Evan Turner

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Devonte’ Graham, Hornets, 24, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2018
The Hornets have until July 7th to decide whether to guarantee Graham’s $1,663,861 for next season. Safe to say, that decision has already been made. In terms of salary vs. production, Graham might be the biggest bargain in the league this season. Making just over $1.4MM, Graham leads the team in scoring at 18.0 PPG and 7.3 APG while coming off the bench in all but one game. The Kansas product appeared in 46 games last season, averaging 4.7 PPG in 14.7 MPG. With Kemba Walker bolting to Boston, Graham has blossomed in an expanded role.

Goran Dragic, Heat, 33, PG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2015
Dragic played in just 36 games last season due to right knee surgery. Dragic, now 33, has been a starter most of his career and had to adjust to a second-unit role this season. Thus far, he’s been healthy and productive. He’s averaging 16.1 PPG and 5.1 APG in 28.4 MPG while making just 1.8 TPG. Dragic’s $19.2MM expiring contract is a tradeable asset if the Heat decide to shed salary. For now, Dragic is a valuable part of an improved team that should make the playoffs out of arguably the weakest division in the NBA.

Evan Fournier, Magic, 27, SG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2016
Following a couple of sluggish outings against Oklahoma City and Dallas in which he shot 3-for-12 from the field, Fournier has put together a nice three-game stretch. He’s averaged 18.0 PPG and 5.0 APG during that span while knocking down nine 3-pointers and committing just four turnovers. Orlando won two of those games. The team’s second-leading scorer has a $17.15MM option on his contract for next season. In a very weak free agent market, Fournier has plenty of incentive to decline that option in order to secure another long-term deal.

Evan Turner, Hawks, 31, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $70MM deal in 2016
A rotation piece for a playoff team in recent seasons, Turner was swapped by the Trail Blazers for Kent Bazemore during the offseason. Turner was expected to provide veteran stability to a mostly inexperienced unit in Atlanta. But he only averaged 11.3 MPG during the Hawks’ first three games before being sidelined by Achilles soreness. It’s uncertain how much time Turner will require to recover from the injury. In the meantime, Atlanta has plenty of other options at the wing positions and the return of Allen Crabbe further clouds Turner’s role whenever he’s healthy enough to play.

Isaiah Thomas, Wizards, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.32MM deal in 2019
Thomas’ latest attempt to revive his career seems to be working out. Since returning from a training camp injury, Thomas has jumped into the rotation and seen his playing time steadily increase. He’s averaging 13.9 PPG and 6.3 APG while shooting 38.5 percent from long range in 24.1 MPG. Following a lost season in Denver, Thomas has at least reestablished himself as a rotation player. That’s a heartwarming development for a popular player who was an MVP candidate just a few seasons ago in Boston.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Johnson, Turner, Jones, Wizards

James Johnson‘s agent Mark Bartelstein said his client has been absent from the Heat’s training camp because of his weight rather than his conditioning, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports.

Johnson hasn’t been allowed to participate in camp until he reaches that weight goal set by Heat president Pat Riley. Bartelstein said Johnson passed the team’s conditioning test and will return to the team “shortly,” Jackson adds. Johnson has a $15.3MM salary this season with a $16MM player option next season.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce wants to take advantage Evan Turner‘s versatility, Kevin Chouinard of the team’s website tweets. Turner will serve as the backup point guard and will also be employed as a small-ball power forward along with playing the wing. Turner was acquired from the Blazers for Kent Bazemore.
  • Forward Jemerrio Jones is trying to gain a role with the Wizards via his rebounding and hustle, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington details.  Jones, who played six games with the Lakers last season as a rookie, has a $1,416,852 salary, but less than $200K is guaranteed. “I go hard in the paint,” he said. “[Fans] are going to like the hustle in me. You gotta pay people to play hard now, but it’s in me.” Jones was acquired in the three-team blockbuster that brought Anthony Davis to Los Angeles.
  • Thomas Bryant inspires his other young Wizards teammates to exceed expectations, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Bryant, who was cut loose by the Lakers, earned a three-year, $25MM contract after replacing injured Dwight Howard as the starting center last season. “The opportunity that he got, making the best of getting cut, it’s incredible for me to observe,” second-year center Moritz Wagner said. “I’m very happy to do this with him together.”

