Evan Turner Is Not Worth the Asking Price on 2014 NBA Trade Market

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2014

As badly as the Philadelphia 76ers need a shakeup and Evan Turner craves a change of scenery, neither is likely get to their wish before the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

Not unless the Sixers back off from a price tag that sits somewhere between steep and preposterous.

Either dreaming or simply delusional, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that they "continue to hold out hope that they can acquire a future first-round pick" in exchange for Turner. Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling said Turner "will not likely get traded" unless a first-round pick enters the discussion.

Where that pick will come from is anyone's guess. 

USA Today's Sam Amick mentioned the Charlotte Bobcats and San Antonio Spurs as potential suitors. Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio said the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks have all shown interest.

On the surface, that's an awful lot of Turner admiration. Then again, Philly's price tag hasn't been hard to find. If there was a first-rounder out there to be had, Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie would have added it to his rebuilding collection already:

This isn't a trade market so much as it's a group of shopping vultures working with an insider's tip. There's interest in Philly's parts, but only at the discount rates that appear in full-on fire sales.

Despite narrowly missing the record books after losing their last two games by a combined 88 points, the Sixers haven't armed their pricing guns with clearance stickers just yet. It could just be posturing or they might really be willing keep this unsightly puzzle intact rather than unloading pieces for pennies on the dollar.

Either way it's left Turner grossly overvalued and unlikely to need a change of address form before the summer.

The 25-year-old's traditional stats show a player that, in most seasons, could net a first-round selection on the open market: 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Only three players are clearing all three of those marks and all of them could bring a king's ransom in return: Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love.

If Turner's remotely in the same neighborhood—statistically speaking, at least—as those three All-Stars, why does a first-round pick seem like such an unreasonable price?

Well, his stats are a bit deceptive.

He's not a particularly efficient scorer (.431/.287/.831 shooting slash, 13.3 player efficiency rating). His overall activity on the glass has dropped (career-low 9.0 total rebound percentage). His assist percentage (17.5) is down from last season (19.7). His turnover percentage has climbed to a new career high (14.5).

He's still headed for a career campaign, but he's lost some luster with each passing month.

There's a good chance he never planned on still being with this franchise at this point, but there's perhaps an even better one that he's tied Philly's hands with his diminishing returns on the stat sheet.

Heading the Wrong Direction: Turner's Monthly Declines

While the downsizing NBA is on the constant search for new ways to space the floor, Turner's the type of player who shrinks the hardwood. He's hit just 31.5 percent of his three-point attempts for his career and has yet to average one made triple a night (career-high 0.7 this season and last).

It's not simply a matter of settling for forced threes. Of his 129 three-point attempts this season, 59 have come from the short corners (45.7 percent). The problem is, he doesn't fare much better on these high-percentage looks (32.2 percent) than he does on above-the-break threes (26.1).

His 50.7 true shooting percentage, which weights free throws and threes in its calculation, is a personal best. It's also tied for 215th among players seeing at least 15 minutes per game, leaving him slotted alongside E'Twaun Moorewho struggles to find minutes on a bad Orlando Magic teamJeff Teaguewho's having his worst shooting season since his rookie yearand Beno Udrihwho cannot even find a spot in the New York Knicks' rotation.

Enough said.

While Turner has played primarily at the small forward spot, he's also seen 20 percent of the Sixers' total shooting guard minutes according to 82games.com.

Not only does that make him the unenviable shooting guard who can't shoot, it's also exposed some of his defensive limitations. While opponents have managed just a 13.8 PER against him while he's playing the 3, that number has spiked to 15.2 when he's slid over to the 2 spot.

He's a wing who can't shoot, a playmaker having more turnover troubles than ever and a defender having a hard time defending. It doesn't exactly sound like a superstar recipe, does it?

It gets worse.

He would never be confused for something resembling a winner. Even on the success-starved Sixers, he's more harm than help. He's producing just .025 win shares—an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player—per 48 minutes.

That's well below the league average of .100 and good for 10th-highest on this tanking youthful team.

He's also managed to feel a tremendous weight on his shoulders that may not even exist. When Las Vegas oddsmakers set Philly's over-under win total at 16.5, that pretty well released everythingtension, expectations, pressure to performthis locker room might have held.

Still, Turner sounds like a player crumbling under a championship-or-bust burden.

"I’m having a career year [in 2013-14] and people are still complaining," Turner told reporters (via Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe). "I don’t pay attention to it anymore. I know I can play basketball."

Philly fans had written off this season long ago. I'm not sure anyone's even paying enough attention to complain at this point.

Where Turner could feel some of that heat is if he's thrust in the middle of a playoff pursuit. If he catches on with a championship-hopeful club, he'll be expected to make a championship-caliber contribution.

Even though the stat sheet says he doesn't have the game to do so. Nor do teams have the motivation to put him in that spot.

At the least, Turner is headed for restricted free agency at season's end. If the Sixers pass on extending him an $8.7 million qualifying offer, he'll become an unrestricted free agent available to the highest bidder.

If teams really want him, they can bring him on board this offseason with no strings attached. Having knowledge of that possibility will make it incredibly difficult to part with a future asset just to bring him in a few months early.

"It wouldn’t be smart to give up assets for a player you think you can just sign on your own in July,” one general manager told Sporting News' Sean Deveney. “If you don’t need to trade anything away to get him, then why would you?"

Exactly. You wouldn't. And teams won't.

Not as long as his price continues boggling the mind, at least.

Turner's a nice complementary piece. With so many potential difference-making pieces littering the 2014 NBA draft board, teams will rightfully decline paying a first-class premium for an economy rental.


Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.


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