Inside the Sixers: Turner's playing well, but his departure still likely

Evan Turner is having his best season, which could increase his trade value. "Somebody is going to get a gem,"he said.
Evan Turner is having his best season, which could increase his trade value. "Somebody is going to get a gem,"he said.
Posted: November 11, 2013

CLEVELAND - It sounds like an obvious question. Or maybe it's that the answer seems obvious. There's no way that the 76ers will re-sign Evan Turner, right?

I know. You don't let a franchise player walk away. You get the deal done. But keep in mind that, despite the Sixers' hot start, general manager Sam Hinkie and the organization are building for the future.

But is it really a foregone conclusion that they'll send Turner away right before the Feb. 20 trade deadline or let him walk at the end of the season?

It's best for both parties if they split. The 6-foot-7 swingman can go somewhere else and get a fresh start. The Sixers, meanwhile, would be able to bring in a young talent to grow alongside Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel. That's not a slight against Turner. But 99 percent of us can agree that the Sixers' best formula to succeed is to further blow up the roster and build through free agency and the draft.

No one knows that more than Hinkie.

One has to assume that's why he did not offer Turner an extension past this season. The league-mandated deadline for such a deal was Oct. 31.

But what if he continues to excel this season, is a top-10 player in scoring and field-goal percentage, and the Sixers look foolish for not signing him to an extension? Would I still think both sides should split?

Yes.

Turner needs to go somewhere where he's not reminded daily of the expectations of being the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. The fourth-year veteran needs to go to a place where he doesn't have to be the savior. Turner would fit in nicely as an aggressive addition on a team determined to make a postseason run.

So far, the 25-year-old is proving that he's capable of fulfilling that role. He's also showing that the Sixers might be able to snatch a late-first-round draft pick for him in a trade.

Turner ranked 15th in the league in scoring (22.2 points per game) and 20th in field-goal percentage (55.2) heading into Saturday's game at Cleveland. He has scored 20 or more points in five of the first six games.

The Ohio State product is on pace for a memorable season, assuming he remains a Sixer for all of it. The franchise hasn't had a player average more than 17.7 points since 2008-09. The Sixers haven't had a player average 20 or more points since Allen Iverson in 2005-06.

That would be a huge accomplishment for someone who averaged 10.1 points over his first three seasons. His best individual campaign came last season, when he averaged a career-best 13.3 points and was the only Sixer to start all 82 games.

"I'm just playing, period," said Turner, who averaged 7.2 points as a rookie and 9.4 during his second year. "I'm playing hard. I worked on my game, and I'm glad that it's translating and I'm playing with confidence.

"I knew obviously that I was going to keep getting better and better. That's pretty much it. A lot of people doubted me. But I know what's inside me."

In addition to hard work, the coaching change has benefited his game.

New coach Brett Brown gives Turner the green light and always encourages him to stay aggressive. The former college national player of the year didn't always see eye to eye with former coach Doug Collins.

But let's be honest. The Sixers want the other 29 teams to notice Turner's performance. The goal is for teams to realize he's a talented player. That's probably the main reason he's receiving the green light.

So with each 20-point performance, his trade value continues to grow. He knows that.

"Whatever, man," Turner said of possibly being traded. "I'm going to keep getting better. Somebody is going to get a gem. You know what I'm saying?"


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

inquirer.com/deepsixer

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