Kevin Huerter Talks Hawks’ Draft, 2019/20 Goals

Culture and locker-room fit were important considerations for the Hawks as they made roster moves this offseason, second-year shooting guard Kevin Huerter tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. As Huerter explains, head coach Lloyd Pierce talked on multiple occasions about not bringing in anyone who would be detrimental to the culture the team is trying to build in Atlanta.

“I think every player we brought in has some sort of relationship with one of our coaches or [executives], so they know that we’re bringing in really good guys,” Huerter said. “I think that was really important, first and foremost, especially with a team that could still go through a lot of ups and downs. You don’t want someone in the locker room who is making everyone miserable.”

While Huerter is optimistic about what Allen Crabbe, Jabari Parker, Evan Turner, and Chandler Parsons can contribute on the court, he views those incoming veterans as guys who will “contribute off the court as well,” as he tells Kennedy.

Huerter spoke to Kennedy about many more topics, including the Hawks’ draft, their future free agent outlook, and their expectations for the 2019/20 season. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from the former Maryland standout:

On the Hawks drafting De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Bruno Fernando:

“I thought our draft was great. There are very few teams that can come out of the draft saying they got exactly who they wanted, but those three guys are literally the exact players we wanted going into the draft. Anytime that happens, it’s an extremely successful draft.

“I think those guys bring a different dynamic to our team that we didn’t have. De’Andre is a 3/4 and he’s a really good defender, so he was a great pick for us. Cam just has so much potential on the offensive end and what his ceiling could be makes him great for us as well. Bruno is NBA-ready. I think it can be tough for some bigs as they enter the NBA because of how physical it is, but Bruno is physically NBA-ready. Again, I thought it was a really good draft for us.”

On whether free agents will seriously consider the Hawks as they continue to improve:

“Hopefully. Any team that wins becomes pretty attractive to free agents. You see that happen a lot. But for me, our core group of guys could – and should – be enough for us. That’s the way that winning teams are built, at least in the old days. When you want to want to build something that lasts, it’s homegrown guys. But, again, hopefully if we win, [players will want to sign here] and we can figure out which positions we need moving forward. Adding free agents down the line won’t be a bad thing, but first you need to win and then everything else comes with it.”

On whether the Hawks have discussed a goal of making the playoffs in 2019/20:

“Honestly, no. Playoffs, for us, isn’t really a word we talk about – all we talk about is winning more than 29 games. We know how honestly close we were last year – we weren’t too far off from that eighth seed – but we’re probably not going to talk about it for most of the year. It’s not something we talk about in the locker room, trying to sneak in [to the playoffs]. It’s literally just, ‘We’re going to win more than 29 games and continue to get better.’ Then whatever happens, happens.”

Blazers, Hawks Swap Evan Turner, Kent Bazemore

6:07pm: The trade is official, according to a league press release.

2:55pm: The Trail Blazers and Hawks have agreed to a trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that the teams are swapping veterans Evan Turner and Kent Bazemore.

Turner and Bazemore signed nearly identical four-year, $70MM contracts during the summer of 2016, so both players will be on expiring deals during the 2019/20 season. Since Bazemore’s contract was a little more backloaded, he’ll be slightly more expensive next season, earning a salary of $19.27MM compared to Turner’s $18.61MM.

For Portland, Bazemore will be a three-and-D piece who could help space the floor around the team’s play-making guards. The veteran swingman struggled in 2018/19, battling some health issues and finishing with just 11.6 PPG on .402/.320/.726 shooting in 67 games (24.5 MPG). However, he has been a more reliable rotation player in the past, having made 36.5% of his three-pointers in his first four years in Atlanta, including 39.4% in 2017/18.

Bazemore should be a good fit on a Trail Blazers roster that could use another three-point marksman on the wing. In the postseason, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Meyers Leonard were fairly reliable from outside, but the only wings making threes for Portland were Seth Curry and Rodney Hood — both players are free agents this summer.

Turner, on the other hand, has never been much of an outside threat, but can be a secondary play-maker, having taken on a good deal of ball-handling responsibilities on the Trail Blazers’ second unit last season. He averaged 6.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 3.9 APG on .460/.212/.708 shooting in 73 games (22.0 MPG).

The Blazers believe that 2018 first-rounder Anfernee Simons can take on a bigger play-making role off the bench next season, tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic.

With sharpshooter Allen Crabbe arriving in a trade with Brooklyn, Atlanta views Turner’s skill set as more of a fit than Bazemore’s on this year’s roster. The Hawks envision Turner in the backup point guard role and want to open up some minutes for young players like De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter as well, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

The Blazers and Hawks won’t have to wait until the new league year begins to consummate this deal, since Turner’s and Bazemore’s cap charges are so similar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Blazers Notes: Ownership, Nurkic, Hood, Kanter

While there’s a perception in NBA circles that the Trail Blazers‘ ownership situation is unsettled in the wake of Paul Allen‘s death last fall, the team’s head of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, doesn’t subscribe to that notion, as Jason Quick of The Athletic relays.

“Nothing is unsettled. Jody is our owner,” Olshey said during the Blazers’ exit interviews, referring to Paul’s sister Jody Allen. “She has been fantastic in terms of engagement. She has addressed the team when we’ve asked her to. She was really emotional after the OKC series, that was the validation, knowing how much Paul believed in the core of this group and to see it come to fruition.

“Jody stepped up and spoke to the team in a way that resonated with everybody and struck a chord with the players and staff and everyone there that she has our back, she has a vision for the franchise, she believes in the group, she cares about the players, and the magnitude of what she has had to take on,” Olshey continued, per Quick. “At a time when we needed ownership to show solidarity with the front office, the coaching staff, the business division, she was there for us.”

Allen has exhibited that commitment to the franchise since Portland’s season ended earlier this month, having locked up Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts to contract extensions.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • According to Olshey (via Quick), injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is making “great progress” from his broken left leg. While the team hasn’t offered a specific recovery timetable for Nurkic, Quick speculates that the big man could be ready to return to action sometime just before next season’s All-Star break. “Guys can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago,” Olshey said of Nurkic. “He is a core piece to this roster, a foundational piece going forward, and we are going to drive him. But also knowing we are going to do what’s best for Nurk on a long-term basis in terms of his recovery and his timeline.”
  • The Blazers aren’t expecting to be able to retain Rodney Hood or Enes Kanter using the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be worth about $5.7MM), writes Quick. If the club can shed enough salary to gain access to the full mid-level exception – or Hood and Kanter don’t receive as much interest as anticipated – Hood would likely be the priority over Kanter, in Quick’s view.
  • Quick doesn’t expect the Blazers’ three big expiring contracts for Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Maurice Harkless to garner a ton of interest on the trade market this offseason, contending that they could become more intriguing trade chips during the season.
  • Former St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds is set to work out for the Trail Blazers on Friday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. According to Quick, Portland will likely only hold “three or four” pre-draft workouts since the club has just one pick (No. 25) in this year’s draft.

Trail Blazers Rumors: Stotts, Lillard, Collins

After their 2017/18 season ended with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Pelicans in the first round of the postseason, the Trail Blazers came close to firing head coach Terry Stotts, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Portland was close enough to making a move that teams like the Suns begin reaching out to intermediaries to gauge Stotts’ potential interest in their own coaching openings.

However, while ownership seriously considered a change, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey and star point guard Damian Lillard fought for Stotts, according to Lowe.

“I was asked what I thought, and I just said I love him as a coach,” Lillard said of Stotts. “We all love him.”

Lowe’s piece takes a deep dive into the Trail Blazers’ culture, as he notes that Lillard and C.J. McCollum “tolerate no squabbling, or blame games.” That attitude permeates the organization from top to bottom, according to Lowe, who points to the relationship between Olshey and Stotts as another example.

