Late Tuesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves were a part of a major four-team deal. One of the players that will be coming to the Twin Cities is Evan Turner.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were a part of a four-team deal that involved the Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets. There’s a lot to digest, so we’re taking this player by player.
Minnesota traded away Robert Covington, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Jordan Bell and Keita Bates-Diop, with Covington and Bell heading to Houston and the other three players all going to the Nuggets.
In return, the Wolves received the Brooklyn Nets’ lottery-protected first-round pick, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt and Evan Turner.
There’s a lot of pieces and angles that go into this trade and there’s no real answer as to what they plan to do right now, but a lot of these questions will mostly be answered after the trade deadline passes on Thursday at 2 p.m. CT.
One of the players that was acquired was Turner, who was originally drafted No. 2 out of Ohio State in the 2010 NBA Draft. Turner hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations of being a top pick, but at 31 years old, he’s still a rotation player and has played on some decent teams.
Turner started his career with the Philadelphia 76ers and spent almost four seasons there before being traded to the Indiana Pacers. He only spent 27 games in a Pacers uniform for the later part of the 2013-14 season and would then play two seasons for the Boston Celtics.
Then, Turner had a good stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, playing three seasons there and eventually being moved in a deal that landed him with the Atlanta Hawks.
For the majority of his career, the former Buckeye has played close to 20-30 minutes each game but saw limited action in a Hawks uniform this season after falling out of the rebuilding team’s rotation. In 19 games this year, he’s averaged just 13.2 minutes per contest.
However, the Hawks have fully invested this season in allowing their younger players to get playing time and with Turner not being in their long-term plans and being out of playoff contention, it’s hard to see him receiving much playing time.
Turner’s role with the Timberwolves largely hinges on what Minnesota does in the coming hours. If there are no more deals in place, it’s likely that he will see more playing time in the Twin Cities than he was seeing in Atlanta. Minnesota currently has only one point guard on the roster, and that’s two-way player Jordan McLaughlin.
Turner has a lot of experience playing the point and would most likely get most of his time there if Minnesota is unable to swing a trade for another guard. Andrew Wiggins and Jarrett Culver also seem to be in the mix to do the bulk of the work facilitating the offense.
Turner is listed at 6-foot-6 and will be able to play multiple positions for the team, whether that be on the wing or handling the point guard position.
In his limited playing time with the Hawks, he averaged 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds and assists per game, plus 0.5 steals per game. On top of that, he’s shooting a career low 37.5 percent from the field on just 3.5 attempts per game. Turner has also never been a good 3-point shooter, with a 29.4 percent career mark from deep and an 0-for-5 from beyond the arc with the Hawks this season.
He’s in the final year of a four-year, $70 million deal and will be an unrestricted free agent come this offseason with $18.6 million coming off the books. He could be a factor to match salaries in any other potential deal the Timberwolves try and swing by Thursday afternoon. Or, he’ll simply be a massive expiring deal for the Wolves this summer alongside Alan Crabbe’s $18.5 million expiring contract.
As of now, if the former No. 2 overall pick is still on the roster come Thursday night, Turner will most likely be facilitating the offense and not much else.
The former Buckeye gets most of his points at the rim or from mid-range, although he doesn’t get to the free throw line very often. Over the course of his career, he’s averaging 1.9 free throw attempts per game and has made 78.2 percent of them. His career high in freebies per game is 4.2 attempts in 2013-14, when he played in 54 contests for the 76ers.
The below highlights are from the 2018-19 season with Portland, but are a good example regarding what kind of player he can be with Minnesota for the remainder of the season.
All things considered, Turner is an experienced veteran who has played for many good teams over his career and if his play on the court won’t make a large impact, hopefully he can be a good locker room presence for this young Timberwolves team.
There’s also the possibility of a buyout, as noted by SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson. In the meantime, however, expect Turner to be around the Wolves and contribute as a primary ball-handler in the absence of any true, NBA-caliber point guards.