The Sixers are in an unusual position with Evan Turner, their No. 2 overall pick from 2010. He’s by no means developed into an All-Star, but he began his career as a versatile sixth man and turned into a starter bearing a healthy share of the team’s offensive responsibilities. He’s first on the team in points per game, albeit by a small margin, and second in shot attempts and assists per contest. Still, that production is for a 15-38 Sixers club that just became only the second team in NBA history to lose by 40 points in back-to-back outings.
Most players of value who are in the fourth year of a rookie scale contract, like Turner, have either already been signed to extensions or face a summer of limited leverage in restricted free agency. That’s not the case for the former Ohio State Buckeye, since there are serious doubts about whether the Sixers would be willing to extend the more than $8.7MM qualifying offer required to make him a restricted free agent in the offseason. If they did retain the right to match offers, they’d have to contend with agent David Falk, who has a knack for matching his restricted free agent clients with the club willing to make the highest offer, as he did when he found max money for Roy Hibbert in 2012.
There’s no shortage of teams with interest in Turner as the deadline approaches. The Suns, Clippers, Hawks, Bobcats, Mavs, Timberwolves and Spurs have all been linked to the 25-year-old since a report on February 3rd that the Sixers were amping up their effort to trade him. Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie is seeking a first-round pick in return, preferably one that’s likely to wind up between tenth and 15th in this year’s draft. That’s given many of Turner’s suitors pause, as has the notion that he could become available as an unrestricted free agent in a few months. At least one GM told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that he’d be hesitant to give up assets in a trade for Turner if he could simply sign him outright in the summer.
Of course, not every team going after Turner is set to have a ton of cap room in the offseason. The Clippers and Timberwolves have commitments for 2014/15 that will put them over the cap come July. The Wolves are on the fringes of the picture for Turner, since they reportedly have no desire to give up a first-round pick, and they can’t trade a first-rounder for any draft before 2018. The Mavs have similar draft limitations thanks to the Ted Stepien Rule.
The first-rounder is slightly more in play for the Clippers, since they can trade their first-round picks for 2017 and beyond. L.A. has Jared Dudley on the trade block, so Doc Rivers and company are clearly seeking an upgrade at small forward, the position Turner has played most frequently the past three seasons. Still, Dudley makes $4.25MM each year through 2015/16, and the Sixers might not be willing to take on that sort of long-term commitment.
The Spurs are another Western Conference contender who could make Turner a key piece of a championship run. San Antonio might be willing to trade Kawhi Leonard for a “fabulous” return, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, but Turner probably doesn’t qualify as fabulous, and the Spurs certainly wouldn’t surrender a first-round pick in that scenario. The Spurs would probably be more inclined to give up an expiring contract like Boris Diaw or Matt Bonner, but the Sixers are reportedly cool on taking back a “lesser player” for one of their veterans.
Turner wouldn’t make the Hawks contenders, but if GM Danny Ferry is high on the idea of acquiring him, the versatile Turner could take a turn at point guard for a team that reportedly isn’t enamored with Jeff Teague‘s contract. The Sixers already have their point guard of the future in Michael Carter-Williams, but former Sixers Louis Williams and Kyle Korver could make for intriguing additions instead.
The Bobcats appear to be making a strong push for Turner, and Charlotte could wind up with a 2014 first-rounder from the Pistons that falls into Hinkie’s desired 10-15 range. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and Kemba Walker are young players with varying degrees of upside who could interest the Sixers, and Philadelphia could also consent to absorbing Ben Gordon‘s bloated expiring deal if Hinkie wants to take back several of Charlotte’s recent lottery picks.
A majority of Hoops Rumors readers think Turner is worth a first-round pick, and if NBA executives agree, it looks like there are more than enough teams with interest for a deal to get done. The question might not be whether Turner is traded, but just what Hinkie is able to extract for him.