Evan Turner

Blazers get better long-distance shooting in Kent Bazemore trade

Blazers get better long-distance shooting in Kent Bazemore trade

Evan Turner is out and Kent Bazemore is in for the Trail Blazers, bringing an improvement in three-point shooting – a need for the team.

Portland acquired Bazemore from the Atlanta Hawks Monday in a straight one-for-one deal for Turner, a trade of two players with a year left on their contracts. Bazemore exercised his player option on his deal last week, a contract that reportedly will pay him $19,269,662. Turner’s final season with Portland would have paid him a reported $18,606,557.

“Kent’s skillset and ability to make an impact at both ends of the floor will be an excellent addition to our team and bolsters our perimeter prior to the start of free agency,” said Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations.

Bazemore, who turns 30 on July 1, has played both small forward and off-guard, much like Turner, who will turn 31 in late October. Bazemore is known as a solid defender who has had two seasons in the top 20 in steal percentage. He is a career .352 shooter from three-point range while Turner sits at .296 for his career. Last season Bazemore shot 32 percent from three while Turner made 21.2 percent of his shots from distance.

Last season Turner averaged 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game and had back-to-back triple-doubles during the season. Bazemore averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Bazemore played 24.5 minutes per game while Turner averaged 22 minutes.

Turner was a very popular player among his teammates and was solid at the foul line and defensively in late-game situations. He was also often the playmaker for the team's second unit.

Bazemore has shot 39.9 percent on corner threes for his career, 30 points higher than Portland free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu has shot in his career from the same distance. Turner has shot .343 from the corner on threes.

 

 

Social media reacts to Evan Turner trade news

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USA Today Images

Social media reacts to Evan Turner trade news

Evan Turner’s time in Portland has come to an end.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the 30-year-old forward-guard has been traded to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Kent Bazemore.

Following news of the trade, here’s a look at how fans, media and even Turner himself reacted on social media. 

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“And when I’m gone they gone remember me. Not for how I hoop but for my energy..” Pdx, it’s been real. I enjoyed the journey, team accomplishments, and vibe of the PNW To my teammates: we did a lot of great things together. We overcame a lot because we were a true team and we persevered together. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey. The sky is the limit Blazers organization: Thank you for allowing me to come to work in a positive environment! I was able to make a lot of bonds beyond basketball with the coaching staff and all the people behind the scenes. First class place that will only keep reaping the benefits of good karma. Last but not least, THANKS FOR THE CHEESE 🤑 #namingmydogneil

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https://www.instagram.com/p/BzG-LwqFF47/

Report: Evan Turner traded to Atlanta

Report: Evan Turner traded to Atlanta

According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to send Evan Turner to the Atlanta Hawks for Kent Bazemore. 

Turner had just finished his third season with the Blazers and is entering the last year of a four-year, $70 million deal. 

Turner had one of the worst season's of his career last year, averaging just 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3,9 assist per game. In exchange, the Blazers are getting Bazemore, a 6'5" guard that averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game for the Hawks. 

This deal is essentially a swap of bad, expiring contracts. Turner is set to make $18.6 million next season, while Bazemore is set to make $19.3 million.

Stayed tuned to NBC Sports Northwest for all the latest updates. 

Around the web: The best of Blazers social media

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NBCSNW

Around the web: The best of Blazers social media

Thanks to social media fans, get a glimpse into the true offseason from some of their favorite NBA players. From Enes Kanter's epic cheat meals, to a rookie learning tough lessons about Portland traffic, social media brought us along for the ride. Here are some of the best social media posts of the last week from your Portland Trail Blazers. 

 

What went wrong on Portland's wing this year?

What went wrong on Portland's wing this year?

The Portland Trail Blazers had the same fatal flaw this season that they had last season. And the season before that, and the season before that. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, embattled by double teams in the playoffs, were better this year at moving the ball before opponents could cause turnovers. But they needed the recipients of those passes — or the recipients of the passes from those passes — to knock down open 3-pointers.

They didn’t.

Portland had a wonderful season, and its strength was largely due to the rise in production by Jusuf Nurkic and the faith its bench unit had in each other. Both of those things were taken away in the postseason. Nurkic sat out with a broken leg, and with Terry Stotts shortening his rotation in the playoffs, the backups looked unsteady.

