For the Celtics, Evan Turner is a low-risk, high-upside acquisition, a talented free agent who cost them little but could pay off nicely.
For Turner, the Celtics represent an opportunity for the former No. 2 overall pick to bounce back under a coach he knows well and alongside new teammates that he has known for years.
So it is that the sides joined up Monday after agreeing to a short-term pact, with league sources saying that the Celtics used part of their midlevel exception to add the 6-foot-7-inch versatile forward.
“Boston has always been at the very top of our list since the process began,” said Turner’s agent, David Falk. “Evan is very excited to play for [Celtics] coach [Brad] Stevens.”
Known as an all-around player, Turner, 25, averaged 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 54 games with the Philadelphia 76ers last season before being traded to the Indiana Pacers at the February trade deadline.
Then in 27 appearances with the Pacers, Turner averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists over 21.1 minutes per game.
Turner never received much playing time during his brief stint with the Pacers, who added him hoping to beef up their reserve unit heading into the playoffs.
However, Turner played just once — four total minutes — during the Eastern Conference finals, when Indiana lost to Miami in six games.
After that, the Pacers declined to extend Turner’s $8.7 million qualifying offer for next season, making him a free agent whose stock was nowhere near as high as it had been.
There’s no question that Turner is motivated to revitalize his career and return to his 76ers form of last season — and the Celtics hope the change of scenery and the sight of familiar faces will help. In Boston, Turner will join fellow Ohio State standout Jared Sullinger and swingman Jeff Green — all of whom share Falk as an agent and dined together last week, Falk said.
Turner will also be under Stevens, the former Butler head coach. The two faced off twice when Turner was at Ohio State, with the Buckeyes winning in 2008 and Butler winning the year before.
Stevens would surely hope to help maximize Turner’s talent in much the same way Stevens did with Jordan Crawford last season before the Celtics traded Crawford to Golden State.
With Turner, the Celtics will now have 18 players under contract, three more than the maximum total NBA teams are allowed during the regular season. Their payroll is also estimated to be more than $80 million, above the tax line.
Still, the Celtics do have three players with nonguaranteed deals in Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, and Keith Bogans. Their contracts total about $7 million, so there could be roster trimming in the near future.
Turner was the second overall pick in 2010 behind the Wizards’ John Wall. Turner can play shooting guard and small forward, but the Celtics also have a bit of a logjam at those positions, especially after drafting guards Marcus Smart and James Young and re-signing guard Avery Bradley to a four-year deal.
“We’re sure the roster is very full right now and at the end of the day it’s about competing and he’ll have the opportunity to do that,” Falk said.
When he played for the 76ers, Turner beat the Celtics with a last-second layup in January at TD Garden. It was one of the 76ers’ 15 wins last season.
In the end, the move is a sensible one but for Celtics fans it doesn’t exactly qualify as “fireworks,” the now-infamous term Celtics’ co-owner Wyc Grousbeck used when discussing potential moves entering this offseason.
In a recent interview with WEEI, Grousbeck, who was speaking before Monday’s acquisition of Turner, discussed the overall offseason in general terms.
“We had definitely hoped to try to make bigger moves this offseason, to be honest,” he said. “Having said that, it takes two partners to make a trade, so we focused on long term trying to build the club.
“We think we’re a better team now — positioned for the future, some new young talent and even more draft picks — but it’s been a patient summer so far, and I’m not always the most patient guy.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.