Evan Turner was supposed to push the Indiana Pacers over the hump last spring, but they ended falling at the hands of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second-straight season.
Turner’s arrival, which came via a deadline trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, wasn’t the only thing that didn’t go Indiana’s way in the second half, but he quickly became one of the faces of the Pacers’ demise.
“I did the best I could. When coach asked me to do something, I tried my best to do it,” Turner said of his short tenure with the Pacers, which he knows many viewed as a disappointment.
“Whether it was bring the ball up, pass it off or anything else. The thing that put a big hit on it was that I wasn’t putting up 15 points per game. I feel like I took a big hit on that, but I just tried to fit in and shoot when I could. Rebound, play defense. A lot of times those things get blown up.”
In 27 appearances with Indiana, Turner scored just 7.1 points on 41.1% shooting in 21.1 minutes per game. For his career, Turner has averaged 11.1 points on 42.7% shooting. Never an efficient offensive player, issues were magnified in Indiana.
“I had certain scoring outbursts and then other nights I only shot three times or something like that,” the swingman said. “That’s just how the game goes and you go along with it.”
Turner was also involved in some controversy with then-teammate Lance Stephenson. A Yahoo! Sports report claimed that Stephenson and Turner fought during practice as the Pacers were preparing for the Atlanta Hawks, their first-round opponent.
“I thought it was a great experience,” said Turner, who refused to say anything outwardly negative. “Once again, surrounding the Pacers there were a lot of rumors, a lot of controversy towards them and it made things seems crazier than it probably was.”
Turner watched his value decrease as he entered free agency, eventually landing a two-year, $6.7 million deal with the Boston Celtics. The No. 2 overall pick in 2010, who will turn 26 on Oct. 27, insists that he isn’t trying to silence any critics.
“I’m not coming in here like I have anything to prove, I really just want to get into a groove and make the best of my opportunity,” Turner said. “That’s really it. I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody else; I’m trying to prove something to myself. I have to look in the mirror. If I tried to prove myself to other people, I’d probably go crazy.”
Turner said there were no discussions between his agent and the Pacers this summer about a potential return.
“No, we both kind of decided that we were just going to go our separate ways and that was pretty much it,” he admitted.
A polarizing figure at both of his previous NBA stops, Turner is comfortable enough in his own skin to know someone is always going to find something wrong with his game given the expectations with which he entered the league.
“Too much is given, too much is expected, that’s just the way of life. When it comes down to it you know there are a hundred ways you can attack the story of me and how my career is going,” Turner opined.
“The one thing I always try to say is I’m getting better every year. I look at these past years, I feel like I’ve made jumps. When it comes down to it, next to my name you’ll either say the No. 2 pick before or after, so things come along with that. I’ve always just tried to fit in the best way I could. It hasn’t been the 25 points everyone has been expecting and whatever occurred, but I’m just worried about what’s happening now.”