That put pressure on the Blazers’ high-minute wing players to perform. Moe Harkless, Evan Turner, Rodney Hood, and Al-Farouq Aminu were on the attacking end of plays where imbalances on McCollum and Lillard should have let them dominate. They got more open looks, and were in better positions during these playoffs.

In part, Portland used those gaps in the defense to punish opponents with passing. The ball moved more, particularly to the high post. The nail acted as a pivot point: cutters ran the baseline and collapsing defenders dictated whether a layup or a corner 3-pointer was the best shot available.

Aminu, with his trebuchet-style shooting form, hit just 24 percent of his corner treys, per Cleaning the Glass. Harkless knocked down 14 percent from the same area, an astonishing number. Turner took and hit a single three all postseason.

This resulted in defenses being able to clamp down a bit more on Hood and Seth Curry, the two known quantities as shooters. Portland’s designated bench gunners — both subject to taking above-the-break threes already — were more predictable and thus, easier to guard.

Hood shot 33 percent on non-corner threes, and his stats from deep ranked him in the 59th percentile for the playoffs at his position. Curry put up better numbers, but his game log was uneven. He played heavy minutes for the Blazers in the postseason but in 12 of 16 games played, Curry’s jumper accounted for either one or zero 3-pointers. Without volume, Curry’s effect was limited. With that limitation, Hood had to do the bulk of the bench 3-point scoring. It just wasn’t enough.

That’s without mentioning Turner, whose inability to shoot one again hurt the Blazers. Turner was brought in to relieve trapping pressure from Lillard and McCollum in 2016. It didn't quite go as planned, but this season Turner finally found his niche as the independent leader of the bench unit. That was a positive for the Blazers, but the reason why Turner wasn't able to act as a release valve for Portland’s stars remained.

That takes us back to Aminu and Harkless. The younger forward, who battled nagging injuries all season long, came on strong in the final two months of the year. Although his shooting suffered, he was an effective scorer and his offensive rating jumped in March and April. But Aminu was never a threat, and in the playoffs opponents often allowed him space to shoot so they could prevent Portland from dominating the offensive glass. As Harkless’ percentages in the postseason rounded out, eventually he was left more space, too.

At their core, the Trail Blazers need more wing shooting. They know that — it's why they’ve stuck with Harkless for so long. Where Aminu provides defense and others must make up for his lack of 3-point consistency, Harkless could provide both. He’s shown flashes of brilliance, including during his first season with Portland in 2015-16, when Harkless was exactly the player Neil Olshey wanted in the postseason. The Queens native was able to guard the best opposing wing player while also shooting effectively from 3-point range. He thrived as a cutter. He passed the ball.

This postseason, Portland was forced to revert back to their old ways. Harkless, Aminu, Turner, Curry, and Hood provided one or two skill sets when the Blazers really needed each to give them three or four. Their compartmentalization of tasks laid bare Portland’s biggest flaws, its lack of fluidity apparent when Stotts’ rotation shrank in the postseason.

There's no easy fix for what ails this team. The front office knows exactly what they are trying to get from the wing. This summer will perhaps be their biggest test, with both Harkless and Aminu’s status with the team up in the air. Whether by trade, draft, or free agency, Portland needs a more dynamic wing lineup. It’s now their most glaring weakness, and next season can’t be played with such large disparities created by the trade-offs in roster construction as it’s stood for the past few seasons.

How should we judge Evan Turner's third season with the Blazers?

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USA Today

How should we judge Evan Turner's third season with the Blazers?

Evan Turner's role and history with the Portland Trail Blazers is complicated. Brought in in 2016 to ease some of the tension off of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in the playoffs, that narrative and his purpose has shifted. In his first two years, Turner played the traditional 3 spot, dribbling the ball on the floor with Portland’s stars. At the conclusion of 2018-19, Turner had played half of his minutes as a true point guard, often with neither McCollum or Lillard on the floor.

This change in usage was reflected most in Turner's assist percentage, which doubled year-over-year. Turner's turnovers went up as well, and we saw him start to hone his game. He shot even fewer 3-pointers, and for much of the season he was the catalyst that pushed the Blazers’ second unit forward.

That was important for Portland, a team that has not only shifted Turner's role, but how it relies on its personnel over the past three seasons. At certain points over this season, the second-most important factor for the Blazers was: Jusuf Nurkic, defense, Turner, the second unit, and Jake Layman. It simply depended on which month — or sometimes which week — you were asking about. 

