Evan Turner

Northwest Notes: Stephenson, Turner, Blazers

Newly acquired Timberwolves guard Lance Stephenson squared off against his former team Friday and Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had nothing but positive things to say about the 26-year-old journeyman, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

We had no problem whatsoever with him,” Gentry said regarding New Orleans’ decision to waive the then-15th man on their roster after a groin injury in November. “As a matter of fact, he probably raised our energy level as much as anyone. I think he’ll be fine. He’s playing for a great [Timberwolves] coach who loves energy and toughness and stuff like that.”

The Pelicans faced criticism at the time for parting ways with Stephenson as he recovered from the long-term injury but did so to free up space on their roster for Archie Goodwin (who has since been waived). Now Stephenson is back at full strength and on a 10-day contract looking to stick in Minnesota with a Timberwolves roster led by head coach Tom Thibodeau.

In two games with the Timberwolves so far, Stephenson has posted 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game. He’ll make $72K with Minnesota over the duration of his 10-day contract, in addition to the $1.2MM he’s owed by the Pelicans.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The news that Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner will miss 5-6 weeks comes just as the offseason acquisition was starting to find a rhythm in Portland, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Turner’s absence could thrust Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless into a bigger role defensively where Turner had been checking the opposing team’s most potent perimeter threat. In the same column, Richman also discusses the progress that Al-Farouq Aminu has made on the offensive end since being relegated to the bench.
  • With a 23-31 record, the Trail Blazers remain very much in the hunt for the final Western Conference playoff berth (Denver sits in the eight-seed at 24-29) but TNT analyst Kenny Smith is skeptical that they have enough resources. “I don’t think they have a lot of talent, honestly. I think that’s the problem,” Smith said. Molly Blue of The Oregonian relayed both Smith’s and Charles Barkley‘s reservations about the guard-heavy roster.
  • When budding Nuggets star Nikola Jokic dropped 40 points on the Knicks Friday, he became just the second Denver player to do so in Madison Square Garden, writes Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. The last? David Thompson in 1978,

Blazers’ Evan Turner Breaks Right Hand

9:46 PM: Turner is expected to miss 5-6 weeks and he will not require surgery, according to the team’s website.

8:14 AM: A challenging season for Evan Turner took another unfortunate turn on Tuesday, as the Trail Blazers swingman suffered a fracture in the third metacarpal of his right hand. The team confirmed the injury (via Twitter), though there’s no indication yet how much time Turner might miss.

Turner, 28, signed a massive four-year, $70MM contract with Portland in the offseason, but has gotten off to an underwhelming start with his new team. Turner’s averages in categories like PPG (9.7), RPG (3.8), APG (3.4), and FG% (.435) are down across the board, and as NBA.com’s advanced stats show, the Blazers been far more effective on offense without Turner on the court, with little change on defense.

While we wait for official word on Turner’s recovery timeline, it’s worth noting that injuries of this nature generally result in multi-week absences, so the Blazers will likely be without the veteran for the near future. During that time, players like Maurice Harkless and Allen Crabbe could be in line for increased roles.

Portland currently has a full roster of 15 guaranteed contracts, so if the team wants to add any reinforcements, a corresponding roster move would be required.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Nuggets, Turner, Murray

The Trail Blazers will probably wait until the offseason to start making trades to decrease salary, writes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Portland is looking at the highest payroll in the league next season and has gotten limited production in return, a half game out of the West’s final playoff spot entering tonight’s action. The Blazers have their own draft pick as well as Cleveland’s to offer, but Marks believes those will be more valuable in a possible June deal than they are now. Portland can also deal the contract of Festus Ezeli, who hasn’t played this season and has a $7.733MM salary for next year with just a $1MM guarantee through June 30. However, Marks warns that luxury tax concerns should make the team think twice about taking back any long-term deals.

There’s more news out of the Northwest Division:

  • History suggests that Nuggets GM Tim Connelly will be active at the trade deadline, Marks writes in the same piece. Since taking over in 2013, Connelly has been involved in five deadline deals, along with the trade of Timofey Mozgov to the Cavaliers in January of 2015. Marks also notes that Denver is $7.6MM below the cap floor and could be active on the waiver wire to try to reach that figure.
  • Former Blazer Nicolas Batum believes the team needs to be patient with Evan Turner, relays Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Turner has been going through a rocky transition since signing a four-year, $70MM deal over the summer. Batum, who was traded to the Hornets in 2015, says Turner gives Portland many of the same attributes that he used to. “He’s one of the best playmakers in this league,” Batum said. “I really appreciate his game. He showed that in Boston the last two years. He just needs time. This is a new team for him.”
  • Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson is teaching the position to Nuggets rookie Jamal Murray, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. “I don’t like to talk about too much of what’s going on in the locker room, but I just encourage him,” Nelson said. “I don’t know what it is to be his age [19] in the NBA. But I can just tell him or help him out with plays or certain situations. And he’s real receptive of it. He’s a great kid. That’s why I’m able to get through to him, because he’s such a great kid.”

