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Grading The Deal: Pacers Make NBA's Boldest Deadline Move In Trading For Evan Turner

The Indiana Pacers made a huge, late splash at the deadline on Thursday afternoon when they sent the team’s longest-tenured player, Danny Granger, to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen.

Indiana will also second a future second round draft pick to Philadelphia as part of the deal.

Granger, who has averaged 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds on 35.9 percent shooting in 22.5 minutes this season, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He played in just five games last season because of knee issues and had his 2013-14 season delayed because of calf woes.

The second round pick the 76ers will receive could be the longest-lasting asset for either team in this deal. Lavoy Allen, who has contributed 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.8 minutes, will be a restricted free agent this offseason.

Turner will also be a restricted free agent this July. He is averaging 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in 34.9 minutes and his addition makes the offseason even more intriguing for the Pacers, who already have a vital unrestricted free agent in Lance Stephenson.

It’s amazing how little the 76ers were able to get in return for Turner, even with the lack of a long-term deal. Sam Hinkie had reportedly been holding out for a first round pick, but he settled for a future second rounder and a veteran player that carries an expensive, expiring contract.

A future second round pick from Indiana is likely to be very low, perhaps in the bottom five overall for at least the next few seasons. Turner may have been unlikely to re-sign with Philadelphia, but they could end up having moved him for the 59th or 60th pick.

Grade for 76ers: D+

It’s difficult to hammer Hinkie for the return because gathering future picks has been his modus operandi as he continues to build for the long-term. It is surprising, however, that Philadelphia wasn’t able to get more than a low second-rounder, who seemed to carry much more value just a few weeks ago.

Grade for Tanking 76ers: A

If you are among those you value/appreciate tanking, this deal is a great one for the 76ers. They traded their leading scorer for almost nothing in return. Personally, I find it hard to put faith in Ping-Pong balls.

Grade for Turner: B+

Turner goes from a 15-40 team to a 41-13 club with title aspirations. It seems like a dream scenario for Turner, and it very well may be, but his free agent value may decrease as his minutes with undoubtedly diminish.

With that said, Turner could show a lot to teams potentially interested in pursuing him if he makes the most of his minutes off the bench without using up too many possessions. He will have more riding on the next three-plus months than trying to help Indiana win a title.

Allen has played some serviceable minutes for the 76ers over the last three seasons, but his future wasn’t in Philadelphia either. He could carve out a nice role in Frank Vogel’s rotation while learning from veterans David West and Luis Scola.

The biggest loser in this trade is Granger, who now has a finite number of games left in his season.

Granger, who averaged at least 18.7 points for the Pacers for five-straight seasons at one point, had been reduced to a role player in the last two seasons. Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, the forward has played in just 34 games.

Grade for Granger: F

He wasn’t going to return to Indiana next year, but after eight-plus seasons with the organization that drafted him, Granger will miss out on another deep playoff run. He was a vital piece when Indiana threatened the Miami Heat in 2012, but that almost seems like a generation ago.

As if you needed to be reminded, basketball is absolutely a business. Granger carried the team on his back in some of their darkest days and his rewards over the past 18 months have been injuries, a reduced role and now a trade to a bottom-feeder.

It remains to be seen if the 76ers will attempt to agree upon a buyout with Granger, allowing him to sign with a playoff team for the stretch run.

Granger watched Paul George grow and overtake him as Indiana’s biggest star, in part while sidelined, and for all intents and purposes he handled it like a true professional. They share an agent, Aaron Mintz, and Granger helped lobby for the Pacers to draft George with the 10th overall pick back in 2010 knowing full well that he played the same position.

He leaves the Pacers behind only Reggie Miller in made three-point field goals (964) and having provided entertainment for fans when there wasn’t much to cheer about at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Granger never had the impact the Pacers hoped for when he returned in late December. He scored 10 or more points 12 times, while shooting 33 percent from three. Granger had a True Shooting Percentage of .491 and .428 Effective Field Goal Percentage. Those figures are at .561 and .500, respectively, for his career.

Grade for Pacers: A-

If the Andrew Bynum signing hadn’t already made it obvious, Larry Bird and Kevin Pritchard are clearly swinging for the fences. Championship windows open and close extremely fast in the NBA and the Pacers are looking to maintain their hold on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference as they set their sights on getting past the Heat and into the NBA Finals.

The Pacers will essentially plug Turner into Granger’s 20-plus minutes off the bench, which will have a differing effect. Nearly half of Granger’s shot were from deep and a loss of explosiveness has cut down on his slashing ability. Turner may not always take the best shot or take care of the basketball, but he can create.

Granger wasn’t giving Vogel much, so it’s hard to believe that Turner won’t at least provide the same level of production. You might say that Turner’s floor was Granger’s ceiling over the next few months.

Turner had a 24.2 usage rate with Philadelphia, which inflated some of his positive (and negative) statistics. Many people compare his offensive playing style to that of Stephenson, which is an interesting comparison given what could happen this summer.

Prior to this trade, Stephenson’s future with the team was the only question mark surrounding the core. With Turner in the fold, this July becomes much more interesting.

Turner was the second overall pick in the same draft that Indiana took George and Stephenson, who was selected 38 picks after his newest teammate. Since they will both be free agents, Bird can keep Turner to the side as insurance in the event Stephenson leaves.

Stephenson has professed his love for Indiana whenever asked about his future and you could argue the presence of Turner can be used as a bargaining chip in talks. It’s not hard to imagine Bird sitting down with Stephenson and his agent, Alberto Ebanks, and saying: “We’d love to keep you, but if you are looking for too much we’ll just wave goodbye and negotiate with Evan.”

As my colleague Danny Leroux astutely pointed out during my appearance on the upcoming trade-deadline edition of the RealGM podcast, adding Turner also gives Indiana the ability to swing a sign-and-trade for an asset this summer. The options this summer have been multiplied.

There is more risk involved here than there was with the Bynum signing, but the ceiling is even higher. When Bird was fully engaged and wanted something during his playing days, he did whatever he had to in pursuit of it.

He’s doing the same thing as an executive.

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