Evan Turner finally cashed in Friday, as he agreed to a 4-year $70 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. After finishing 5th in Sixth Man of the Year voting this season, Turner set himself up for a big free agent market and received an average annual salary of $17.5 million, or 18.6 percent of the cap.
Boston, this was definitely one of the toughest decisions I've ever made. I can't say enough how appreciative I am for all the love and support. Every night I played at TD garden was like a dream come through. Thank you for showing me how a REAL sports city does things! You'll forever be in my heart!! C's up ☘☘☘
Turner will likely start at small forward for Portland after Chandler Parsons reportedly chose the Memphis Grizzlies' 4-year, $94 million max offer instead of the same deal from Portland. Turner will have much less ball-handling responsibility in Portland, as he will play next to great playmaking scorers in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. The corner three-point shot that he for the most part abandoned last seasons will need to once again become an important part of his game.
He experienced a resurgence under Brad Stevens in Boston. The number two pick struggled to deal with the expectations of his draft status in Philadelphia, despite playing a key role on a team that nearly shocked the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2012. But when Sam Hinkie took over and started The Process, Turner was eventually traded to the Pacers at the trade deadline for deteriorating Danny Granger.
Turner struggled in Indiana, clashing with Lance Stephenson and getting out of there as soon as the season was over. The Celtics gave him a chance for a fresh start when they signed him to a 2-year deal for just $6.7 million total. But turner flourished in Boston, becoming the second ball handler behind Isaiah Thomas and playing a crucial role in their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks when Avery Bradley went down and Jae Crowder was clearly hurt.
ET made strides as an efficient ball handler this season, but his true growth was as a defender. He emerged as oe of the most steadily effective defensive wings in the league and one of the few starting-caliber players on each end to be coming off the bench.
But his early bird rights always signaled a strong possibility that his future was elsewhere. The Celtics' expectations were essentially how it played out, with Turner having offers from competitive teams that were too good to turn down. Although sources told CelticsBlog yesterday that the Celtics were expected to receive a chance to compete with Turner's best offer, the $17.5 million AAV was too rich for their roster structure, cap space and free agency targets.
Had the Celtics held full bird rights, they could have held on to his low cap hold of $4.5 million and signed him to a large contract after using their cap space on free agents. But with early bird rights, the amount they could use to sign Turner without reducing their cap space was around $7 million. With their space earmarked for Al Horford and Kevin Durant, the Celtics are not in a position to commit significant space to non-starters before those two targets are off the market. With Turner's market value placing him at starter-level, there was little doubt that he was leaving Boston.
His big pay day will surely produce some memorable quotes, which has been a nightly tradition in Boston. Here are some his best quotes from his time in Boston:
- On his shooting woes in February: "You've gotta respect a 15-percent 3-point shooter. A guy like that is always lethal. It's 15-percent, but it's a big 15-percent."
- On being the new NBA logo: "Obviously a lot more women would be into the game."
- On his 360-dunk last December: "I probably shouldn't make any plans for All-Star Weekend now."
- On first paying Kobe: "I had teammates that said, 'When you go out there, don't look at him in his eye. Don't talk to him or anything. It's going to give him an edge.' Like he's some type of pit bull or something. Then he came up to me and patted me on my back. He was like, 'How you doing? How's your mom?' I was like, 'She's all right.'"
- On pass from Olynyk in January: "Kelly had the ball and I'm like... he better not pass it to me. It's like an unwritten rule of the NBA. So I'm like, ‘he better not pass it to me'... and the ball is coming toward me and I'm like ‘This dude is a big asshole'. Like... the whole time I'm looking at him like ‘You better not pass me this ball, what are you doing bro?"
- Advice on getting courtside seats: "Purchase them at the ticket office or flirt with someone who works at the garden and finesse your way to courtside."
- On why you should buy his Logo shirt instead of feeding your cat: "If your cat dies of hunger it will still have 8 lives. So yeah cop the tee ASAP rocky."
But most importantly, he left Boston with this unforgettable moment: