Zach Lowe of ESPN published his weekly “10 Things I Like and Don’t Like” column today, and Portland Trail Blazers wing Evan Turner made the list, just not necessarily in a way he’d like. Lowe says of Turner:
Evan Turner, the third-highest-paid player on an expensive roster, has been left behind. He's shooting 39 percent, and just 8-of-39 from deep. He has logged 20 or fewer minutes in five of Portland's last eight games, even with Al-Farouq Aminu injured (until returning Thursday) and Maurice Harkless benched.
Pat Connaughton, cutter extraordinaire, is starting, and Shabazz Napier has eaten into Turner's time. Save for a two-month stretch at the end of last season, Turner has struggled to find a consistent fit next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Defenders stray far from him off the ball, cluttering up driving lanes. Turner is a cagey ball handler -- and a solid defender -- but not dangerous enough to justify siphoning much of the offense away from the stars, one of whom is always on the floor.
He has never really looked comfortable for any extended period. Portland is winning anyway, so maybe it doesn't matter unless you worry about Paul Allen's financial health. But big, problematic contracts carry other costs -- especially for teams up against the tax. Dumping money to duck the tax can cost valuable future assets -- including draft picks.
Lowe may be under-selling the opportunity cost of having a player who doesn’t fit occupying a high-rotation spot on the roster. Not just future draft picks are at stake. The 82-game NBA season has a way of exposing flaws over time; playoff opponents zero in on nothing but. Nevertheless, Turner has logged impressive games against the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies, among others. But he hasn’t been $17 million per year impressive and his contract continues through 2020.
Are you disappointed with Turner’s fit or do you see this as a non-issue? Is Turner actively hurting his team or does he reside in the, “Not really helping, but no big deal” category?