Evan Turner

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.

Northwest Notes: Trail Blazers, Baldwin, Dieng

The Trail Blazers have jumped out to a hot start this season thanks in large part to their formidable second unit. Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest writes that the club’s bench is becoming one of the league’s best.

The catalyst, Quick writes, has been Evan Turner, the 28-year-old second-year Trail Blazer who’s posted 13.3 points, 3.8 boards and 4.3 assists per game. Between Turner’s production, his ability to minimize turnovers and chip in with solid defense, he’s making an early case to be included in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation.

Other player who have looked solid off the bench for the Trail Blazers include Ed Davis and Pat Connaughton. This season, 28-year-old Davis has emerged as a voracious rebounder (18.8 per-36) and Connaughton has chipped in with 10.8 points per game, including two three-pointers made per contest at a 50% clip.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets strike Gina Mizell of the Denver Post as the ideal landing spot for disgruntled Suns guard Eric Bledsoe. While the team has expressed a willingness to let Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray play through their mistakes, it’s understandable that they may be intrigued to make a play for Bledsoe now that he’s definitely available.
  • Second-year guard Wade Baldwin signed a two-way contract with the Trail Blazers this week but the team’s official website has announced that the guard has undergone surgery and is expected to miss six weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb.
  • The Timberwolves will need to figure out just how Gorgui Dieng fits into their plans now that they’ve revamped their roster, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune writes. After playing 32.4 minutes per game last season, the 27-year-old advanced stat darling has seen just 13.8 through five games so far in 2017/18.

Trail Blazers Notes: Turner, Morrow, McCollum

If preseason is any indication thus far, the Trail Blazers may benefit more from Evan Turner‘s versatility this year, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes.. The point forward brought the ball up the court off the jump in the club’s first exhibition game of the year.

One of the things is to take advantage of his ball handling and make it a little less taxing for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum,” head coach Terry Stotts said. “That’s something we want to do better this year than we did last year.”

Turner was heralded for his versatility and ability to handle the ball coming out of Ohio State but has settled into a role as an NBA swingman. If he can get comfortable initiating the team’s offense as a playmaker, it frees the club’s star backcourt up to work off the ball.

When it comes down to it you got two sharpshooters,” Turner said. “When I have to run the offense I’m passing to two of the better shooters in the world. So, of course, it makes it a tad bit easier and opens things up.

There’s more Trail Blazers news: