The Celtics overplayed their hand with Gordon Hayward. Passing on a trade for Myles Turner will come back to haunt Boston.
Danny Ainge doesn’t make many mistakes, but it’s safe to say the Celtics botched Gordon Hayward’s departure. Instead of turning him into an asset via a trade with the Pacers, Boston elected to let him go to Charlotte for nothing.
The Celtics had a real opportunity to add Myles Turner to their frontcourt rotation in a potential Hayward deal. Reports claim that Indiana was willing to package Turner with Doug McDermott in a potential trade. Boston officials decided the flaws in Turner’s game were too significant to bring him, and his three-year, $54 million contract to Beantown.
Myles Turner is a much better player and a much better fit for the Celtics than Tristan Thompson
Instead, the Celtics elected to sign Tristan Thompson to a free agent deal that will pay him approximately half as much as Turner will make over the next two seasons. It’s easy to understand why Ainge and his front office were interested in the former Cavaliers’ standout. His ability to defend big centers in the post and guard smaller opponents in space help give Boston’s defense a degree of flexibility they lacked at times last season.
The miscalculation here is that Turner can replicate much of what Thompson does on the defensive end of the floor while also giving the Celtics’ offense even more spacing with his ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. Bostons saved money by going with Thompson, but they also cost themselves a chance to dramatically raise their playoff ceiling.
That’s really the only thing that should matter for a team that has the perimeter and wing talent required to be a legitimate title contender. The Celtics aren’t devoid of talent up front, but Turner would have given their starting five a noticeable upgrade at the center position. The combination of Thompson, Daniel Theiss, and potentially, Robert Williams, can give Boston solid production at the five during the regular season, but their lack of offensive punch will come back to haunt the Celtics during the playoffs.
Admittedly, Turner is not a perfect player. Despite his efficiency from the 3-point arc, he’s yet to turn into a high-volume bomber from distance. That, coupled with his lack of ability to dominate smaller opponents in the post who take him on via switches, prevents him from becoming an elite offensive force. That lack of killer instinct clearly played into Boston’s decision to pass on acquiring him.
In the end, the Celtics should have bet on Brad Stevens’ ability to help Turner take his game to another level. He would have been the perfect coach to get the maximum amount of production out of the inconsistent big man. Unfortunately for fans in Boston, their team chose to play it safe and will pay the price when the postseason rolls around.