Rumors and speculation surrounding Kevin Love have put the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA offseason limelight for the first time in awhile, but the search for more talent in free agency is underway with the team’s reported interest in free agent guard Evan Turner. Any trade involving Love would likely bring high-end talent in return, so is Turner a good fit?
Turner was drafted second overall in 2010 by the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in three-plus seasons. He was traded to the Indiana Pacers in February, and he averaged 7.1 points per game in 27 regular season games before playing in 12 playoff games. That included just four total minutes in one game during the Eastern Conference Finals, so it was not surprising the Pacers allowed Turner to become an unrestricted free agent by not extending him an $8.7 million qualifying offer.
Turner would certainly come cheaply, likely on a one-year deal, which would fit with a possible plan by Flip Saunders to have a lot of salary cap flexibility in July of 2015. If Love somehow stays in Minnesota for all of the 2014-15 season and follows through on his reported intention to opt-out of his deal, he would be added to a list of possible expiring contracts currently on the Timberwolves’ roster.
If Love is not traded before the season starts, which is clearly not an ideal scenario, Turner’s ability to play shooting guard and small forward would make him a solid fit off the bench. But a Love trade could bring a better player or two at those spots (Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes?), and Turner would likely find an opportunity for more playing time elsewhere. All in all, anything beyond a passing interest in signing Turner at this point has to be a backup plan for the Timberwolves and nothing more.