6% from the field and 26.5% from the 3-point line this year – both of which are below his career averages.
Did I mention even the Philadelphia 76ers lost interest in him – their former 2nd overall draft pick?
IS IT ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS?
You see this a lot in professional sports. Players sign a ‘big’ contract and pretty much peace out – simply doing the bare minimum and working a heck of a lot less hard than they did with the $350k, one-year deals. Turner got a sizeable pay day as the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, but it certainly wasn’t $70 million.
Is E.T. phoning it in? Does he not really care or was he never that good in the first place? I don’t have inside sources, but I don’t believe Turner was the Blazers’ ‘Option A’ in the free agent market during the offseason. They had to sign someone, since everyone else was doing it, and they overpaid to get a sixth or seventh man who plays solid defense and can rebound from the 2 or 3 position.
To put it into perspective, the Blazers signed Maurice Harkless to a four-year, $40 million deal in the offseason. How awesome has he been for that price point? How could you be so Harkless? (Sorry that’s still funny) I wish these guys cared about more than just their paychecks. I certainly do when I go to work, and I wish they did too.
The Blazers are the youngest team in the league – for real, that’s not a made-up stat. The average age of their players winds up being the youngest age per player in the entire league.
There are supposed to be advantages to that. Key word here – SUPPOSED to be. Look at any other professional sport (go ahead, I’ll wait – no need to do the research for you). Traditionally, when your team is old – your payroll is high. When your team is young, your payroll is low. Ask the New York Yankees during the Derek Jeter World Series runs, the really crappy Brooklyn Nets teams of recent history that were supposed to win titles and the D-Wade, Lebron & Chris Bosh Miami Heat teams.
The point here, is that the Blazers have the second highest payroll in the NBA – and that does not directly correlate with being the youngest team. Turner (sorry, I’m still picking on him) is 28 now, so not only is he one of the oldest Blazers, he is one of the most expensive and one of the most unproductive.
Give me some Allen Crabbe, Harkless, Noah Vonleh or even Jake Layman for his price point instead to fill that SG/SF bench role. In retrospect, Turner was a bad sign, and someone needed to write about it.
Thanks for reading. Please remember to use your turn signals – especially when merging onto or off of the highways. Enjoy your weekend and say hello to strangers. Go Blazers!