Former Celtics Player & Coach Speaks out on His Beantown Experience

Evan Turner Celtics

Getty Boston Celtics wing Evan Turner reacts during a 2016 game against the Charlotte Hornets.

Whenever an NBA team elects to bring in a new head coach, assistants from the previous staff typically find themselves on the hunt for new jobs. So, as the Boston Celtics forge ahead with Ime Udoka at the helm, it should come as no surprise that he is largely bringing in his own guys.

Earlier this month, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported that Joe Mazzulla is the only member of Brad Stevens’ crew likely to be retained.

One of the outgoing assistants, Evan Turner, had only just completed his first full season in the coaching ranks. And he had joined Stevens’ staff as someone with ties to Beantown and the Celtics organization from his playing career.

In an interview with Forbes’ Chris Grenham published on Tuesday, Turner was focused on that history and what a great learning experience his time on-staff was rather than the fact that his tenure ended so abruptly.

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“I was going back to a place I was very fond of,” Turner said of his transition to the coaching ranks.

The one-time No. 2 overall pick had played in 163 games with the Celtics from 2014-16, averaging 10 points, five rebounds and five assists per contest. The former Sixer and Pacer went on to play three years with the Portland Trail Blazers as well before finishing up with the Atlanta Hawks in 2019-20.

That fall, he announced his retirement despite the fact that he was still in his early 30s. Turner joined Stevens and the Celtics shortly thereafter, and he was hyped for the opportunity to do so.

“I had good memories in Boston. They always welcomed me back,” he said. “Any time you go into a positive environment, it’s definitely something exciting. So, that’s what I was really looking forward to.”

In the end, his experience proved to be a major eye-opener regarding the level of dedication that is required from NBA coaching staffs.

“I thought it was a great experience to go behind the scenes and see what coaches have to do every single day,” Turner said. “I definitely gained a lot more respect for my coaches because, as a player, we would be there two to three hours. They’re there for like 14, 15 hours a day trying to prepare and get us ready for the game.”

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On Brad Stevens & the Next Phase of His Hoops Career

While Turner praised his coaching cohorts for teaching him and being incredibly welcoming of him, he was especially grateful for the time he spent with Stevens.

“One thing was just to see him behind the scenes,” Turner said. “People get a different perception of him. I learned a lot more about him this year and I gained a lot of respect for him.”

He continued: “Even when it didn’t look like the best of times this season, he always stayed focused, stayed toward the bigger picture and got better day in and day out. I really admired that about him as a leader. A lot of people would have thrown in the towel or complained or this that and the other. He always tried to make the most with what he had, so I appreciated that.”

With a new staff in place for the Celtics, Turner is in the midst of planning his next basketball move. However, he’s not currently in any rush to latch onto just any coaching gig. He may even return to the hardwood as a player.

“Just waiting for opportunity,” Turner said. “I think right now, obviously, I have time to make the choice and make the right decision on what I want to do. But definitely something to stay close to the game, whether it is in a front office or even playing again. I’m just keeping all options open right now.”


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