Atlantic Notes: Turner, Wright, Raptors, Sixers

Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner credits Celtics coach Brad Stevens with turning his career around, relays Josue Pavon of WEEI.com. Turner, the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft, enjoyed limited NBA success before coming to Boston in 2014. He spent two years playing under Stevens before signing a four-year, $70MM deal with Portland. “He helped me figure out myself and a lot of guys in the locker room’s career, re-energized it,” Turner said of Stevens. “I just always thought he was a great, classy person. A sincere individual. Never thought he was too big and he does a lot of great things but I really appreciate the friendship I was able to form with him and get to know what type of guy he is. Very special person, special coach. It makes a lot of sense why he’s had so much success throughout his career because he’s a good individual and his mentality stuff has definitely helped me learn how to be a pro and how to see bigger picture, point of views.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors point guard Delon Wright is active for the first time this season, according to a tweet from the team. He had surgery in August to fix a labral tear in his right shoulder. Wright was the 20th pick in the 2015 draft, but got into just 27 games with Toronto last season, spending most of the year in the D-League.
  • With Wright and power forward Jared Sullinger both back on the court, the Raptors are almost completely healthy for the first time this season, notes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto SunPatrick Patterson and Lucas Nogueira were both able to participate in today’s practice and should be able to play soon. Patterson has missed nine of the last 11 games with a sore knee. Nogueira went through the league’s concussion protocol after being hit in the face Tuesday.
  • The Sixers‘ recent success comes from having a roster of players who are trying to prove they belong in the league, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer“We all have that similar story,” Nik Stauskas said. “We all have something to prove. We all have the same goal. That kind of makes coming together a little bit easier.”

Blazers Rumors: Stotts, Ezeli, McCollum, Turner

The Trail Blazers are just a single game out of the playoffs in the Western Conference, but with a 15-21 record, it has been an extremely disappointing season so far in Portland. Still, the organization isn’t panicking at this point, as there’s a belief that the team will work its way back into the postseason picture, writes Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. According to Haynes, Terry Stotts‘ job as the team’s head coach isn’t currently in jeopardy.

In a lengthy and interesting piece, Haynes provides several other notable Blazers-related tidbits, so let’s round up some of the highlights…

  • The Blazers went into free agency aiming to retain their own key free agents, as well as adding another ball-handler and a rim-protecting big man. The club targeted players like Hassan Whiteside, Joakim Noah, and Dwight Howard, but came up short. According to Haynes, Portland was ready to renounce a player – perhaps Meyers Leonard – in order to free up cap room to sign Pau Gasol, but the free agent center opted to sign with San Antonio instead.
  • Ultimately, the Blazers landed Festus Ezeli on a two-year, $15MM deal, but Ezeli may end up not playing a single game for the team, as he’s expected to undergo season-ending surgery. According to Haynes, Ezeli gave a “stern” locker-room speech after a tough loss last month — when the big man launched into a similar speech a couple games later, he was cut short by C.J. McCollum. As Haynes puts it, “being lectured by someone who wasn’t even playing wasn’t received favorably” by other Blazers players.
  • Potential trade targets like DeMarcus Cousins and Nerlens Noel aren’t currently on the Blazers’ radar, sources tell Haynes. Cousins likely isn’t available anyway, and Noel is eligible for restricted free agency, so Portland may be turned off by his contract situation.
  • The Blazers are open to making a trade, but don’t feel obligated to make a move. According to Haynes, the team isn’t looking to trade McCollum or Evan Turner.
  • Team owner Paul Allen was insistent on retaining Portland’s own assets during the offseason, and as such, the team “never thought twice” about matching Allen Crabbe‘s offer sheet from the Nets, per Haynes.
  • Be sure to check out Haynes’ full piece for more on the Blazers.

