BOSTON — We have heard how good a coach Brad Stevens has been for the Celtics.
And then Evan Turner goes out and lands a four-year, $70 million deal from the Portland Trail Blazers, which says more about Stevens than the crazy NBA free agency market.
Remember, it was just two years ago that Turner was a player that hardly anyone wanted.
Sure, he put up big numbers in his final season in Philadelphia before they traded him, but the Sixers were still a bad team.
And when he arrived in Indiana, the Pacers seemed to regress which on the eve of free agency, led to Turner’s stock taking an Enron-like plunge.
So, in came the Celtics, offering him two-year, $6.9 million contract and with it a chance to change the narrative of him as being a lottery pick bust.
Instead of being a bust, Turner blossomed into a reliable, jack-of-all-trades who could impact the game positively off the bench or in the starting lineup.
And while Turner certainly deserves a lot of credit for turning his basketball career around, it’s also yet another testament to what Stevens can do for veterans in need of a image makeover (read: Dwight Howard).
Kris Humphries was on the Celtics’ 2013-2014 squad which was Stevens’ first season as an NBA coach.
Humphries was part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with Brooklyn, a player whose contract was viewed as being as valuable as he was as a player.
There were rumors all the way up to the trade deadline that Boston would move him and his expiring contract.
Instead, they kept him around and gradually Stevens found ways to get him in the game, allow him to do some things on the floor that he had not done before.
So, rather than having to settle for a veteran’s minimum contract which seemed to be in his future, his play under Stevens led to a three-year, $13 million deal with Washington.
Humphries credits Stevens’ system as being one of the keys to his success and ability to land a decent, multi-year contract following a season in which Boston won just 25 games and he shot a career-best 50.1 percent from the field.
“If you look at a lot of guys, they have a lot of versatility in their game,” Humphries told CSNNE.com in April. “They’re able to handle the ball more than they have throughout their careers, show they can do more in terms of being an overall player. That helps guys with the NBA today, 1 [point guard] through 5 [center] has to be able to make plays. Brad’s system lets you do that.”
Especially for players like Humphries and Turner, who parlayed success under Stevens into a huge payday.