Trade rumors involving Evan Turner started last season, and still, he remains in “The City of Brotherly Love.” According to Chris Vito, Sixers beat writer for Delaware County Daily Time, Turner said that he would accept a bench role in Philadelphia or elsewhere to be a part of a winning team.
With that said, Turner is even more likely to join a new team before the February 20th trade deadline. Plenty of teams are either in title contention or on the fringe of the playoffs that could use Turner. It has become common knowledge that the Sixers are trying to package Turner and Spencer Hawes instead of parting ways with Thaddeus Young. Both Hawes and Turner could be key contributors either as role players or coming off the bench for a winning team.
Here are a few teams that come to mind.
1. Detroit Pistons
Detroit has been one of the surprise teams in the NBA, but for all the wrong reasons. With the acquisition of Josh Smith to the young nucleus of budding stars Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe in the front court, the Pistons on paper looked better than the majority of the teams in the Eastern Conference.
Unfortunately for them, it hasn’t been quite that simple. The front court has been crowded to say the least. Drummond, Monroe, and Smith all do most of their damage from in close. With that said, there isn’t much space for any of them to operate.
Despite the Pistons’ lackluster 17-25 record, they are on the verge of making the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference. With the right pieces, they could thrust themselves right into the thick of things. As it stands now, they are two games out of the eighth and final playoff spot, but just five teams in the conference have a winning record.
Monroe is one of the most talented young bigs in the NBA, but the floor spacing simply isn’t going to any better. With that said, Smith is locked down contractually for four years and owed $54 million. Drummond has established himself as the one with more potential between Monroe and himself. That leaves Monroe as the odd man out.
The Washington Wizards have already reported interest in Monroe but likely won’t have the assets necessary to pry him away from Detroit. However, if the Pistons could upgrade their talent at the small forward position and move Smith to his natural power forward slot, the spacing should improve, as should the Pistons.
In his fourth season with the Sixers, Turner has increased his previous career-high scoring average by more than five points per game. As it stands now, the swing-man averages nearly 19 points per contest to go with his above average play-making and rebounding for his position.
Turner would be an ideal player to slide into Detroit’s starting rotation at the small forward position. With that said, Sam Hinkie and company are trying to package Turner with Spencer Hawes. Joe Dumars likely wouldn’t complain about inserting Turner into his first unit and adding another skilled big man in Hawes to come off the bench.
To make the salaries match, Detroit would have to add a larger-scale contract in order to make this deal possible. Luckily for them, Charlie Villanueva is owed over $8 million this year despite appearing in 13 games for a whopping average of nine minutes per contest.
Before you say, “Why would the Sixers want a washed up power forward that doesn’t play for $8.5 million?” let me explain. Villanueva has an expiring contract, meaning he would become an unrestricted free agent this summer and he would be off the Sixers’ books for next season. It would just be a contract the Sixers would take on for this season, since they have the cap room. Monroe is the prize here. However, I imagine the Sixers would want to agree to a contract extension with Monroe, before trading for him.
In addition, Detroit would likely be willing to throw in a second-round pick. Barring a miracle, they likely wouldn’t give up a first, but stranger things have happened. Regardless, we all know how much Sam Hinkie loves second-round picks. For instance, he was a part of the group in Houston that drafted Chandler Parsons with the 38th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.
2. Washington Wizards
Washington is stuck right in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. They currently hold the sixth seed in the East but are just two games out of third. With that said, they are in a position that may entice management to be “buyers” at the deadline rather than “sellers”.
Otto Porter Jr. was supposed to contribute right away after being drafted third overall in last summer’s draft. Unfortunately, due to injury and other unforeseen reasons, that has not been the case, and Porter has actually completely fallen out of the Wizards’ rotation.
As a team, they have struggled somewhat to score consistently, ranking 18th in the league at 98.8 points per game.
With all of that said, the Sixers would likely welcome another young player to their rotation if the Wizards were willing to give up a draft pick that Hinkie views as value.
Turner makes significantly more than Porter at this stage in their careers, but the brass in Washington would likely be more than willing to package Eric Maynor, who has completely fallen out of the rotation as well.
When it’s all said and done, Philadelphia is looking to rebuild, meaning they need young assets and draft picks. Washington could certainly use another scorer, and Turner would fit that bill.
3. Houston Rockets
Last but not least, the Houston Rockets come to mind as potential trade partners for the Sixers. Daryl Morey and company have been looking to deal disgruntled big man Omer Asik since the very beginning of the season, and who else better to link up with than his former assistant, Sam Hinkie.
Hinkie was a part of the group that decided to sign Asik to that big offer sheet to pry the 7-footer away from the Chicago Bulls despite experience as just a back-up to Joakim Noah.
With the Sixers far from contending and the Rockets looking to put themselves in the middle of championship contenders, the two general managers may have different views on draft picks, especially with Houston likely to be well out of the lottery.
A late first-round draft pick, or even a second, to go with Asik and rookie point guard Isaiah Canaan would be good value for the Sixers as well as serve as a significant salary dump.
The addition of Turner and Hawes would provide the Rockets with that much more depth, which they desperately need. In return for two players not in the rotation and a draft pick, they would receive two key pieces in their pursuit of a championship.
Asik has just two years remaining on his deal, meaning he would be off the Sixers’ books before they were extremely relevant again. On the other hand, if Asik can prove to be an asset, he could find a potential home in Philadelphia.
When all is said and done, either Evan Turner or Spencer Hawes will likely be wearing a different uniform come mid-February. With Turner’s value significantly higher and him not really figuring into the team’s future, the Sixers would be naive to not explore trade options for him.
The three potential trade partners listed above make sense for the Sixers to reach out to. All could offer assets that should interest Brett Brown, Sam Hinkie, and the rest of the front office.
Rebuilding takes time, but stockpiling young assets could result in a quick turnaround.