Turner was supposed to be vital for Portland heading into this postseason. They knew they didn't have Nurkic, and as both injuries piled up and Ramadan approached, the Blazers needed the comfortability and reliability of Turner in that bench unit.

Of course, that's not what Portland got from Turner. 

In the postseason this year, Turner scored a measly 2.7 points per game, shooting  32.6  percent from the field. Defensively he was solid, but Turner just didn’t have the impact necessary on offense and at times he became unplayable. Terry Stotts apparently thought so, too, and the 22-minute per night Turner hit that mark twice in the postseason — both against the Golden State Warriors. He withered, and the fervor around the discussion of his staying in Rip City has been dialed up once again.

It's possible that Turner was out of his comfort zone. The players he passed to during the regular season got erratic playing time in the postseason. Stotts’ truncated layoff lineup meant Zach Collins, Seth Curry, and Meyers Leonard —  three of the top five recipients of Turner’s passes during the year — were no longer steadily playing.

Absent that, Turner's poor playoff performance was at least partially the result of the inherent issues at hand with this Blazers roster: there's not enough shooting, and the coaching staff doesn’t trust the end of the bench on defense. In the playoffs, Turner played less with sharpshooting talent and more with Portland’s starting wings in Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu. His ability to generate offense as a passer was tied to their inability to shoot the ball.

In that way, we end the 2018-19 NBA season a bit like we did several years ago, after Turner's first playoff performance underwhelmed. Portland’s system has been scouted, and although Stotts has added wrinkles to this offense, it's not enough to overtake the lack of shooting production per dollar spent, compartmentalized by individual contracts. 

As a regular-season ball handler and dynamic forward who can guard four positions, Turner has molded himself into something approaching the value of his $70 million deal. But on a team that has as many fatal flaws as the Blazers do — aggravated by a lack of wing shooting — Turner finds himself back where he started.

The initial assessment of Turner was that Neil Olshey overpaid him, even for the role he was sold on several summers ago. Yes, the Blazers did need a way to get the ball out of Lillard and McCollum’s hands against postseason traps, but Portland still required additional shooting. They don't have that yet, and so Turner looks worse in comparison.

Unfortunately, a more complex consideration of Turner’s use in Portland, one that takes into account his excellent regular season progress, results in much the same outcome. He can’t shoot, and because he’s a dribbler but not a driver, a lack of individual offense limits what Turner can produce himself.

Evan Turner is a good basketball player, although overpaid. He would be an excellent piece on a legitimate Western Conference Finals contender, but at this point the team around him doesn't require a man of his talents. In that way, Portland is constructed a bit backwards. Long-term wing shooting will be of particular desire this summer for Olshey. That might help Turner moving forward.

For now, much like Portland itself, Turner remains a useful-but-flawed player with an obvious obstacle to overcome. And like the Blazers, there’s no clear route to fix what ails him.

ET and Moe take on Paris

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USA Today

ET and Moe take on Paris

The Blazers offseason is in full swing and thanks to social media we have a great idea of what our favorite players are doing all summer long. 

Meyers Leonard is taking his talents to YouTube, Evan Turner and Maurice Harkless are taking over Paris, while CJ McCollum is in China. 

Here is a quick look back at some of the Blazers best social media posts of the last week. 

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Merci!

A post shared by Maurice Harkless (@moe_harkless) on

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Mercí, Paris

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Damian Lillard wasn't hitting the vacation road, but he did stop on Instagram to take the time to say goodbye to assistant coach David Vanterpool. Vanterpool is leaving the organization to become an assistant coach in Minnesota, and Lillard had some parting words for this friend and mentor. 

With adversity and experience, Evan Turner was ready for it all

With adversity and experience, Evan Turner was ready for it all

DENVER – “This is surreal.”

That was the statement heard around the Trail Blazers locker room as Meyers Leonard said it loud and proud knowing the Blazers are heading to the Western Conference Finals.

Down 17 points in the first half, Rodney Hood, the most consistent second unit player, goes out with an injury midway through the third quarter, starting the game 0-for-10 from three, and Damian Lillard scored zero points in the first quarter for just the second time in his playoff career, after hearing all of that wouldn’t you say that was “arguably the biggest win for the Blazers franchise in a long time?”

