Celtics

Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players we’ve seen come through the Boston Celtics system, Evan Turner has enjoyed his time with the organization, being in this city and connecting with Celtics Nation.

He’s made the most of his opportunities with the Celtics, proving to be an instrumental figure in Boston’s unexpected playoff appearance last season.

Turner loves the Celtics.

The Celtics love him.

But it may not be enough to keep him around much longer.

The 6-foot-6 wing will make $3.4 million before hitting the free agent market next summer. He has a very movable contract, something Turner is well aware of.

But if you see him taking up residence in another city, Turner says it won’t be because he wanted to go elsewhere.

“I like Boston, I like the town and the city; the restaurants are pretty good too,” Turner said. “I like Boston; I genuinely would like to stay here. I’ve been places where I hated it.”

Having played previously in Philadelphia and Indiana (Turner wouldn’t say which city he hated, but safe money is on Philly), Turner had the kind of on-the-floor freedom in Boston that he never experienced before.

It was a factor in him averaging a career-high 5.5 assists last season along with making a slew of game-winning plays either scoring or finding a teammate for a score.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is still evaluating his players as to who will be in the rotation. But he sounds optimistic that when it comes to Turner, he won’t have to make that decision. Turner’s play will make it for him.

“He’s a basketball player,” Stevens said. “I anticipate he’ll find the court a lot and in big moments because he’s a basketball player.”

One of the reasons the former No. 2 overall pick has not had more success is because figuring out what position he should play has been difficult to nail down.

He’s not a point guard but has point guard-like tendencies. He’s not really a shooting guard because he doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well. Turner can play small forward, but in doing so it has a tendency to keep the ball out of his hands which doesn’t allow him to play to one of his biggest strengths which is the ability to be a play-maker from the wing position.

And with what’s expected to be a greater emphasis on Marcus Smart doing more play-making, such a move only increases the likelihood that Turner’s role will be somewhat diminished compared to last season.

In addition to his talent, Turner has something else going for him that’s a huge factor in all this – trust.

Stevens has left little doubt about how strongly he feels about Turner and what he can do to impact winning.

“The guy loves basketball and makes big plays and brings it every day,” Stevens said. “He’s a reliable guy to have on your team.”

But will that reliability benefit the Celtics this season or another team?

Turner knows all too well that a player can be traded at any time, regardless of how well they might be playing at the time.

When Philadelphia traded him to Indiana prior to the trade deadline, Turner was in the middle of a career-type season. In 54 games with the Sixers, he was averaging 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds – both career highs – along with 3.4 assists in 34.9 minutes per game. Following the trade to the Pacers, he came off the bench primarily where he averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 21.1 minutes per game.

That’s why all the talk about his future being so unsettled does not bother him or occupy his thoughts.

“Even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar got traded,” Turner said. “It is what it is. I definitely would love to stay here. But Danny (Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) has to do what’s best for the organization and leave it at that.”