Central Notes: Turner, Stewart, Williams, Bulls

Pacers center Myles Turner is the longest-tenured player on the team, having played in Indiana since being drafted in 2015. Fresh off winning the Skills Challenge at All-Star weekend as part of a Pacers trio that also featured Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin, Turner sat down with HoopsHype’s Sam Yip to discuss his career, team and philanthropic efforts.

Honestly, it’s all been a blur,” Turner said of being Indy’s longest-tenured player. “Like for real. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend my entire career here in Indianapolis, and when I see young guys coming in, I just don’t see them lasting more than two or three years. They come in with a lot of hype and whatnot, but then it just dies down.

Turner is averaging 17.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in his ninth season with the team, helping the Pacers to a 31-25 record at the break. With Haliburton and Turner as fixtures, the Pacers have transformed into a playoff contender, virtually removing the big man from trade rumors that have followed him throughout his career.

Honestly, I still got PTSD from that, so I really didn’t even feel super secure at that,” Turner said of those rumors. “I was kinda expecting at least a rumor or something here and there (at this season’s deadline), but I’m just very fortunate to be in the same position. A little bit… I guess you can say that. I think it was just more of that we had a more clear-cut idea of the direction we were going with so it made it easier for me.

Clippers forward Paul George has expressed a desire to remain in Los Angeles but has yet to reach an extension agreement with his current team, and rumors have started to circulate about the possibility of George and Indiana reuniting this offseason. Turner and George played together from 2015-17.

PG was my favorite teammate, personally,” Turner said. “When I first got here to the league, he’s someone who took me under his wing, and obviously he’s one of the most dynamic players that’s out there right now. And I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated his approach to the game, so he’s definitely someone I rock with.

I recommend checking out the rest of Turner and Yip’s conversation here.

We have more notes from the Central Division:

  • Phoenix Municipal Court set a Feb. 23 court date for Pistons center Isaiah Stewart on a misdemeanor assault charge, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter link). Stewart was arrested and issued a citation on Thursday after punching Suns center Drew Eubanks in the face.
  • Even though the Pistons have been improved as of late, the season as a whole has been hard to stomach. Shawn Windsor of Detroit Free Press (subscriber link) argues that Monty Williams‘ rotations are stunting the team’s ability to develop. Windsor asserts that playing all five reserves at a time is a mistake and – despite recent moves – all-bench lineups continue to bleed points. Another questionable decision was to play Killian Hayes, whom the Pistons released at the deadline, over Jaden Ivey, who looks like a long-term fixture, according to Windsor.
  • The Bulls know what they have to do to secure a play-in and potential playoff spot, and DeMar DeRozan expressed confidence in the team’s ability to make a postseason push, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Now we can kind of just breathe a little and gather our minds and emotions,” DeRozan said. “Get some bodies back and get rejuvenated for the next 27 games. We’re going to need to put everything and more into those.
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