Although the two team leaders haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on everything, they’ve developed an understanding that Olshey will avoid players who don’t fit Stotts’ style and Stotts will coach the players he gets. As a result of their relationship, Lowe explains, players will never see Olshey and Stotts at odds in any serious way, as the organization emphasizes a drama-free and resentment-free culture.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Blazers:

  • The Blazers’ late owner Paul Allen, who passed away last month, addressed the team in the wake of its first-round exit, calling the four-game sweep “unacceptable,” sources tell Lowe. Based on the language and the tone, people within the organization were nervous that a major shakeup was coming during the offseason.
  • Allen was ultimately convinced to give everyone – including Stotts and the Blazers’ core – one more season, while team management and coaches vowed to make changes heading into 2018/19. Namely, as Lowe details, Portland wanted to surround Evan Turner with more shooting on the second unit, re-shuffle the rotation to get Lillard and McCollum more playing time together, and get off to a faster start this season. So far, that plan is going well.
  • The Blazers still want to find a way to supplement their Lillard/McCollum duo with a third impact player, sources around the NBA tell Lowe. Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic have emerged as perhaps Portland’s most valuable trade chips, but the club doesn’t want to trade Collins and “almost certainly won’t” anytime soon, Lowe reports.
  • Lowe identifies Khris Middleton and Tobias Harris as the type of player who would appeal to the Blazers, though acquiring either of those guys in a trade or as a free agent would be an extreme long shot. Forwards like Otto Porter of the Wizards and Taurean Prince of the Hawks may be more realistic trade targets, Lowe notes.
  • Lillard still believes the Blazers are capable of reaching greater heights during his tenure with the team. “Good things come to good people, even if you get swept somewhere along the way,” he tells Lowe. “This is what goes through my mind: I’m gonna be in my 11th year or something here, I’m gonna stick with it, and we’re gonna make the Finals.”

Injury Updates: Smart, Curry, Hill, Turner

Celtics guard Marcus Smart may be getting closer to a return, writes Marc D’Amico of NBA.com. Smart, who had surgery on his right thumb and has been sidelined since March 12, will be re-evaluated next week, coach Brad Stevens told reporters today.

“He’s doing everything in a workout that you can do,” Stevens said. “It’s just a matter of being cleared for live play.” He added that the Celtics intend to use Smart as soon as he is cleared for full contact.

Smart has been going through workouts with coaches, but is not permitted to do anything competitive until he receives medical clearance. Doctors are concerned with limiting the risk that his thumb will be re-injured once he returns to the court.

“I think it’s just a matter of you have to have that post-surgery healed enough to be able to take a hit even with a brace on it,” Stevens added. “That’s the hold up.”

There’s more injury-related news to pass on:

  • The Warriors welcomed Stephen Curry back to practice today, but have no intention to use him in the series with San Antonio, relays Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s coming along well, but don’t expect him to be Willis Reed tomorrow,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Curry, who has sat out the past four weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, completed several non-contact drills today without any setbacks. Doctors will re-evaluate him next weekend in hopes of a second-round return.
  • Cavaliers guard George Hill is questionable for Game 4 after experiencing back spasms Friday night, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Hill had an MRI today after playing just 30 seconds in the fourth quarter because of back soreness. Coach Tyronn Lue said veteran Jose Calderon will probably start Sunday if Hill can’t play.
  • Evan Turner was able to start today for the Trail Blazers after having a titanium plate placed in his right shoe to protect his big toe, tweets Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Turner suffered a bruise in Game 2 when he was kicked in the toe while chasing a loose ball.

Injury Updates: Mitchell, Embiid, Turner, Lauvergne

Donovan Mitchell will be a game-time decision for the Jazz tonight, according to Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune. Mitchell, who stubbed a toe during the second half of the series opener with Oklahoma City, plans to go through warm-ups before deciding if he can play.

“If I’m limping or whatever, if I’m out there kinda trying to adjust and not playing right like my normal self, that will dictate it,” he said. “That was really my first time going at it since the game. … I’m waiting to see what I feel right before the game, so we’ll go from there.”

Mitchell, who is listed as questionable for tonight’s contest, was able to return to Sunday’s game after the injury, but has been limited at practice this week. He is Utah’s leading scorer at 20.5 points per game and posted 27 in the series opener.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • The Sixers are listing Joel Embiid as doubtful for Game 3, the team announced on Twitter. Coach Brett Brown said Embiid, who is recovering from March 31 facial surgery, was able to handle contact “quite well” in Tuesday’s practice, relays Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter link). “He did a little bit of contact,” Brown said. “Not much, but a little. Got up and down and scripted some plays. But really not much more than that.” Embiid will be evaluated again at tomorrow’s shootaround (Twitter link).
  • Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner is questionable for Game 3 after suffering a bruised toe last night against the Pelicans, reports Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Turner was kicked in his big toe during a scramble for a loose ball and was limping after the game. Jusuf Nurkic, who left Tuesday’s game with a leg bruise, is expected to be OK.
  • The Spurs are listing Joffrey Lauvergne as out for Game 3 because of “personal business,” with no explanation of what that involves, relays Cody McCrary of The San Antonio Express-News.
  • The Timberwolves will be without rookie center Justin Patton tonight because of a sore left foot, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Northwest Notes: Exum, Nuggets, Wolves, Turner

