The Boston Celtics are entering a franchise-altering offseason with core players pending free agency. One of those core players is Evan Turner. Turner expressed interest in returning.
Turner had support from the Celtics team and organization all season. He had his number 21 retired at Ohio State at the end of All-Star weekend with Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge, along with teammates Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Isaiah Thomas in attendance. Turner told Ainge,
“Oh, Danny Ainge, thanks for coming. In July, you can pay me all you want.”
Ainge even expressed interest in bringing back Turner. When asked about re-signing Turner, Ainge told The Boston Globe,
“Yes. We’re big fans of Evan. I think Evan likes us and we like him.”
Finally, during Turner’s exit interview, he said,
“This is the first time I left an exit interview and the team wanted me back.”
Turner sounds happy in Boston and Boston sounds happy with Turner. The only way Turner would leave is for money, but happiness is more important than money.
The Celtics already have key players playing at an insane discount. Avery Bradley made $7.7 million, Isaiah Thomas made $6.9 million and Jae Crowder made $6.7 million in 2015-2016. If Turner joined them at a low salary, the Celtics would have the ammunition to persuade two stars to sign in Boston.
Don’t forget, the Celtics also have the Brooklyn Nets 2016 1st-round draft projected in the top-3. Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram could wear green in 2016-2017 on a rookie contract. One of them would join Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk under rookie deals.
A team with Thomas, Smart, Bradley, Crowder, Olynyk and a top prospect under head coach Brad Stevens will win games, but not enough to win a championship. The Celtics priority this offseason is to acquire two stars, not re-sign Turner. It is up to Turner to chase the money or play where he is happy.
Turner has felt unhappy in the NBA before. He was hated by the fans in Philadelphia for not living up to expectations and hated by Indiana Pacers players for fighting Lance Stephenson. In Boston, there is no hate.
If Turner re-signs with the Celtics, they are one step closer to solidifying a roster that can contend for an NBA championship. They need stars, but the Turner, Smart and Olynyk group could be the best bench trio in the NBA. The Celtics are a team, not individual players. Turner would impact the Celtics more than any other team in the NBA. He would be wise to stay.