Trade grades: Pacers deal Danny Granger to Sixers for Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen
The Pacers have agreed to trade forward Danny Granger to the Sixers for guard Evan Turner and forward Lavoy Allen, according to Yahoo Sports. Philadelphia will also acquire a future second-round pick in the transaction, according to Grantland, which was completed just prior to the official trade deadline on Thursday. USA Today reported that the pick is for 2015.
Granger, 30, has been a mere accessory for the Pacers since returning from lingering knee injuries. In limited minutes over the past two seasons, he’s averaged 7.9 points while shooting 35 percent — a far cry from his once-lofty numbers as Indiana’s first-option scorer. (He’s averaging 8.3 points on 35.9 percent shooting in 29 games this season.) The team’s natural evolution and Granger’s $14 million expiring contract presented an opportunity to move him, and the Pacers found a suitable trade partner in the ever-active Sixers.
Turner, 25, has taken full advantage of Philadelphia’s never-ending fast break by averaging a career-high 17.4 points, six rebounds and 3.7 assists. That’s an impressive and unique stat line — one shared (or bested) by just four other players in the league.
Allen, 25, rounds out what is already one of the most formidable frontcourt rotations in the league. He isn’t likely to see all that much playing time behind Roy Hibbert, David West, Ian Mahinmi and Luis Scola, but Allen is a serviceable big man in the final year of his contract. Creating immediate depth at no long-term cost suits the Pacers’ plans well.
Philadelphia is simply along for the ride as a means of securing yet another second-round pick, the sixth it acquired on Thursday. Granger will either play out his contract or be bought out before the end of the season, all for the cost of an expensive pending free agent Philadelphia didn’t have any interest in re-signing (Turner) and a big man who didn’t influence their plans much one way or another (Allen).
Pacers’ Grade: C+
For a deal involving two bigger NBA names, this is a trade of pretty marginal value. Turner, for all his production, is more shimmer than substance; pace inflation and ball dominance very much make Turner’s basic stat line more attractive than it should be, as his individual strengths haven’t yet translated well to a team concept.
In terms of base-level skills, he’s a standout. There’s no question that Turner can handle the ball smoothly and set up his teammates to score — a combination that puts him in select company among wing players. None of those skills, though, have managed to pull Turner’s career from an unfortunate gray area. As long as he’s neither efficient enough to justify a prominent offensive role nor well suited for a complementary one, Turner will continue to pose problems of utilization for whichever team employs him.
That’s Indiana’s concern now, though it’s one the Pacers gave up exceptionally little to bear. Problematic though Turner may be (especially in a somewhat redundant role alongside Lance Stephenson), Granger is now 22 months removed from playing even replacement-level basketball. His 49-percent true shooting and shaky floor spacing weren’t going to help a championship contender, setting the bar for an upgrade rather low. Turner should hop over it without issue, and if all goes according to plan, he could wind up being a legitimate help to the Pacers as they vie for the NBA title.
There are attractive elements to Turner’s game, and if nothing else he seems useful in light of Indiana’s inevitable grudge match with Miami. The Heat defense blitzes opponents at the point of attack and requires complementary players to create for themselves. Turner can do that, and through that skill alone may have validated his acquisition. Toss in Allen as an added bonus and it’s hard to judge the Pacers too harshly for redeeming value from a former star who had outstayed his usefulness.
One last note: This will be the only season that Turner and Stephenson — both impending free agents — play together, as their combined cost beyond this summer will be prohibitive to a team as tax-conscious as Indiana. Should Turner wind up re-signing with the Pacers, it will effectively signal that something went wrong in the effort to re-sign Stephenson. The two aren’t comparable in the slightest in terms of on-court impact, though from the broadest view of their skill sets, I suppose Turner could be seen as something of an insurance policy.
Sixers’ Grade: B
By one framing, all Philadelphia has to show for taking on a player it didn’t really want and adding more than $4 million in salary is a second-round pick. Yet in truth, the Sixers collected yet another draft pick while agreeing to spend money they had to spend anyway and giving away two players who didn’t factor into their future.
The important distinction between those two perspectives lies in accounting for the salary floor. By rule, every NBA team must pay its players $52.8 million in total salary this season, a mark which Philadelphia had yet to meet. The penalty for that deficit isn’t very severe; even in the case that the Sixers didn’t reach the salary floor by the end of the season, they would only be required to pay out the surcharge among the players on their roster. This effectively negates any reason why adding Granger’s larger salary would matter. If they hadn’t acquired him through this deal, the Sixers would be paying the same amount to other players on the roster regardless. That might be a bummer for Thaddeus Young and Michael Carter-Williams, but it doesn’t make any difference in evaluations of this deal.
The second-round pick acquired might not amount to much, but the Sixers didn’t lose a single relevant asset or pay a single dollar more than they had to. That’s solid work, even if it’s in the margins.
*Even after adding Granger, Earl Clark, Henry Sims, Eric Maynor and Byron Mullens on Thursday, the Sixers still don’t seem to meet the minimum salary threshold based on publicly available salary data.