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Knicks Expected to Pursue Turner This Summer
Monday, March 21
"I've been told that [Knicks president] Phil Jackson is a big fan of Evan Turner," Mannix said on Celtics Pregame Live (via CSNNE.com). "The Knicks will have money to spend. They need a combo guard who can handle the ball. I expect New York to make a run at Evan Turner."
Turner’s improved play coupled with the drastic increase in the salary cap to nearly $90 million next season should yield the former No. 2 overall pick a substantial pay raise from the $3.425 million he’s earning in 2015-16, per Spotrac.
Zach Harper of CBS Sports speculated Turner would net somewhere in the range of $15 million per year.
For the average of 27.4 minutes per game he’s contributing, Turner is producing a respectable 10.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while connecting on 44.8 percent of his shots.
Part of the reason why he’s found more success since signing with Boston two years ago is the diminished expectations on him. When he came out of Ohio State as the consensus National Player of the Year in 2010, he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the hopes he’d revitalize the franchise.
But after three-plus underachieving seasons, he was dealt to the Indiana Pacers and eventually signed with Boston at an affordable $7 million over two seasons, making him the lowest-paid Celtic not under a rookie contract, per Spotrac.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has been satisfied with the investment and said he's like to re-sign Turner.
“As you know I’m a fan of Evan and I think he’s had a really good year,” Ainge said earlier this month, per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “I think he’s had a good two years [with the Celtics]. He won a lot of games for us. Down the stretch of games, he’s a good guy to have on your team, he’s a versatile player. He plays multiple positions. ... Yes [we'd like to re-sign him]. We’re big fans of Evan. I think Evan likes us and we like him.”
Of course, Ainge must determine if he’s willing to do so at a rate expected to be significantly higher.
Turner has thrived under head coach Brad Stevens, and the Celtics are likely headed back to the playoffs for the second straight year, currently at 40-30 and in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
But the big missing piece in Beantown is a star leader. If the Celtics pursue such a player this summer, it may be difficult to also re-sign Turner—even with a salary-cap increase.
As a tall and slender swingman (6'7", 220 lbs), he’d fit swimmingly into the triangle offense Jackson is hoping to reinvigorate in New York.
The Knicks will have the financial flexibility this offseason and are expected to be aggressive. Carmelo Anthony has publicly called on Jackson and the rest of the front office to do as much, per ESPN.com's Ian Begley.
Turner has expressed a desire to remain in Boston, per Washburn, but so often in free agency, it’s the money that does the true talking.