Boston Celtics: Is Evan Turner's 2-Year Contract a Mistake?

Mark Vandeusen@@lucidsportsfanContributor IIIOctober 2, 2014

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It was back in July that free agent Evan Turner agreed to sign with the Boston Celtics. However, the terms of the deal were not made official until earlier this week.  

As reported by ESPN's Marc Stein, Turner will be paid a total of $6.7 million guaranteed over the next two seasons. Without debating the merits of Turner as a player, there's a distinct possibility the Celtics may regret his contract come next summer.

Boston finished 25-57 last year, and with a largely similar roster, the club's prospects for the upcoming season aren't much better. In 2014-15, the Celtics' focus will likely be on developing young talent and building for the future. In addition to numerous extra draft picks the franchise has acquired for the years ahead, Boston is also in line to possess an abundance of salary-cap room before 2015-16.

Turner was the only new free agent the Celtics brought in this offseason, and there's a chance the second year of his contract may hinder their ability to add a star player next year.

At the moment, Boston is on the books for roughly $35.7 million in guaranteed salary for 2015-16, via spotrac.com. Impending free agent Rajon Rondo is not included in that total. 

Sep 29, 2014; Waltham, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) during media day at the Celtics practice facility. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Rondo said at the Celtics' training camp media day that he believes he is worthy of a max contract. Brian Robb of Boston.com estimates that in Rondo's case, this would be a salary of $18.7 million in 2015-16 were he to stay with the Celtics. Should Boston keep the All-Star point guard at that price, it would bring the team's payroll up to $54.4 million.

According to NBA salary-cap guru Larry Coon, the league's cap is expected to be $66.5 million for 2015-16. If the Celtics retain Rondo, they would have about $12.1 million left to spend elsewhere. But if Turner's $3.4 million is taken out of the equation, that amount jumps up to $15.5 million—the difference between signing an attractive free agent like Paul Millsap or a less enticing name like Andrea Bargnani.

If Boston doesn't re-sign Rondo, it might have $30.8 million available under the cap, but the odds of luring a pair of quality free agents to town would be a lot greater with $34.2 million minus Turner.

Obviously, many things may change over the course of the season. The chances are the Celtics will want to pick up team options on Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller for 2015-16, which would add about seven million to their salary-cap total. There's also the possibility that Jeff Green could decline his player option for $9.2 million in the hopes of getting more money elsewhere.

But in the case of Turner, even though it's a relatively small dollar amount, his two-year deal appears counterproductive given the state of rebuilding Boston is in. The No. 2 overall pick from the 2010 draft has failed to live up to expectations so far in his career. Via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, Turner recently said:

There's a hundred ways you can attack the topic of me and how my career's gone. The one thing I say is I'm getting better every year. When you mention my name, you either say No. 2 pick before or after my name. So a lot comes with that as well. I'm over those past four years and I'm just worried about each day now.

If the Celtics truly believe in Turner and feel as though he might be a part of their future, they should have inked him to a long-term contract. And if they don't, why even bother to sign him at all?   


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