Turner excited to join on-the-rise Hawks

Ben Stinar

ATLANTA — Evan Turner was last seen during the Western Conference Finals playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that was thought to have a chance at beating the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors. However, they got swept and Turner won’t be getting another crack at an NBA Finals appearance. Last week, in a player for player swap; the Atlanta Hawks sent Kent Bazemore to Portland and received Turner in the agreement.

The Hawks are his fifth NBA team during his nine-year pro career, and most 30 year olds going into the final season of their contract would not be happy to join a team coming off of a 29-win season. However, this is not the case. He’s ecstatic to be on a young, up-and-coming team that has a legitimate chance to make the post-season next year. There are also some personal reasons for being happy with the trade.

“I have a beautiful little daughter,” Turner said to reporters. “She lives in South Carolina, so in Portland it’s tough to get her out there.”

Turner missed a call from Blazers general manager Neil Olshey, and subsequently called his agent asking him if he’d been traded. Upon figuring out he likely had been traded, he hoped his new home would be somewhere on the East Coast. Luckily, he ended up on the closest team in the NBA to South Carolina.

“Basketball’s dope,” he said. “Being a parent, influencing her the right way and being around her, loving her, is No. 1.”

Adjusting to his new team may not be that difficult. Head coach Lloyd Pierce was an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers just a few seasons after the team drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. His role with the Hawks right now appears to be the backup point guard, and a much-needed playmaker off of the bench.

“I’m not gonna try to come over and overly big-brother people,” he said. “Just be a great teammate.”

His experience could bode well for a team that doesn’t have much. He’s played in 63 NBA playoff games, and is coming off of a season in which he played a key role for a team that made the Western Conference Finals. There is belief this Hawks team could make the leap (ahead of schedule) and become a playoff team as soon as next season.

“I know how to play the game of basketball,” he said. “Most importantly, I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

He plans to go to NBA summer league for just a day, because he doesn’t like Las Vegas. After that, he will go to Chicago, where he’s from. As for the city of Atlanta, he is happy about the cost of living being cheaper, going to Waffle House and the energy surrounding the Hawks. However, he truly enjoyed his time in Portland.

“It was no dislike in Portland or anything,” he said. “I liked everything we did, I was able to do a lot of great things, hit a lot of major feats I never would have imagined. In regards to make the Western Conference Finals and all that stuff.”