That’s exactly what Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said after his team fought back to take their series against the Denver Nuggets in Game 7, 100-96.

Coach Stotts’ big second half adjustment was starting Rodney Hood along with Zach Collins at the forward positions in the third quarter instead of Maurice Harkless and Al-Farqou Aminu.

But not even six minutes into the quarter, Hood went down with a left knee hyperextension and he did not return to the game. 

Just as it has been all season long, a Trail Blazer player stepped up when called upon.

With Hood out, Evan Turner became Mr. Clutch on Sunday.

“You can’t really put into words how much [Evan] meant to us out there tonight, especially with Rodney going down, obviously we know how good Rodney has been this whole series and to see him go down was tough, but it speaks to the resiliency of this team,” Collins said.

Turner was the only bench player to score in double figures with 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting and unwavering 8-of-9 from the free throw line.

In true Evan Turner fashion, he told Trail Blazers radio immediately after the game, “not bad for an end of the bench scrub.”

Yes, counting on ET for good laugh while listening to his postgame comments is always a no-brainer.

In Game 7, the Blazers counted on him down the stretch.

Two of Turner’s eight free throws were made with 8.0 seconds remaining on the clock. Those two free throws iced the game.

“We just kept leaning on each other and tonight we had to lean on Evan a little more and he was more than up for that task, Collins said. “[He] made so many big plays at the end of the game – rebounding, making free throws, getting fouled, getting stops on defense, I mean, he was huge."

It was CJ McCollum who carried the Blazers for the entire game. McCollum finished with 37 points and nine rebounds in the win.

But as the Blazers said, it was a total team effort in Game 7.

Coach Stotts’ faith in Turner has never wavered.

“Evan quietly had a really good series. I know everybody kind of looks at his scoring, but our second unit was really good throughout this series, all seven games…  His ability to guard Paul Millsap one-on-one in the post gave us the ability to space the court on offense and have him be a ball handler,” Stotts said. 

“Evan has been in big games. Evan is a big-game player.  He’s got a lot of confidence, he’s a team guy and kind of does whatever we need him to do,” Stotts added.

Turner attributes him staying cool under pressure to being in the league for nine years. 

“Me being a pro, and me being in the league for so long,” Turner said. “[I’ve been] fortunate to be in these types of situations already throughout my career. I kind of knew that in pressure time, I’d be fine. That’s just how I’ve always been.”

When Turner knows he has to contribute on offense that’s when ET shines the brightest. Some might even say like a diamond.  

“Pressure can bust pipes or make diamonds so we never thought we were going to lose,” Turner said.

The Trail Blazers are now heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years.

There’s no doubt the Blazers have built a special culture and in his postgame press conference, Damian Lillard mentioned how “it takes everybody” to build what they have built over the last few years.

“Everybody is invested in what we’ve created… It takes everybody to be all-in and that’s what it was tonight,” Lillard said.

That all-in mentality will now be heading to the Bay Area.

CJ McCollum, team culture carry Trail Blazers to Western Conference finals

CJ McCollum, team culture carry Trail Blazers to Western Conference finals

DENVER – This amazing, incredible Sunday afternoon triumph – Trail Blazer owner Jody Allen called it “gritty” in her passionate speech to the Trail Blazers in their locker room – that vaulted Portland into the Western Conference finals against Golden State was a long time coming.

And it had so much to do with the team’s culture, its pride and its unwillingness to quit. And oh yes, CJ McCollum was other-worldly. And staff, front office, coaches – everyone there in the team’s family – was celebrating hard in the locker room and its vicinity when it ended.

“It speaks to the character of our organization and what we’ve become,” said Damian Lillard, after his team rallied from a 17-point second-quarter deficit to beat the Nuggets 100-96. “Obviously, we had the roster turnover four years ago and everybody was quick to shoot us down, count us out.

“And at that point, we didn’t know for sure what direction we were going to go in. But we definitely leaned on the culture that we wanted to create – doing things the right way, working hard, being about each other, not being about one guy or two guys. I think we really built that up from the jump. And to have that, it takes everybody – not just the players. You’ve got to have the coaches, the training staff, the front office, the security, everybody who is with us there every day. The PR staff – everybody we see every day.

“Everybody is invested in what we created,. I think when we come out on top in game like this, a tough series like this, you see it in everybody’s celebration.

