Myles Turner got a 4-year, $72 million contract extension from the Indiana Pacers ahead of this season, with incentives that could push him up to $80 million over the four years if he hits them.
All that for a center who can’t rebound, takes too many midrange jump shots, and has never posted a positive offensive Box Plus-Minus in his career.
At this point, you may be sensibly asking yourself why the Pacers just paid $18 million a year for Roy Hibbert when they could’ve traded Turner for assets and rolled with Domantas Sabonis as the starter and Kyle O’Quinn as the backup at the 5.
Now, there are two ways you can look at this. One is to question whether or not, per se, Turner is worth $18 million, as in is he good enough to actually be the Pacers’ starting center of the future or is he destined to be pushing Sabonis into backup minutes that are a net drag on the Pacers’ overall chances to win basketball games (to say nothing of forcing O’Quinn into garbage time when the One True Beard might be better suited as a legitimate rotation backup big so he can bring that rebounding ability to bear against other teams’ second unit.)
So let’s put Turner on trial. Myles Turner, you are hereby accused of grand theft salary, fleecing the Indiana Pacers of $72 million or more. Prosecution, your opening statement.
Your Honor, The Prosecution…
The defendant has shown limited offensive potential, and he has been found guilty in the past of choosing midrange jumpers, failing to drive the lane and unable to get beyond the three-point arc and consistently make shots.
He is a poor rebounder on a team that is consistently beaten on the boards.
Would this team really want to pay this much money to someone whose ceiling seems to be about an 18 or 19 PER and a minus on the offensive end?
The defendant is denying critical possessions to those who could do the team benefit. He’s stealing the money he’s earning. He’s no better than Evan Turner but makes the same money.
Objection, Your Honor! The Trail Blazers give dumb contracts all the time!
Sustained. And what vile slander to Evan Turner. You’re better than that.
“Sorry, Your Honor.”
Let’s look at the five guys on either side of the $18 million salary slot in 2018-19, according to ESPN.com.
Enes Kanter/Wesley Matthews (tie), Joakim Noah, Allen Crabbe, Goran Dragic, Kent Bazemore, Evan Turner, Draymond Green, Tristan Thompson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Jackson. And oh by the way, the next guy is Bismack Biyombo.
Go ahead and tell me Myles Turner isn’t at least as good as most of those guys. And it’s not like Draymond is lighting up the scoreboard this year.
Objection sustained. Draymond is a triple double machine on his best nights.
Very well, but we’re not done.
Proceed, Mr. Prosecutor.
Turner has taken 34.3 percent of his shots this season and 31.9 percent for his career between 16 feet and the 3-point arc. He’s shooting 44.4 percent from out there for his career. That is a war crime.
He takes about one shot in seven from three-point land and makes 34.1 percent of them, a .513 eFG%.
Objection! His coach has Scott-Hollins Syndrome.
Overruled. Prosecution, continue.
Thank you, Your Honor. Nate McMillan isn’t the reason Turner can’t drive the lane, and he’s not the reason Turner can’t figure out how to spot up and create ball movement and spacing.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I want you to consider that there are plenty of plus defenders in this league, but they don’t make $18 million to pump up the other team’s rebounding percentage. I mean, did you see the Cleveland game? Thompson, who is on the defense’s list, outplayed Turner on the boards like a man playing against a boy.
Remember the witness testimony? The one that said Turner’s 12.3 rebounding percentage wouldn’t pass muster as a small forward? The expert witness that pointed out O’Quinn’s had a higher PER than Turner for each of the last three seasons?
Hell, O’Quinn is twice as likely to get a rebound that happens in his area as Turner, and he has a similar block percentage. Turner is taking minutes from him, and Sabonis can start.
In closing, Myles Turner might be worth $18 million in a vacuum, but on the Pacers, he’s a bad contract unless it’s being used as a trade chip for comparable salaries at other positions. With his salary, he could be traded straight-up for Klay Thompson, but why would the Warriors do that?
The prosecution rests.
Myles Turner is a 22-year-old fourth-year NBA player. He is nearly a league-average three-point shooter with a coach who isn’t using him right. He is a guy who’s still on the upside of his career. He can be repurposed as a stretch 4—if Blake Griffin can do it, Turner can.
And with salaries skyrocketing as a lot of players see mega-extensions kick in, Turner is going to look like a bargain in 2023 when he’s 26 or 27 and making $18 million to be an All-Star.
Even if the Pacers traded him, where in the rotation would the new guy go? Is Nate supposed to play 11 deep? Three centers on good contracts? That’s injury-proofing that most teams would kill for.
And he’s an elite defender and shotblocker, the equal of Hassan Whiteside at a lower price.
$72 million isn’t grand theft. If anything, the Pacers are stealing money from the defendant.
No crime has been committed here. A solid NBA center signed a bargain contract for today’s league. Kevin Pritchard, who we called as a witness, is a credible judge of basketball character.
You don’t give up on a guy who was a 2.8 VORP player in his age-20 season. But we’re not here to tell the bailiff to arrest Coach McMillan. That can happen later. The slander at issue here is that Turner’s ceiling is Roy Hibbert.
The analogy doesn’t fit. And if it don’t fit, you must acquit.
We, the jury, find the defendant, Myles Turner, NOT GUILTY. But for gods’ sakes, learn how to rebound, Myles!