One of the perks to having to act as the go-to guy on the second worst team in the NBA? One of the side benefits to being just about told outright that your bosses have no interest in you as a player when your contract potentially expires in the summer? One nice thing, after dealing with the slings and arrows of having to carry one of the NBA’s worst offenses?
The third week of April hits, the regular season ends, and vacation starts. And while NBA playoff teams are duking it out for another two months, you could have gone around the world and elsewhere in 60 days.
Unless, of course, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that you’ve been dealt to the best team in the Eastern Conference, one that appears well on its way toward grabbing home court advantage throughout the Eastern playoffs, and the potential to knock off the Miami Heat on the team’s way to the Finals. After that? Bags unpacked, plans scuttled, holiday on delay. Evan Turner was 30 minutes away from going somewhere warm in April, by way of a miserable season in Philadelphia:
Bird described the trade as an 11th hour deal, coming into place around 2:30 … 30 minutes before the trade deadline.
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) February 21, 2014
Turner believed the trade deadline had passed and, playing for the struggling 76ers (15-40), was making post-regular season vacation plans when he heard he had been traded.
"Definitely excited. Still shocked; I thought the trade deadline was over," Turner told The Star on Thursday night. "I was actually setting up my postseason (vacation) with my agent's assistant and pretty much when I was telling her the days I wanted to go. (Then) she said, 'Well, no we can't book (those days), you've just got traded.'
"Hopefully, I can play basketball while it's nice out. That's the best time to do it. I'm looking forward to the future and the next few months with the team."
As fun as the Sixers have been at times this year, and as much as the team’s accelerated pace (more possessions per game than anyone in the NBA) and limited roster have allowed Turner to pump up his points per game average, there still was the matter of having to play 27 more games with a team that didn’t have you in its long term plans, one that was more than capable of losing, say, at least 20 of those 27 games along the way.
Turner won’t be allowed the minutes nor shots, to say nothing the tempered pace, in Indiana. He’ll come off the bench and it is possible that his 17.4 points per game average from Philadelphia will be cut in half with the Pacers. And though Indiana rightfully received plaudits for turning Danny Granger’s expiring contract into a younger and (sadly, for Danny) better player, Turner doesn’t address Indiana’s need for long range shooting. His specialty is scoring on mid-range plays after looping around the baseline, and not spotting up.
Of course, Granger wasn’t spotting up to great acclaim either, shooting 33 percent from long range and 36 percent overall on his way to 8.3 points per game. And though the former Pacer All-Star understands the business, he can’t be happy with what took place on Thursday:
Danny Granger was "pissed" when he learned he was traded to the Sixers, per league source. — Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) February 21, 2014
Granger was widely respected in the Indiana locker room, he traveled with the team and was a locker room fixture last season even though he missed nearly all of 2012-13 with knee woes, and even though the Pacers appreciate Turner’s talents, they couldn’t not have been happy to see their friend sent to one of the league’s worst teams.
For now, at least. It’s very possible that the 76ers and Granger will hash out a buyout plan that would allow the veteran to head to a team of his choice. With playoff outfits in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Miami, Washington and Chicago (I made myself laugh with that one!) having cleared roster space in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline. The Sixers have floated word that they think they have sign-and-trade options with Granger this summer, once he enters free agency, but who is signing and trading for Danny Granger? Who is sending even limited assets back? And with so many teams with cap space this summer, what team really needs to involve themselves in those sorts of machinations?
Which is sad, because Danny used to be a very good player, but that’s just the reality of where his knees have left him.
Evan Turner’s knees, meanwhile, will leave him in Indiana come spring, and possibly early summer. It’s no Cancun, but it’s not a bad place to be during that time of year, Evan.
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