“It’s exciting because we all play a part in it. You don’t just create this type of thing with just the players. It takes everybody to be all in. And that’s what it was tonight.”

Lillard was only 3-17 from the field but had 10 rebounds and eight assists to go with 13 points. McCollum carried the heavy scoring burden with 37 points on 17=29 shooting and he added nine rebounds.

But as Lillard said, even when Rodney Hood was lost for the game with a hyper-extended knee, the team got major contributions from Zach Collins, Enes Kanter, Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard.

Leonard, who arrived in Portland the same season as Lillard, was visibly emotional in the locker room.

“Emotional and happy,” he said. “This is surreal, man. This is seven years in the making. I was just talking to Dame. We were horrible our rookie year, then we were a 50-win playoff team two years in a row, then we decided to blow it up. We continued to bring in guys who wanted to work, who were good people, who were true professionals, who understood what we wanted.

“Then we go to the second round, then we get swept by the Warriors, then we get swept by New Orleans. All with the same team – almost the same people. Yet, we came out on the other end of it that much better. And that’s the most amazing thing about this team.

“We’ve added some guys but this has been an incredible run. But we’re not done yet. I’ve said this, I had a quote the other night, people from the outside looking in don’t know about this locker room and what we’ve been through.

“Every single guy is ready to play at any given moment. Every single guy wants the next guy to do well. And this has been a special run and this is a special team. There’s just been a lot of things that have happened – us getting swept, Mr. Allen’s passing, Nurk’s injury, I can go on down the line. There’s just been things that you would have thought would have knocked us out, that we would have thrown in the towel.

“But we haven’t. I would tell you, I’m a big communicator on the bench,. And I’ve never been around a group of guys that believes so much. And I’m a big believer, also.

“Even when we were down 17, I wasn’t worried because this is just a special team and guys that know how to get it done. It’s unbelievable.

“Maybe in the morning I will wake up and understand what happened but you should have seen us – staff, front office, coaches, players, everybody from top to bottom so happy for each other. This is a truly special team and special organization.

“People care and people work together. (Jody Allen) spoke really well. She was passionate, told us how immensely proud she is of us, the way we played with heart and determination and grit, that she’s proud to be a part of it.

“I thought that was pretty special considering everything that’s happened.”

Bert Kolde has been a part of the organization since his friend, Paul Allen, bought the team in 1988. Allen lost his battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in October and his sister, Jody, took over at the helm of the team.

“It’s been a legendary playoff run,” Kolde said after leaving the locker room celebration. “A magic carpet ride. And I feel that Paul’s spirit is watching over us. It’s special. It feels really special.”

Portland caught up with the Nuggets at the end of the third quarter and took a brief one-point lead but Denver led by a point heading into the final quarter, when the winners outscored the Nuggets 29-24.

McCollum had a chase-down block of a breakaway layup after Seth Curry went low to force the shot up high and that was a big play in the period.

“He put it right there for me and I just went and got it, ‘Bron-style,’” McCollum said. “Shout-out to my guy Bron (LeBron James). It was a mini-version of LeBron’s block on Iggy a few years ago. It’s something we will remember forever. I might have to get a picture of that one.”

Turner iced the game with two clutch foul shots with eight seconds on the clock.

“Pressure can cut pipes or make diamonds,” Turner said later. “So we never thought we were going to lose or anything like that.”

Ahead are the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors, in a series that beings Tuesday in Oakland. But I doubt the Trail Blazers will be intimidated.

“Jody told the team, it’s been a great season – SO FAR,” Kolde said with a smile.

Her late brother couldn’t have said it any better.

Evan Turner has a laugh at Enes Kanter's expense following Trail Blazers win

Evan Turner has a laugh at Enes Kanter's expense following Trail Blazers win

by James Ham

Enes Kanter is being held together by scotch tape and super glue. His left shoulder continues to hang in peril and Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic isn’t helping matters.

Playing 56 minutes isn’t exactly the cure for what ails Kanter. Following the game, he needed more treatment for his shoulder and decided to post a pic on social media to capture the moment.

Like any good teammate, Evan Turner decided to mock the Blazers starting center.

It’s all in good fun. Kanter posted 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and chipped in three steals and a block.

Turner on the other hand logged just 12 minutes. He was clearly fresh and full of wit following the epic 68 minute quadruple overtime contest.