Former Celtics guard Evan Turner is finalizing a deal to become an assistant coach with the team, a league source confirmed. He will replace Kara Lawson, who left the Celtics over the summer to become head coach of the Duke women’s basketball team.
Turner, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2010 draft by Philadelphia, played for the Celtics from 2014-16, averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game while helping with the early stages of the Celtics’ climb toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
Turner signed a four-year, $70 million deal with the Blazers in 2016 but started just 54 games over three seasons before being traded to the Hawks prior to last season.
Although Turner’s stay in Boston was brief, he emerged as a favorite of the fans, as well as coach Brad Stevens, because of his team-first approach that was mixed in with his lovable wit.
When Turner was with the Blazers in November 2018, he made a prescient joke about returning to Boston to help Stevens win his first championship. He said it might be in a front-office role, or maybe as a bench player. Now, it appears, it will be as a coach.
“So I think, obviously, [Stevens] is probably just trying to figure out a way to get me back and go get that championship,” Turner said then.
Turner does have some minor coaching experience. In the summer of 2019, he was an assistant for a team of former Ohio State players that won The Basketball Tournament and its $2 million prize. Turner said last year that he even stole one of Stevens’s signature plays to run.
“Brad’s made it to the Final Four a couple times [at Butler], and the only championship [I was in], I won,” Turner quipped last year. “These skills got us to the ’ship and got us the big money.
“Obviously Brad is one of the coaches I always have respect for. Even after certain games he hit me up with Carmen’s Crew in the TBT thing and he would congratulate us on how we did. For sure he’s always tuned in. It was cool.”
The Celtics exhibition against the 76ers on Dec. 15 will be televised on TNT. The game is at 7:30 p.m. The Celtics’ second and final exhibition, Dec. 18 vs. the Nets, will be on ESPN2 at 8 p.m.