BOSTON — Do the Boston Celtics need an upgrade at the big-man position? Old friend Evan Turner doesn’t believe so.
“Nah, boy, Enes Kanter's an animal,” Turner said Friday night while in town with the Atlanta Hawks. Kanter and Turner, both locker-room levity legends, were teammates last season during Portland’s surge to the Western Conference finals. And Turner was emphatic that Kanter could hold the fort in Boston.
"No. F---. No. No. For what? Besides, what you have with Enes and [Daniel] Theis and all them, when you break it down, people don't even use centers anymore. Isn't [Joel] Embiid in Philly, 7[-foot-]5, 400 pounds, shooting 3s from half court? That's the game, right? So at the end of the day, I don't think so.”
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Turner spent two lively seasons in Boston, jump-started his career again under coach Brad Stevens, and cashed in with a mega free-agent payday in Portland. Turner got shipped to Atlanta this summer and, in the final year of that 4-year, $70 million deal, he’s accepted a flexible role that left him inactive for Friday’s game.
Unfazed, Turner noted, "I'm doing well. Life is good. I'm just chilling out.” But he’s still got plenty of opinions on all things Celtics:
BRAD DOESN’T KISS AND TELL
Turner and Stevens had a strong relationship here, remain in contact, and Turner was asked if he could sense Stevens’ frustrations about everything that went wrong in Boston a year ago.
“He's too classy really to kiss or tell in that sense, which is why you appreciate him. He's not like that,” said Turner. "He tries to stay the course. Obviously, he's also a glass half-full type of dude where it could be way worse than what people are making you believe. You could be 2-47 and the conversation is to win a championship. He's pretty poised in that sense.”
HE’S A FAN OF ALL THE FACILITY UPGRADES
Since Turner left town, Boston upgraded both its practice facility (moving from a health club in Waltham to the sparkling Auerbach Center in Brighton) and recently upgraded the home locker room at the Garden.
Crammed into a corner of the visitor’s locker room, stealing fries off the plate of fellow veteran Chandler Parsons as he lounged in a neighboring stall, Turner lamented missing out on the new digs.
“Every time I freakin' leave somewhere, y'all always get nicer s---,” said Turner. "The construction's done over there. The new practice facility and everything. Maybe it's just me.”
A reporter jokingly told Turner they had saved money by not splurging on him as a free agent.
“That’s what I’m saying! If not, they may not have been able to finish off the new practice facility, 'cause they would have given me $18 [million] a year, you know,” said Turner. “I guess, for the sake of others, it makes sense and I guess Danny [Ainge] knows what he's doing, a little bit. He took that little extra and gave [Jaylen Brown] $28 million more million than what he asked for. Good for him.”
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REMEMBERING THE 2012 PLAYOFFS
Turner was asked if he saw the movie “Uncut Gems” yet, especially since the 2012 playoff series between the Celtics and Sixers is a key plot in the movie starring Kevin Garnett. Turner joked that Parsons had just mentioned the flick and, while he hasn’t seen it yet, he happily reflected back.
"That was fun. Obviously, going to Game 7 at the Garden with the Big Three, Big Four, Doc [Rivers] was the coach. It was cool,” said Turner. "It’s a great experience. It was fun. You’re guarding Ray Allen. You’re getting Playoff Rondo — 15, 15, 15, that type of stuff. I remember having some pretty good games and I remember comprehending what it takes to try to get over the hump or whatever.
"That was a good experience to have. And being in Boston during that time, just seeing how the city was electric and stuff was cool. It was a memorable playoff and I definitely appreciate there being so young, especially considering how most people don’t win young. I was able to make the playoffs my first few years in the league and carry it on after that. So I think those type of teachings and stuff really cemented me to be able to play as long as I have already.”
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Bulls, which tips off Friday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Scal have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.