The Celtics appear to be heading into this truncated NBA offseason intent on addressing one of the major shortcomings the team had during last year’s playoffs—the center position. Daniel Theis was the starter and handled his role well, but at 6-foot-8 and with a general lack of bulk, Boston team president Danny Ainge knows he needs to upgrade the position.
According to a report in the Indianapolis Star, the Celtics have already had discussions about a trade that would address the issue, talking about a trade for big man Myles Turner—though the Pacers have not ruled out keeping him.
As beat writer J. Michel wrote, “Myles Turner had been resigned to playing on another team going into the offseason according to league sources with knowledge of the situation. The interest in him around the league remains extremely high, including Boston and Charlotte, but the most recent interactions he has had with the Pacers suggest he could stay put.”
— J. Michael (@ThisIsJMichael) November 12, 2020
Turner has been in the uncomfortable position of splitting time with fellow center Domantas Sabonis, and the team would be better served breaking up the pairing. Turner has been in the NBA for five seasons, and while he is an outstanding rim-protector and has improved his 3-point shot, his offensive game as a whole has remained stagnant. Turner averaged 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds last year, blocking 2.1 shots.
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Turner is only 24, which puts him in the same age range as Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. He has a reasonable contract, with three years and $54 million ($18 million each year) remaining.
Gordon Hayward Would Be Celtics-Pacers Trade Centerpiece
As with so many of the trade proposals involving the Celtics that have been brought up in the past month, any deal that the team could make for Turner would have to center on two things—Gordon Hayward opting in to the final year of his contract and the Celtics being willing to trade Hayward away.
Hayward has an option worth $34 million for next season. He could opt out and become a free agent, leaving the Celtics in danger of losing him with no return, which is what happened with Al Horford last year.
Alternatively, Hayward could opt in and either stick with Boston or try to work out a trade location and deal that is suitable for both sides. It is presumed that Hayward and the Celtics would work together on any such deal, because Hayward has deep ties to the Boston organization, especially coach Brad Stevens, who was his collegiate coach at Butler.
Still, there has been talk—mostly unsubstantiated rumors—that Hayward wants out of Boston.
Ryen Russillo says Gordon Hayward wants out of Boston
"I heard Gordon Hayward does want out."
(Via the Bill Simmons Podcast) pic.twitter.com/9sTAwqjRLv
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) November 4, 2020
That is one reason a potential deal to the Pacers makes sense for all sides. Hayward is from Indiana and still maintains a home in Indianapolis.
Myles Turner Has Celtics Connections
Turner does have a connection with several Celtics players.
He was part of the 2019 Team USA contingent that played for the World Cup in China last summer, a team that featured four Celtics: Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker. That team struggled, finishing seventh in the tournament.
He also posted videos of himself working out with two Celtics big men, Tacko Fall and Grant Williams.
Those videos drew significant attention—was Turner signaling a coming trade to Boston?—but it should be pointed out, Fall, Williams and Turner are all represented by the same agency, BDA Sports, and it is common for players who share an agent to work out together in the offseason.