Evan Turner is returning to the Boston Celtics ... as a coach, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Turner will reportedly join Celtics head coach Brad Stevens’ staff as an assistant in a player development role. The 32-year-old former No. 2 overall pick played two seasons under Stevens from 2014-16.
Turner played for Celtics
Turner never met the hype from his junior season at Ohio State in 2010, when he was named the national collegiate player of the year and was drafted second (behind John Wall) by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was an old-school player entering the league at the dawn of a new era, a 6-foot-6 wing who could neither shoot nor play lockdown defense. The Sixers essentially traded him for nothing at the end of his rookie contract.
Turner ultimately found his calling as an NBA player under Stevens, playing point forward for a pair of surprisingly successful Celtics teams. He averaged 10 points, five rebounds and five assists in 27.8 minutes per game over two seasons in Boston, starting eight of the 10 playoff games he appeared in for the Celtics.
That earned him a four-year, $70 million contract from the Portland Trail Blazers that was panned from the beginning. His minutes dwindled, and his averages fell with them. Before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks in June 2019, Turner left Portland with a memorable performance in Game 7 of the Blazers’ second-round series against the Denver Nuggets. He finished with 14 points on seven shots in 19 minutes, including the game-sealing free throws to send the Blazers to their first Western Conference finals in almost 20 years.
Turner played just 19 games in Atlanta. He missed two weeks at the start of last season with an Achilles injury and played a total of 36 minutes for after straining his hamstring in late December. Turner’s expiring contract landed in Minnesota at the trade deadline, but he never played for the Timberwolves. He worked out with the Los Angeles Clippers in February but could not come to a buyout agreement with Minnesota.
Coaching move is a surprise
It is performances like Game 7 against the Nuggets just 17 months ago that make Turner’s move to the coaching ranks somewhat surprising. What would have made him a useful veteran on a playoff team is also what should make him successful in his new role. Turner was a beloved teammate everywhere he went, with the possible exception of Indiana, where he fought Lance Stephenson on the eve of the 2014 playoffs.
Turner is also an incredible character, once running out of gas in his Ferrari on a freeway. He has suggested “a lot more women would get into the game” if he were the NBA’s logo and self-deprecatingly said, “You’ve gotta respect a 15-percent three-point shooter. A guy like that is always lethal.” The man is a walking quote.
Upon being demoted to the Celtics bench in November 2015, Turner joked of Stevens, “I had to smell his breath for alcohol. I checked his office for drugs. I said, ‘You’ve gotta be high.’ You know what I’m saying?”
His return to Boston’s bench is a promotion, assuming a search of Stevens’ office comes up empty.
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports: