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How Evan Turner’s signing impacts Celtics

07.22.14 at 8:56 am ET
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Four years after NBA experts argued whether Evan Turner or John Wall deserved the No. 1 overall selection in 2010, some of those same folks are debating Turner’s value in relation to undrafted free agent Chris Johnson.

After all, the former No. 2 pick’s agreement with the C’s likely signals the end for Johnson and fellow non-guaranteed signees Chris Babb and Keith Bogans.

Terms of the deal have not been made public, but the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett reports Turner will earn a portion of the team’s mid-level exception. Upon cutting Johnson, Babb and Bogans, the Celtics would fall $5.1 million below the luxury tax, opening the 15th and final roster spot for the 25-year-old. The non-taxpayer mid-level exception for the 2014-15 season is $5.3 million.

Most likely, Turner’s deal will expire in the next two years, allowing him to improve his value before the NBA’s new TV deal sends the salary cap soaring in 2016.

The Ohio State product’s value has never been lower. He only netted Danny Granger‘s expiring contract for the 76ers in February and didn’t warrant an $8.7 million qualifying offer from the Pacers this summer. Acquired to bolster Indiana’s hopes of an NBA Finals run, Turner ultimately lost his bench role to the immortal Rasual Butler in the Eastern Conference finals. No player who earned as many minutes as Turner (2,457) had a worse PER last season (12.4), and his true shooting percentage has never eclipsed 50 percent.

Turner isn’t a complete bust. Compiling respectable career averages of 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists, he started for a Sixers squad that nearly took out the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2012. He’s averaged 14.4 points (50.6 TS%), 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 14 career games against the C’s.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens lists Ohio State coach Thad Matta among his biggest influences, and Matta molded Turner into the unanimous college player of the year. Likewise, Turner calls fellow Buckeye Jared Sullingerlike family,” so perhaps that familiarity combined with Rajon Rondo‘s playmaking could help Turner reach his potential.

If that’s the case, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have added another asset to his closet full of them. If not, the risk in signing Turner at short money for the short term is minimal. However, the signing does create even more of a logjam at the wing, where first-round draft pick James Young may be the odd man out in the D-League. Turner will have to battle both Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace for small forward minutes and both Avery Bradley and Marcus Thornton for playing time at shooting guard, so a career revival is no guarantee.

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