Blakely: Turner's play should pay off for him in free agency

Blakely: Turner's play should pay off for him in free agency

BOSTON – The playoffs haven’t necessarily been a coming out of sorts for Evan Turner.

More than anything it has validated the mostly positives he has brought to the floor with a high level of consistency since joining the Boston Celtics.

And it is adding up to a body of work that should pay off – literally – for Turner this summer when he hits the free agent market and in all likelihood commands an eight-figure salary.

Sticker shock may be the initial reaction for many when they think of Turner hauling in $10 million or more per season.

To put that in perspective, take a look at these players who are averaging between $9-11 million per season.

· Lance Stephenson - $9 million

· Iman Shumpert - $8.98 million

· Danny Green - $10 million

· Tyreke Evans -- $10.7 million

And the NBA’s new TV deal which will kick in this summer, will make eight-figure deals a lot more commonplace and maybe more significant, won’t have as huge an impact on team’s respective salary caps because of the overall cap growth.

Boston has a decent amount of players who will either be unrestricted free agents this summer like Turner, restricted free agents (Boston can match any offer they receive) like Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller, or potential unrestricted free agents like Amir Johnson whose two-year, $24 million contract includes a team option on the second season.

All have drawn varying levels of interest from NBA executives during the season.

But Turner has been the one Celtic that league sources have told CSNNE.com would be the best fit for any team.

“You hear players talk all the time about doing whatever it takes to win, but he’s doing it,” one executive told CSNNE.com. “Start, come off the bench, play a few minutes, play a lot of minutes. He’s done everything they’ve asked him to do and from what I hear, hasn’t grumbled a day about it. Every team needs a guy like that in their locker room.”

Turner hasn’t disappointed, scoring in double digits all five games thus far – the only Celtics player to do so.

But more than the scoring on the court, Turner is also scoring points in the eyes of NBA execs with the impact he has made on the Celtics winning games – a huge intangible that might separate him from some other second-tier free agents not named Kevin Durant.

“If you’re looking for him to come in and put X-amount of points and X-amount of assists per game and shot this or that from the field, he’s probably not your guy,” another league executive texted CSNNE.com recently. “He helps you win games. That’s probably his greatest strength.”

Boston knows this better than anyone, which is why you will often find him on the floor down the stretch in close games, regardless of how he has shot the ball previously.

He is one of Brad Stevens’ favorite players, which is among the many reasons why the Celtics want to re-sign him to a multi-year deal in the offseason.

And Turner has made no secret that if it were a perfect world he would be back in Boston next fall.

But it’s not a perfect world; it’s a business.

And the business side of things will come into play at some point and potentially force him to wrestle between taking the most money or remaining with the team that gave him the best opportunity basketball-wise and do so at less than market value.

Turner has said on multiple occasions that his focus this season has been to do all that he can to help the Celtics go as deep into the postseason as possible.

Now that the season is potentially nearing an end, Turner’s focus hasn’t changed one bit.

“I’ll think about that stuff when it’s time to think about it this summer,” Turner told CSNNE.com. “Winning games, that’s all I care about, that’s all I want to do now.”

Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett was paying close attention to Tuesday night's thriller between the Celtics and Thunder.

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Thunder

On KG's Area 21, the former Celtics great watched as Boston rallied in the game's final minute to make a stunning comeback. Right before Marcus Morris drilled the game-winner, Garnett called it by saying, "The Morris twin will end up shooting this or something because he like 'yeah I'm about the moment'"

Not a bad call. Morris certainly was "about the moment" Tuesday night as he has been multiple times this season.


Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”