Since he told reporters on January 4 that the Hawks would be making him and Chandler Parsons inactive going forward, Evan Turner hasn’t played a single minute for Atlanta. The Hawks have focused on their youth movement, which has essentially made Turner an afterthought — unless his expiring $18.6MM salary can be used in a trade that nets the club a future asset.
It’s a new experience for Turner, a former No. 2 overall pick who has appeared in more than 700 career regular season games and had never averaged fewer than 22 minutes per contest entering this season. Still, he tells Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, he understands the Hawks’ position and is remaining positive even as his role has disappeared.
As Turner continues to work out and stay in game shape in the hopes of eventually getting an opportunity to return to the court in Atlanta or elsewhere, the 31-year-old spoke to Kirschner about his experience with the Hawks this season, whether or not he’ll seek a buyout next month, and his outlook on the team’s future.
Here are a few highlights from the discussion, which is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber:
On why he thinks things didn’t work out after the Hawks brought him in to be Trae Young‘s backup:
“I’ve been injured some, and being Trae’s backup means he’s averaging 36 (minutes) per game, so what would I be playing? Like three minutes at a time? That’s not like any type of diss or anything like that. If you don’t know the conversation we’re having, you get a bitter individual. That’s not the case. You say Trae’s backup, and that’s 12 minutes, maybe. I also understand that it’s about development. Like Brandon (Goodwin), he’s gotten a great opportunity to continue to vibe in this league, and I’m excited for him for that.”
On how long it took him to accept his role – or lack thereof – in Atlanta:
“To be completely honest, when we started the season, you could see that we had already broken down, and we’re rebuilding, rebuilding. You see signs pointing toward it. I try not to dwell on that stuff. I do my best to try to control what I can control. When it comes down to it, the one thing I try not to do, as a man, is I don’t like the front-running s–t. ‘When s–t is going well for me, I’m happy, and when it’s not going well for me, I’m b—hing.’ Nah. For me personally, there’s never been a moment where I’ve been like that.”
On whether he might seek a buyout in search of a new opportunity next month:
“You just walk out and say, ‘Look, bruh, this little buyout means I’m going to get all my bread, right?’ If he says no, you say, ‘Well, you might as well learn my favorite color.’ You let your agent worry about that stuff, though. I think (GM) Travis (Schlenk) is a classy dude. I’ve never gotten the sense from him where he’s not going to be honest or do you right. I don’t think it’s going to be too much of a haggle. I’m not saying he owes me anything, and I don’t owe him anything, but I just think I’ve never gotten the sense from him where we’ll be arguing over a few pennies. I’m not going to worry about that, and wherever it takes me, it’s all good. It’s all going to be OK.”
On the Hawks’ long-term potential:
“I think the biggest thing is if they have established roles and figure it out, I think we could be dangerous. These aren’t little kids. You have a guy like De’Andre (Hunter), who’s 6’8″ and like 220 (pounds). You have a kid like Cam (Reddish), who’s had up and down moments but when he gets going, he has All-Star written on him. … You have dudes like Trae, who can do what we needs to do and is a possible All-Star this season. John Collins is going to be legit. I think if they turn the right corner, they have pieces you can trade for. I think they’re going to be OK.”