BOSTON - With 44.7 seconds remaining in Thursday's Game 6 loss to the Celtics, Evan Turner was removed.
His hope is, though, is that it's not the last time he walks off the court as a member of the Boston Celtics.
Turner, who signed a 2 year, $6,703,510 contract with Boston two offseasons ago is now headed for unrestricted free agency, and after two successful seasons in Boston in which he turned his game around, is due for a bit of a pay day.
Will Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge be the guy who gives it to him? Turner hopes so, but at this stage it's too soon to say.
"I really don't know," Turner said about his future in Boston. "I would love to come back but at the same time, lot of things, lot of variables that are going to occur and things like that that I can't control. Whenever July hits we'll talk about it."
Turner knows that Ainge's job is to do what's best for the Celtics. In that same sense, Turner has to do what's best for him, which means joining a team that checks off all the boxes. So what are those boxes?
"Just fit obviously," Turner said. "I want to get a decent amount of money, you know what I'm saying? But at the same time the fit is going to be huge and the opportunity to play on a winning team. I have played on [crap] teams a couple times and it's not fun. But obviously the fit, the opportunity to play, and the opportunity to progress and win."
It just so happens that Turner was able to do all those things in Boston. Just taking a look at his last contract, it's easy to see he wasn't wanted by many other teams in the NBA. Labeling Turner a "reclamation project" might be a bit of a stretch, but not by much. Either way, Brad Stevens was able to get to him and by the end of his two year deal was one of Stevens' favorite players, and one he counted on in just about every big situation. Turner played so well in whatever role was given to him that he ended up in the running for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award.
Whether or not Turner does return to Boston, he knows how much Stevens has done for his career. Turner can expect to cash in on a deal that will earn him north of $10 million per season this summer.
"He's done a lot. He's a smart guy. He rekindled my fire for the game. Just enjoy it," Turner said. I think he's definitely helped us all becoming better pros and doing the little things. I think everybody in this locker room he's put in positions to succeed so definitely appreciate that and most importantly off the court he's a great friend and great guy."
But the love goes beyond Stevens. It goes through the organization to the fans and the city. Turner couldn't help but think walking off the court that it could all be just a memory in a couple months.
"It’s a thought for sure," Turner said. "I love playing for the Celtics, I love the city and everything. It’s definitely been a blessing. Hopefully it’s not my last game in a Celtics uniform. The coolest thing is to wear the uniform. I don’t take that for granted. The tradition and opportunity and the energy around it is great."
The feeling seems mutual, but as always in the end, money talks.