Center Myles Turner has not met the needs of the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs would be wise to inquire about his availability.
Through the first 15 games of the regular season, the Indiana Pacers have been significantly worse with center Myles Turner on the floor. Drafted with the 11th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the former Texas Longhorn is one of the game’s most coveted shot blockers with an expanding offensive skill set to match.
However, the Pacers are clearly committed to the development of center Domantas Sabonis, who they acquired in the Paul George trade with Oklahoma City in 2017. The fourth-year center is posting career-highs in minutes, scoring, rebounding, assists and blocks thus far while Turner has taken a backseat in a reduced role.
Statistics back the notion that the Pacers are much better off starting Sabonis over Turner. With Turner on the floor, the Pacers have a net rating of 9.7, which drops to -7.5 with him in the game. Their defensive rating improves by a whopping 11.8 without Turner in the game as their true shooting, rebounding percentage and average player impact estimate (PIE) all rise.
Turner is everything that the San Antonio Spurs long for at this point in time. His rim protection is superb, his three-point stroke has improved every year since entering the league and his production in the pick-and-roll is enticing. Though he’s not much of a playmaker, head coach and basketball genius Gregg Popovich can help Turner unlock layers to his game and become a superstar.
There’s already a trade history between San Antonio and Indiana, as shown by the legendary Kawhi Leonard trade back in 2011. If general manager Brian Wright decides to change this team’s outlook and trend toward the future, trading for Turner could hugely influence the Spurs’ timeline for the future while helping them address issues now.
Next: What would it take to get him?
What would it take to get him?
There are a few ways to make a trade work, but it depends on how willing the Pacers are to part ways with Turner. Indiana has been a lower-tier offensive team thus far with the 21st ranked scoring average at 107.7 points per contest. They’ve established more of a defensive identity led by Malcolm Brogdon at point guard with switchable defenders intertwining under head coach Nate McMillan.
In order to take the next step and become a contender to make a playoff run, the Pacers would benefit from the offensive prowess that scoring savant DeMar DeRozan brings to the table. His playmaking and scoring from the wing would nicely compliment Brogdon and alleviate some of the pressure on star player Victor Oladipo’s return.
DeRozan has already proven himself capable of leading a team in the Eastern Conference playoffs during his time as a Toronto Raptor and would be an incredible second option to Oladipo once he returns to the court.
An initial offer would be something along the lines of DeRozan and sophomore big man Chimezie Metu for Turner and wing T.J. Warren, who’s in the midst of his first season with the ballclub.
This could prove to be a tall order considering Warren’s great start to the season, so the Spurs could budge and take on Doug McDermott as a replacement to space the floor with just one more year on his contract after this one.
The Spurs may also look to include a first-round pick swap in either this season or the next, but an even swap of players seems like it could be enough for these two teams.
Next: Why would the Spurs want Turner?
Why would San Antonio want Turner?
First and foremost, San Antonio is in dire need of help on the defensive end. The only true center on the roster is Jakob Poeltl, who has greatly improved the starting lineup since entering. Still, his presence near the rim is transformative for the second unit and adding another reliable big man to the lineup can redeem the Spurs’ woes.
Turner alters shots near the rim without hesitation and is averaging just over two blocked shots per contest. Pairing him with LaMarcus Aldridge would be scary for anyone hoping to drive to the basket against San Antonio.
Offensively, Turner can spread out the Spurs’ offense as a 43.8 percent three-point shooter through seven games this season. He’s becoming adept at both pull-up triples as well as catch-and-shoot jumpers after spending the first few years of his career as a proficient mid-range shooter with gradual growth from behind the arc.
Replacing DeRozan with a proficient three-point shooter would greatly help the team to emphasize ball movement à la 2014.
Shooting isn’t the only offensive attribute that Turner brings to the table – he’s an unselfish player who attacks the rim with tenacity while providing a reliable post presence with hook shots and fadeaways. Though he doesn’t log very many assists, Turner is great at getting others involved and kicking the ball out to open teammates.
After coaching Turner through the FIBA World Cup for Team USA, Popovich has become accustomed to the big man’s game. He’s already had a chance to assess his strengths and weaknesses, so inserting him into the lineup wouldn’t be an issue.
Next: How would this influence the Spurs?
How would this addition influence the Spurs?
Not only does Turner align nicely with the Spurs’ current needs, but he fits with their future as well. The young center is under contract through the 2022-23 season at a reasonable $17.5 million per year salary.
Only one other player is guaranteed to be on the roster through that time: point guard Dejounte Murray, whose defensive prowess and athleticism pair excellently with Turner.
The Spurs have the rights to their two first-round rookies, Luka Samanic and Keldon Johnson, through that same season in addition to RFA rights over Lonnie Walker IV for the summer of 2022. There’s a blueprint for the future of this team that Turner fits with seamlessly.
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Settling for complacency isn’t in the nature of the Spurs as winning is the organization’s No. 1 priority besides the health and wellbeing of their personnel. Trading for Turner would be a win-now move along with a security blanket for the future.
As a Texas-native and Longhorn alumn, playing for the Spurs would give Turner the chance to return to his home state as a pro and expand his game with one of the best-run organizations in sports.
Turner’s effort on the court is matched by a positive and outward attitude off the court. The Pacers organization is similar to the Spurs organization because of its affinity for hard-working two-way athletes who’re similarly good people away from the game.
Though he likely wouldn’t be able to replace the output that DeRozan has provided since being traded to the Alamo City, a move for Turner is more about what’s to come rather than the immediate future. Addition by subtraction is real and there’s still a shot that the Spurs end up a better team, even without their leading scorer in DeRozan.
Across the board, Turner would be a nice fit for the Spurs if the Pacers are willing to deal him.