Evan Turner looked at home at the conclusion of the Pacers' shootaround Friday morning, and why wouldn’t he? The Wells Fargo Center was his home floor for the first three and a half seasons of his NBA career.
That changed on Feb. 20, when Turner was traded to Indiana along with Lavoy Allen for Danny Granger and a future second-round pick.
“I can’t say it enough -- no animosity, no negativity,” Turner said of his feelings toward the Sixers' organization and the city of Philadelphia. “When the ownership, GM and president that drafted me left, I didn’t expect much beyond that. I am thankful for playing here and having an opportunity to play this year.”
Even though the former No. 2 pick did not think he would be a Sixer for life, he did not think he was being moved on the day of the trade deadline.
“I was shocked because I thought the deadline was over,” Turner said. He left the Sixers' practice facility that day after the 3 p.m. deadline thinking he would be a Sixer for the remainder of the season. “I was relieved in a sense because I could have been traded to a situation similar to this, but now I will have an opportunity to play in the playoffs.”
The Pacers (47-17) have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the third-best mark in the NBA.
Going to Indiana required Turner to accept a different role -- he went from being the Sixers' leading scorer to a reserve wing averaging 22 minutes per game and half as many points (9.2).
“Who doesn’t want to play, and when you think you are good enough to play those minutes but at the same time you are playing for something bigger than yourself,” Turner maturely said of his new role.
“Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself for the betterment of the second group. Some nights I get three shots. Some nights I get other people shots. Sometimes it is just screening and playing defense. Each night I am just trying to figure out how I can impact the game.”
The good news is Turner does find ways to help.
"He is really fitting in nicely with our team," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "He has been well-received by his teammates as far as fitting into our culture and chemistry and our locker room, where guys genuinely get along with one another. And then on the court he has given us a big lift with his versatility at the wing spot.
"Paul George and Lance Stephenson have reshaped how we play offensively with their abilities to play as ball-handling wings. And Evan fits right into that."
Going from a 15-win team to a 47-win team is different in so many ways, but the biggest thing Turner sees is a finished project versus one that is just getting started.
"I think experience -- here my teammates are all 27, 28, there are even some 30-year-olds and they have been through tough times," Turner said. "Here, I was at the beginning of something; now in Indianapolis I am at the end of a plan where they are trying to make sure they win a championship."