Point guard Dante Exum has played in just 72 games since his rookie year, having had to deal with injuries in each of the last three seasons. He’s healthy now, and playing regular backup minutes for the Jazz, but he’s on track for restricted free agency this summer, and one general manager tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that it may be worth rolling the dice on Exum despite his injury history.

“I think you have to look at him as a physically gifted guy who is only 22 (he turns 23 in July) and has already gone through the huge NBA learning curve,” the GM said. “There are guys in this year’s draft who will be 22 but aren’t going to have the kind of knowledge of the league he has, and don’t have the physical gifts.”

According to Deveney, one front office executive estimated that a two-year deal in the $18-20MM range might be enough to pry Exum away from the Jazz. That would be a steep price for a fourth-year player who has yet to deliver on the promise he showed heading into the 2014 draft, but overpaying a restricted free agent is often necessary to avoid having his old team match.

“He’s a gamble,” that same executive told Deveney. “But $10MM a year is not as big a gamble as it once was. He could show something here.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • With the G League’s regular season over, players on two-way contracts are no longer limited to 45 days of NBA service time. That’s good news for Nuggets two-way player Torrey Craig, who is free to travel with and play for the NBA squad, and hopes to make a strong impression down the stretch, per Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. “Just show them that I can be a consistent, impactful player on both ends of the court and just try to fit in wherever I can and play a role,” Craig said of his goals for the rest of the season.
  • The Nuggets had been hoping to get injured guard Gary Harris back on Friday, but he’s now doubtful for that game, and is aiming for a Sunday return, per head coach Mike Malone (Twitter link via Harrison Wind of BSNDenver.com).
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Jon Krawczynski examines Karl-Anthony Towns‘ future extension, Nemanja Bjelica‘s upcoming free agency, and more Timberwolves-related topics.
  • Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner was fined $10K for making an “inappropriate gesture” during Sunday’s game against Oklahoma City, the NBA announced in a press release.

Northwest Notes: Rose, Brewer, Turner, Faried

Appearing in his first game for the Timberwolves on Sunday, Derrick Rose played just seven minutes. While Rose says he’s not looking to “take someone’s spot” or step on anybody’s toes in Minnesota, he hopes to earn the opportunity to play a larger role down the stretch, as Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes.

“I want [Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau] to see me and be like, ‘Damn, he’s still got it,'” Rose said. “I want him to count on me. I want to be held accountable. You know what I mean? I don’t just want to be, like, an average guy on the team riding along just to see how far they go. I really want to add.”

The Rose signing drew some criticism from observers who felt that the Timberwolves didn’t need more depth at a point guard spot that already features Jeff Teague, Tyus Jones, and Aaron Brooks. However, Thibodeau and the Wolves’ guards believe that the team’s backcourt depth make sense in today’s NBA, where many teams play more than one point guard at a time, says Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Corey Brewer discussed his decision to sign with the Thunder, his expectations for the team, and several other topics. “I looked at my situation and considered if I’d have a chance to play, the pieces that were already in place on the team and whether I’d have a chance to compete in the playoffs,” Brewer said. “I felt like going to the Thunder would be the best situation for me because of those reasons and I get to play with old college coach Billy Donovan, who I have a great relationship with.”
  • In an interesting piece for NBC Sports Northwest, Jason Quick takes an in-depth look at Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner, who continues to grapple with how his $70MM contract has impacted fans’ expectations for – and perception of – him.
  • Despite his lack of playing time this season, Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried appears to be staying positive, per Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Faried, who has been the subject of trade rumors for multiple seasons, will be entering the final year of his contract this offseason, so it will be interesting to see if he’s still on Denver’s roster six months from now.