By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
With training camp opening on Tuesday, the Celtics have added a versatile scoring wing to the team. Not to the roster, mind you, but the coaching staff.
On Monday morning, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Celtics are “finalizing a deal” to bring on Evan Turner as an assistant coach. The report adds Turner’s focus within the Celtics’ staff will be on player development.
The second-overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Turner played 10 years in the NBA. He spent two seasons with the Celtics, from 2014-2016, and was a key contributor on the first Brad Stevens team to make the playoffs. At 6-foot-6, he proved to be an early example of the kind of player Stevens would bring to the Celtics during his tenure – a hybrid guard/wing who was effective both as a passer and a slasher.
Turner will bring a new dynamic to the Celtics’ coaching staff, something they’ve been lacking in recent years. After Walter McCarty left to become the head coach at Evansville University in March of 2018, Boston hasn’t had a coach with experience as an NBA player.
Of course, playing in the NBA is not an ultimate prerequisite to become a coach in the league. But having somebody on the staff, whether it be a head coach or an assistant, who has played at the highest level, does have it’s value. For everything Stevens brings to the table in X’s and O’s, there’s naturally likely to be somewhat of a personal disconnect. His players have had, and will have, life experiences he never went through.
During his tenure in Boston, Celtics players praised McCarty as a valuable part of the coaching staff. He could act as a go-between for Stevens and the roster. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Kyrie Irving’s attitude took a sharp turn south almost immediately after his departure.
Beyond McCarty, the team also seemed to build a strong personal relationship with Kara Lawson, who was with the Celtics as an assistant last season. Lawson played at Division-I powerhouse Tennessee under the legendary Pat Summitt, then as a pro for 12 years in the WNBA. She left the Celtics to become the head coach at Duke in July.
In Turner, the Celtics will once again have a former professional voice on the coaching staff. He’ll be a recent voice too, as Turner played in the league last season. The 32-year-old will even be coaching one of his former Celtics teammates – his last year in Boston overlapped with Marcus Smart’s rookie year.
How much of a difference will Turner ultimately make? That’ll be hard to measure concretely. But for a young team with emerging stars, he’s the perfect addition.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.