Evan Turner is set to be the Boston Celtics' only true unrestricted free agent this summer, but the team's limited rights, combined with his potential open-market value after two solid seasons in green, makes it seem unlikely that he'll be back in Boston.
Turner stressed following his exit interview with the team earlier this month that there are bigger considerations than money and suggested that coach Brad Stevens is among those hoping the team can find a way to bring him back. On Sunday, Turner hinted to Comcast SportsNet that he might even consider a bit of a discount if the two sides could find a way to extend their relationship.
"Hopefully we can figure out a way to make it work," Turner told CSN at a fundraising event for Horizons for Homeless. "It’s a lot going on with the team, with the roster, the draft picks, and things like that. ... [Celtics brass and Turner] didn’t have any surefire talks about [a return], but there’s definitely admiration on both sides. I trust that [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] is going to do what’s best for the organization."
Pressed on whether he'd consider a hometown discount, Turner added, "Of course. I joke with people, this is the first time I left an exit meeting and the team wanted me back."
The Celtics hold Early Bird rights with Turner and can only offer him a contract that starts around $6 million unless they were willing to eat up valuable cap space -- the sort that might prevent the team from chasing the big fish they truly covet -- to retain him. With the salary cap set to spike this summer, the 27-year-old Turner could find a much larger payday on the open market, particularly after top-tier free agents make their decisions.
Turner averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists during the 2015-16 season and finished fifth in the voting for Sixth Man of the Year. His ball-handling abilities and versatility make him an intriguing option for contenders. Turner said earlier this month that he values a chance to win over money.