Northwest Notes: Turner, Blazers, Lauvergne, Payne

Evan Turner says it’s nice to know he’s missed in Boston, even as he struggles to find a role in Portland, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Turner accepted a four-year, $70MM deal this summer to head to the Pacific Northwest. However, the Trail Blazers haven’t used him as a primary ballhandler the way the Celtics did, and he has found it hard to adjust to a backcourt rotation with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum“I was most definitely comfortable there [in Boston],” Turner said. “There were certain situations where there were coaches that didn’t really sort of comprehend my game, and sometimes I wasn’t always in position to be comfortable or successful. So when you finally find that mixture of great basketball and off the court and things like that, you definitely don’t take it for granted.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Blazers haven’t shown significant improvement so far despite raising their payroll from $62MM to $112MM, contends Bobby Marks of The Vertical. Portland will have a hard time shaking things up until at least December 15th when the trade restrictions expire for Turner and Festus Ezeli. Restrictions for Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless will remain in effect until January 15th. Crabbe cannot be traded without his approval for a year because the Blazers matched an offer sheet from Brooklyn.
  • Offseason addition Joffrey Lauvergne is taking away minutes from Enes Kanter in Oklahoma City, notes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Lauvergne, acquired in an August trade with the Nuggets, has impressed the Thunder with a combination of defense and long-range shooting. “A lot of it’s going to be based on matchups, how the game’s going, who’s alongside of him, do we have the speed and quickness in the frontcourt,” OKC coach Billy Donovan said when asked about Kanter’s playing time. “That’s not to say the last couple of games with Enes, with his minutes, he’s not going to play more because I do think he and Steven [Adams] together is a good combination for us.”
  • Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne‘s option wasn’t picked up last month, but his role with the team is growing, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Payne got a chance to show what he could do after Shabazz Muhammad was sidelined with a sore knee. “Being patient is part of the NBA, being ready,” Payne said. “You just have to continue to work. Just going through this has been tough. It can break a lot of people. You just have to stay positive and continue to work.”

Northwest Notes: Oladipo, Ibaka, Jokic, Turner

Victor Oladipo has no regrets about the trade that sent him from Orlando to Oklahoma City, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Oladipo, who will face his former team for the first time tonight, not only landed with a contender, but he signed a four-year, $84MM extension last month. He is off to a good start in OKC, averaging 16.2 points per game and shooting 42% from 3-point range. “I was a little shocked at first,” Oladipo said of hearing about the deal. “But after it all soaked in, I was excited and looking forward to the opportunity. I’m glad where I am. Sometimes change is good.”

  • Serge Ibaka, who went to the Magic in the Oladipo deal, is looking forward to tonight’s return to Oklahoma City, relays John Denton of NBA.com. Ibaka spent seven years in OKC and helped the Thunder become one of the top teams in the Western Conference. He offered thanks to the fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena. “They gave me a lot of confidence,’’ Ibaka said. “Great things always have tough beginnings. It never starts great [and goes] to great. Big things come from small beginnings, so I have a lot of appreciation for those fans because my first year nobody knew who I was. But they gave me that trust and that’s one of the things I’m always going to appreciate them for.’’
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone credits Nikola Jokic for being willing to accept a reserve role to help make the team better, according to Harrison Wind of BSNDenver. Malone tried juggling his lineup as Denver fell to 3-6 Saturday, starting Kenneth Faried and moving Jokic to the bench. “Nikola Jokic is probably the most selfless player on our team,” Malone said. “He’s a guy that even came to me, says ‘Coach I don’t want to start anymore. I just want to win.’ He’s one of the few guys on our team, that if I can pull him out of the starting lineup, he’s not going to be upset and pout. And I give him a lot of credit and respect for that.”
  • Evan Turner is feeling the frustration of his slow start in Portland, relays Jason Quick of CSNNW. The Trail Blazers gave Turner a four-year, $70MM deal this summer to add backcourt depth and another ballhandler. However, he is playing less than 24 minutes per game and averaging 6.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per night. He has 20 turnovers to go with 24 assists and appears bothered by his lack of playing time. “What can you possibly do?’’ Turner asked after Friday’s game. “When you get three shots and play 27 minutes … that’s not a knock, because we have the best guards in the league, but I mean, what can I possibly do besides be accountable to defense, take care of the ball, rebound, and play the floor? Where I just came from, I had the ball in my hands tons of times to make plays.’’

Eastern Notes: Turner, Ferrell, Wade

The Celtics have struggled to begin the 2016/17 campaign, and one reason given by point guard Isaiah Thomas is the absence of swingman Evan Turner, who signed with Portland as a free agent this offseason, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald relays.

The wing position is a very important position in this league, and if you’re missing that, then it’s going to be tough for you,” Thomas said after Thursday’s practice. “Especially we don’t have Evan Turner, so it’s like, we’re not just missing Jae Crowder [who is injured], we’re missing Evan, who was a big part of what we’ve done. Now we’ve got a rookie [Jaylen Brown] in his place that things are coming fast for him, so he’s trying to figure out on the fly, as well, and, at the same time, play at a high level. So it’s tough, but we’ve got to just sustain or whatever we need to while Jae’s out, help rook at the things he needs to get better at and go from there. But all the things that we’re getting beat at are not because certain guys are out. It’s because we’re not playing with our heart. We’re not giving it our all for whatever reason.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Yogi Ferrell‘s minimum salary deal with the Nets will run two years, with the second season being a team option, NetsDaily relays (via Twitter). The point guard is also on Brooklyn’s books for $100K from the first time he was waived by the team.
  • Heat president Pat Riley says he has reached out to former player Dwyane Wade via e-mail, which is the first contact the executive has attempted with the shooting guard since Wade’s departure over the summer, Dave Hyde of The Sun Sentinel writes. “I hope he got it,” Riley said regarding his message. “You know those guys changing phone numbers and e-mails …” Riley also noted that the lack of offseason contact between the pair is nothing new, Hyde adds. “He’d get three letters from me,” Riley said. “One asked if his a– was in shape, one said to get his a– in shape and one said he’d better be in shape.
  • The solid play of the Hornets‘ reserves is a major reason for the team’s hot start to the season, as Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer notes. The scribe also points to the team’s acquisition of Marco Belinelli from the Kings in exchange for the No. 22 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft as a move that is paying early dividends for Charlotte.

