Despite sitting atop the Eastern Conference with a 41-13 record, the Indiana Pacers weren’t content with just sitting on their hands before Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline. Team president Larry Bird and his front office engineered a trade that sent forward Danny Granger and a future second-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen—Turner being the prize piece that will certainly give the Pacers additional offensive firepower.
Turner, who is in the final season of a four-year deal that will pay him $6.7 million, is doing exactly what most players do in their contract year—perform big and audition for future free agency suitors. In Turner’s case, he’s averaging a career-high 17.4 points per game on 42.8 percent shooting midway through the season.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Granger, who is owed $14 million in also his final year of a five-year $60 million contract, has been on a downward trajectory due to persistent knee injuries. Replacing him with the 25-year-old Turner will only infuse the bench with more youth and athleticism.
When the 76ers met the Pacers back on Nov. 23, Turner was just 8-of-26 from the field, but mustered 21 points in a 106-98 Sixers loss. Nonetheless, Bird and company must have keep their eyes on Turner all the way through the trade deadline and saw something they liked.
"We felt we needed to make this trade to strengthen the core unit and our bench,'' said Bird in a statement.
That additional offense from Turner will certainly benefit Indiana when the postseason arrives. In addition to Paul George and Lance Stephenson on the wings as well as David West in the post, opposing defenses will have to contend with another potent scorer coming off Indiana’s bench.
It’s a recipe that the Pacers hope will produce a successful championship run after coming so close to the NBA Finals last season.