The plan was for Evan Turner to pile in the points per game, and show that he could be a viable offensive option, in turn increasing his trade value while the Sixers struggled through this season.
While the Sixers haven’t exactly struggled so far, it is safe to say that the Turner part of the plan has worked well to this point.
Evan Turner has improved upon his production and his efficiency, AND he is currently a top ten scorer in the NBA. He’s there, with his 23 points per game, on the top ten list, sandwiched right between Carmelo Anthony and Monta Ellis. Who saw that coming?
Turner has seized the opportunity to be the team’s primary offensive option after spending several seasons offensively oppressed under Coach Doug Collins. He has made a concerted effort to attack the rim, rather than just settle for jumpers as he often did under Doug. Turner currently leads the NBA in total points scored on drives to the basket, and is averaging a career high 5.6 free throw attempts a game. As if this weren’t improvement enough, E.T. is also shooting a career high 49% from the field, and pulling down six boards per.
He’s locked in, and logically so, as he’s playing for a contract; either with the Sixers or elsewhere in the league’s landscape. This brings us to the point of this piece: Is it time for the Sixers to trade Evan Turner?
Heading into the season it seemed that the idea was to let Turner basically ball out, increase interest in him, and then unload him for assets of some form. Turner has done his part, playing the best basketball of his young career, especially on the offensive end, and piquing interest around the league. If trading Turner is still on the table, which is something only Sam Hinkie knows (and I wouldn’t dare try to venture inside of his head), then it may be time to start entertaining offers, while Turner still has an extremely hot hand.
They say ‘sell high,’ and if the Sixers intend to trade Turner, then that is exactly what they should do. There is word around the league that if Turner were available, several teams, including but not limited to the Timberwolves and the Mavericks may be interested in his services. While there have been no official talks between the teams, interest is evident.
Heading into the season, the majority wanted Turner out of town. However, his solid play to start the season has caused many to reposition their stance on trading Turner, feeling that he could be part of the foundation going forward after seeing him explode offensively.
It is unfortunate that it took Turner this long to start to produce up to the level of his potential, as he may have developed into a productive player earlier in his career had he not been hampered by Collins’ coaching. But, the fact of the matter is that he didn’t make a big enough impression during his first three seasons to warrant a long-term commitment.
So now, the Sixers have a decision to make. Do they want to keep Turner long term as a building block, and pay him what he will be looking for in the open market after a potential breakout season? Possibly, but the fact that there was zero talk about a contract extension for him last month makes that scenario seem somewhat unlikely. The more likely scenario is that he will be off of the Sixers’ payroll once free agency begins next summer, and with interest increasing, the Sixers should look to get something in return.
If the Sixers are going to make a move, now may be the time to start looking around the league for the best available offer, far away from deadline desperation, while Turner continues to play premier basketball in Brett Brown’s stat-friendly system.