Northeast Notes: Harkless, Nurkic, Jokic, Sabonis

Maurice Harkless has played well enough this preseason to claim the Trail Blazers‘ starting small forward slot, contends Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. The 23-year-old Harkless re-signed with Portland this summer for four years at $40MM, but faces competition for the starter’s job from the re-signed Allen Crabbe and free agent addition Evan Turner. Coach Terry Stotts hasn’t named a starter yet, but Freeman believes Harkless’ defensive abilities and his chemistry with the other starters makes him the best choice. “Moe … just makes us versatile,” said Damian Lillard. “Being able to rebound the ball and push it, knock down threes, he can guard a bunch of positions, he changes the game in a different way.”

There’s more tonight out of the Northwest Division:

  • While the rest of the league is getting smaller, the Nuggets may start two 7-footers on opening night, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver PostJusuf Nurkic appears to have played well enough in preseason to earn the starting center job, with Nikola Jokic sliding over to power forward and Kenneth Faried moving to the bench. “It definitely is a herd mentality type of league,” said coach Michael Malone. “We’ve started two bigs together in (three) of our preseason games. We think that they can play well together because they are so skilled.”
  • The Jazz may need time to adjust to roster changes and the return of Dante Exum from injury, warns Dustin Jensen of The Deseret News. Utah traded for George Hill and Boris Diaw, signed free agent Joe Johnson and welcomed back Dante Exum after a year away with a torn ACL. Add in the emergence of second-year forward Trey Lyles and the Jazz may need time to develop chemistry.
  • Foul trouble is hampering rookie Domantas Sabonis as he bids for a starting job with the Thunder, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. Sabonis has started every preseason game for Oklahoma City, but is averaging 3.3 personal fouls per night. Coach Billy Donovan is confident that Sabonis will learn to adjust. “When you’re a guard, you’re pretty much guarding the ball,” Donovan said. “But when you’re behind the (perimeter) defense and the floor starts moving and guys start shifting, you got to be able to pick up those movements and figure out what’s getting ready to happen.”

Western Notes: Harris, Turner, Ford, Ulis

Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris, who is making his way back from a groin strain he suffered during the team’s first preseason game, has resumed light basketball activities, which is good news for Denver, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “That was the most I’ve done in a while,” Harris said. “Really haven’t tried anything [until today]. Just tried to be cautious with it, make sure everything is cool. Don’t want to re-aggravate it and make sure I’m feeling nothing when I’m doing things. Right there I felt fine, didn’t feel anything. So as long as we keep doing that, don’t want to push it too much.

Head coach Michael Malone noted that Harris could be ready for the season opener, a date the guard wouldn’t commit to just yet, Dempsey notes. “I’m just going day by day, just trying to get better each day,” Harris said. “That’s two weeks down the road: We’ll see. I’m just trying to get better each day.”

Here’s more from out West:

  • Evan Turner‘s new $70MM contract with the Trail Blazers spans four years, so he’ll have plenty of time to make sure the team gets its money’s worth. For now though, as Jason Quick of CSNNW.com writes, Turner is “still finding his way” with his new club, in the words of head coach Terry Stotts.
  • Quincy Ford, who was waived by the Jazz on Thursday, will join the team’s D-League squad as an affiliate player, Chris Reichert of Upside and Motor reports (via Twitter).
  • The Pelicans have officially confirmed via pres release that Anthony Davis will miss 10-14 days due to a sprained right ankle. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated first reported the injury.
  • Suns rookie point guard Tyler Ulis has been receiving extensive preseason minutes as the team wants to get him as much experience as possible, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “It’s perfect for me,” Ulis said of averaging 17 minutes in four preseason games with two preseason games to go. “I know I’m getting valuable minutes right now. They want to see what I can do. I’m learning more and more. [Coach] Earl [Watson] is teaching me which spots to go at. This is fun. It’s a process. I’m happy to learn and it’s better to learn in a game than watching.”

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

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