Last week our own Bobby Manning made the case against re-signing Evan Turner - partly because he wanted to see Marcus Smart handle the ball more next season. It sounds like Danny Ainge does not agree. In fact, he's a big fan of Evan.
"As you know I’m a fan of Evan and I think he’s had a really good year," Ainge said. "I think he’s had a good two years [with the Celtics]. He won a lot of games for us. Down the stretch of games, he’s a good guy to have on your team, he’s a versatile player. He plays multiple positions." When asked if he’d like to re-sign Turner, Ainge said: "Yes. We’re big fans of Evan. I think Evan likes us and we like him."
We know that he can create his own shot, a skill that isn't in abundance on this team. But what is sometimes overlooked is his defensive efforts.
Aided by a defensive-minded second unit, Turner has put up quality defensive numbers as well. Individually, he's allowing a mere 0.754 points per play this season, according to Synergy Sports data. That ranks him in the 92nd percentile among all players. In fact, if you drill down to players who have defended at least 400 plays this season, Turner ranks fourth behind only Cleveland's LeBron James (0.708), San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge (0.732) and Golden State's Andrew Bogut (0.752).
Everything has to be considered in context of course. The decision to re-sign Turner or not will depend on several factors. The first priority is to bring in high-end talent, either through the draft or trade or free agency. How the roster shakes out after that will impact Turner's future. If Boston adds to its overabundance of guards and wings, Turner could get pushed out. If the Cs deal some of those guards and wings to bring in a star, then Evan could be a critical piece to fill out the rotation.
It will also be interesting to see what Turner's value is in the open market. Turner likes it in Boston, and Brad Stevens may very well have saved his career. But that doesn't mean his agent will be eager to give the Celtics a discount during the summer of deep pockets around the league.
The Celtics like Turner and feel that he can be a useful player, so there's a chance we could see him stick around for the long term. Alternatively, if things fall a different way, he could be headed off in another direction this summer. Either way, he's been a bargain and a pleasant surprise this season.