Three months of spotty production later, even Turner doesn’t seem sure what his future—beginning with this summer’s free-agency period—might hold. From an interview with the Indianapolis Star’s Candace Buckner:
I really don't know because I'm not a GM. But at the same time, I think the NBA is kind of a hot streak, obviously. They remember what you did last year, last game and everything like that. Clearly, you're judged on, like, your last game, the last couple of months then it probably wasn't ideal for me in regards to (the) contract but at the same time, I think it's known that I can play basketball and everything will work itself out.
Turner’s qualifying offer stands at $8.7 million—not exorbitant, by any means, but certainly not the kind of tender that just any team will wantonly match. Should the Pacers not extend that offer, however, Turner would be a free agent come June 30.
Whether or not the Pacers opt to match any theoretical offer will largely depend on what kind of love is levied at Lance Stephenson, Indiana’s polarizing fourth-year shooting guard who became a household name after repeatedly goading LeBron James with strange antics during the Eastern Conference Finals.
If a rival team comes at Stephenson with a Godfather offer, it might compel Turner and the Pacers to hash out something modest and acceptable to both parties.
If, however, Stephenson is indeed a big piece of Indiana’s future, it seems highly unlikely—nay impossible—that Turner will be brought back.
Plus there’s the whole thing about the two having maybe possibly gotten into a fistfight a few months back. And, well, yeah...that’s not exactly good for morale, you know?
Indeed, you couldn’t help but think of the alleged incident when reading this offering from Turner’s Star interview:
I think the biggest thing was just chemistry. Trying to get chemistry right with my teammates. Towards the end of the season, practice time is cut. We had a crazy schedule at the end. Obviously, I think it would have been more advantageous had I been here at the beginning of the year as opposed to at the end. So it is a little difficult.
If you’re the Pacers, an improved, keyed-in and—most crucial of all—poised and composed Stephenson is exactly what you need. Otherwise, as Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin underscores, you’re not exactly flush with alternatives:
But if Stephenson walks, then who will the Pacers count on to create shots? The limitations of George Hill and Roy Hibbert to create their own looks will be all that more glaring. For all his erratic play, Stephenson makes plays, set up passes and he is aggressive… most of the time. In Game 6 against the Heat he was very aggressive up until he got the technical on Norris Cole, then Stephenson largely disappeared.
I think the Pacers could use a more traditional point guard (I wasn’t in that camp until recently), someone who can be a floor general and set up Hibbert better in the post, or create shots for others off the bounce. They need a calming influence.
He may not be a point guard per se, but Turner certainly fits the “calming influence” description. You’d be sacrificing quite a bit on the defensive end, but if Indiana remains as concerned as it’s historically been with not treading too far into luxury-tax territory, then Turner may well prove a prudent—if not ideal—alternative to the sordid circus that is Stephenson.