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Why Turner is Warriors' best option in potential Wiseman trade

NBC Sports
Myles Turner

If the Warriors, in accordance with persistent rumors, decide this offseason to trade James Wiseman and additional assets, there is one perfect fit that might be available.

Not Pascal Siakam. Or Ben Simmons or Domantas Sabonis or, please, Collin Sexton.

How about Myles Turner?

If the goal is for the Warriors to make a deal that sends them back into a championship-or-bust mentality, no one makes more sense than Turner. No other player with a reasonable chance of being moved would fill as many significant Golden State needs or fit so seamlessly with the core already in place.

Turner is a legit center. He’s only 25, but he’s a six-year veteran with the Indianapolis Pacers, who are in the process of doing what any franchise does after hiring a new coach, Rick Carlisle in this case. They’re evaluating everyone on the roster, and that typically leads to changes.

If there is one thing this postseason has revealed, beyond the inordinate number of injuries, it is that success requires, above all, terrific shooting and defensive versatility. The Warriors know this as well as any franchise. But another thing that has become evident is that one of the biggest popular fibs, still being argued as truth in some circles, is being exposed as the absolute fiction it always was.

The NBA center is not extinct. His job description is different from what it was in 1975 or 1995, or even 2005, but the need for an effective player at that position is a must.

 

Each of the four teams remaining in the playoffs has a big man playing a critical role, most notably Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton. With Serge Ibaka sidelined, the Los Angeles Clippers have gotten crucial contributions from Ivica Zubac, with Marcus Morris Jr. filling in. The Atlanta Hawks wouldn’t be in the Eastern Conference finals without the blue-collar efforts of Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu – a rookie with a tremendous aptitude for defense – and their ability to neutralize Joel Embiid, who is the key to everything the Philadelphia 76ers do. The Milwaukee Bucks continue to start pseudo-center Brook Lopez while also getting quality minutes from backup Bobby Portis.

Milwaukee’s path to The Finals, much less winning there, hit a roadblock Tuesday when Giannis Antetokounmpo left the game with a potentially serious knee injury. He is their best center.

Most of the 16 teams that reached the playoffs did so with crucial production from centers. Rudy Gobert, despite his weaknesses, is Utah’s second-most essential player. Jimmy Butler considers Bam Adebayo the key to the Miami Heat. The sharpest reply to the centers-are-extinct falsehood is that the 2020-21 MVP is Denver’s uniquely skilled Nikola Jokic.

This brings us back to Turner, whose comprehensive skills are different from those of any other big man. At 6-foot-11, he is as good as any rim protector in the league, including Gobert, who is at least three inches taller. Though Turner played only 47 games last season, missing the final month with turf toe, he averaged 3.4 blocks per game. Put simply, his shot-blocking ability is reminiscent of peak Ibaka.

Wiseman, at 7-foot-1, might become a solid rim protector and shot-blocker, but he’s only 20 years old. His peak projects to be at least six years away. He’ll need to learn what Turner already knows.

Golden State’s prized core -- Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson – will enter the 2026-27 season averaging 36.7 years of age.

The other key to such a deal, at least for the Warriors, is that Turner’s shooting touch is above average. He’s comfortable in the paint, from mid-range or beyond the arc, having made 231 triples over his last 183 games while shooting at a 35.4-percent clip.

Turner’s weaknesses? He’s an average rebounder and his playmaking might make you long for Andrew Bogut or David West.

Turner has two more years at $17.5 million remaining on the contract he signed in 2018. It’s a team-friendly deal. The Warriors would have to take another player, maybe T.J. Warren, a nice scorer making $12.7 million on an expiring contract next season.

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That’s where Golden State would have to get creative. Wiseman’s salary next season is $9.2 million. Andrew Wiggins might come into play. More probable, a sign-and-trade involving Kelly Oubre Jr. that wouldn’t be cheap.

If the Pacers are listening, it would behoove the Warriors to negotiate – and dangle one of their lottery picks. With Indiana holding the No. 13 pick, Oubre and Golden State’s No. 7 pick might be enough to swing a deal, in which case the Warriors still would take a financial hit but they then can afford to be patient with Wiseman.

 

We’re not here to propose outlandish options, such as Anthony Davis. This is about making a sensible offer for an attractive and potentially available plug-and-play center that fills immediate needs.

The Warriors are a force if Turner is on the court with the established core for the final couple of months next season, when Klay should be finding his stride. If they’re able to retain Wiggins, too, then look out.

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