Turner struggling to fit with Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics

Evan Turner is still trying to adjust to playing with the Pacers. (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)

When the Pacers added Evan Turner at the trade deadline to a roster that already had the best record in the NBA, it was mostly viewed as a solid move to boost the offense off the bench.

It was the rich getting just a little bit richer. It was architect Larry Bird not wanting to leave the slightest thing to chance, filling up a hole in the bench offense.

Now eight games into his move to Indiana, the Pacers are mired in a season-worst four-game losing streak and Turner’s impact has been minimal. In back-to-back losses at Houston and Dallas over the weekend, he scored a total of just seven points, had three assists and two rebounds in just over 40 minutes.

“It’s only been a few weeks, so we’re still early in the process,” said All-Star teammate Paul George. “I think as we all become more comfortable and he settles into his role, it’s a change that is going to be good for all of us. I think his style of play goes with with what we want to do.”

Having escaped the nightmare scenario with loss after loss at the bottom of the standings in Philadelphia, Turner is suddenly in the thick of the race for best record in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage all the way through the playoffs.

“It’s definitely the kind of situation you want to be in, playing real meaningful games late in the season,” Turner said. “It’s not like I’m coming in trying to change anything about my game or about this team. It’s about me keeping my eyes and ears open to learn about the culture here and trying to fit in.”

It’s that fit that’s going to be what decides whether Bird made a bold move to put the Pacers over the top as a true championship contender or tempted fate by upsetting the tight-knit chemistry that already existed in the locker room.

While the idea is for Turner to be the offensive weapon that had his dramatic ups and downs in Philly, there is the question of whether he needs the ball in his hands too much to be most effective and if his talent merely duplicates what the Pacers already had in Lance Stephenson.

“He’s a creator, just like me,” Stephenson said. “You can pretty much count on something always happening when we play together. I like having that potential explosiveness to our second group.

“He got plenty of moves, a lot of shake and bake in his package. It’s going to be fun.”

In the early going, Turner has been mostly used in Danny Granger’s old spot. We he’s played alongside Stephenson, it has not been all fun as opposing defenses have shown plenty willingness to sag off and give Turner the outside shots that he’s not particularly effective at making.

Even though the skills of the 30-year-old Granger were fading, his outside shot was still given more respect than Tuner and his 31.9 percent career shooting from behind the 3-point line.

The trade was made, at least in part, to eventually give the Pacers a hedge for the future when Stephenson becomes a free agent next summer. But it will only be judged by what it does to either solidify a bid to win it all or create new problems. When the playoffs begin, it’s likely that Turner’s opportunities to have the ball in his hands and make something happen will shrink. It will then be more about being a complementary part, not a role with which he’s ever been comfortable.

It may still be early in the adjustment period, but it already feels late.


  1. Bill says:

    Turner will be fine. Unless the Pacers figure out how to stop the pick and roll, they don’t need to worry about playing Miami. They won’t get that far. Their guards need to do abetter job of stopping the other team’s guards. They are getting killed on alley-oops because Hibbard is out of position trying to pick up an attacking guard or watching easy shots off the three point line because they are double teaming trying to stop the penetration in the lane. The pacers can’t practice against this because they don’t have a guard who can penetrate to the basket consistently.

  2. Ike_Wee_Knicks_Fan says:

    The Pacers have too many #2 guards and no back-up point, but they can trade Stephenson, Turner and Bynum in the off-season if they can’t stop Miami..

  3. Ike_Wee_Knicks_Fan says:

    Turner is not a point guard..

  4. okc2014 says:

    The jury is still deliberating on whether or not the Pacers made a good decision in getting rid of Granger for Turner…

  5. dustydreamnz says:

    It’s early days and like Gmo said, his numbers aren’t bad off the bench.

  6. Greg Avolio says:

    Evan Turner being pushed from the last place team in the 76ers to the conference leading Pacers may be pressure for Turner, but by the end of the reg. season he will know his role and the pressure mounted against him will rise with time.

    I still have the pacers losing to the Heat in 7 games in the ECF

  7. Gmo says:

    how is he struggling he’s averaging over 9 points coming off the bench of 45% shooting and 50% from 3 pointers

    • krishawn-MIA says:

      Well ppl expect more from the new player than what the old player gave, I knew this trade wouldn’t have been special because indiana neeeds a damn shooter not a ball handler and ball stopper idk why ppl went crazy over this trade

      • KittyKat76 says:

        THANK YOU INDIANA! WE picked up your “OLD MAN” who you just kicked to the curb for your “YOUTH” – good luck with that.. Turner WILL NOT help you guys beat MIAMI…it will be a battle but the way the Pacers have been playing – they might get kicked out early… the BULLS are on a mission! and dont sleep on Washington..(kidding).

        Granger fits well with us and after last night game… I am even more convinced of that…

  8. Cmon what did you expect from this trade??? That filling up a hole in the bench offense thought was 2 good 2 be true.

    Seems that Danny Granger is going to have the last laugh on this trade!

    • PhillFan4Life says:

      Yeah this was such a dumb trade on both parts but even more dumb for Indiana. I expect Philly to make dumb decisions, we’ve been doing that since Pat Croce left but for a team sitting on top of the league to trade and mess up their chemistry, I just don’t think it was that smart. Since my SIxers aren’t going to the chip this year I would like to see Pacers vs Thunder/Spurs. Any of those teams deserve to win.

      • Tyler says:

        Should have brought back Reggie Miller instead! I don’t care if he’s 48 (which is STILL pretty young!), in all seriousness imagine him surrounded by their lineup filling in the Ray Allen role a la Miami. That’s honestly a championship right there for the Pacers, he doesn’t need to defend anybody anyway, and you say you’re looking for a shooter, ….bring back the man that never won a ring, and I’m telling you it would carry them to the finish and be an ABSURDLY awesome moment. I know it sounds like crazy talk but he averaged 15 ppg at age 39…I still think he’d have enough in him for a final month of NBA basketball playing in short bursts! I know that shot hasn’t left him! You still look young Reggie! …..I really need to get out of fantasy land though!

      • Sixers Fan says:

        How was this a dumb trade for the Sixers? We got some sort of value on our expiring contracts, which were going to waste anyway.

        The Pacers shouldn’t have made this deal, they lost a lot more than what they received in return.