This article might get dated in a hurry, but we figured it was worth a gander to unpack just how perfect a fit Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner would be for this particular Chicago Bulls team.
Turner has seemingly been on the trade block for years now, and heading into the last year of his contract on a rebuilding Pacers team has only intensified the rumors. He’s always mentioned in a hypothetical deal with the Lakers for Russell Westbrook, where the Pacers would would no doubt be banking on the (very likely) chance that future L.A. pick(s) will wind up landing in the lottery.
Training camps have begun, and the Pacers maintain that Turner is going to open the season with them, with Lakers talks reportedly hitting a snag. So at least the Bulls could have some time to get a competitive deal together, should they so choose.
The outgoing player (and salary) has to be Nikola Vucevic, who is also on the last year of his deal. There is the ironic affect of Vuc being ‘too good’ for the Pacers to want to play in a tanking season. But the prize would be for whatever pick the Bulls included to upgrade from Vuc to Turner. There’s the Trail Blazers’ 2023 lottery-protected first-rounder that Chicago acquired in its Derrick Jones Jr. deal, or Chicago’s own first-rounder in 2027 or 2029. Also potentially substituting or adding a future pick swap.
Would that be enough for Indiana? It’s not a bad haul for an injury-prone non-All-Star, and it looks so far as if the Lakers (or anyone else for that matter) aren’t going to include two future firsts.
Especially with Lonzo Ball set to sidelined for the near future following another knee operation, Chicago’s defense threatens to look more like it did at the end of the team’s 2021-22 run than it did at the beginning.
If Turner could be the anchor of a playoff-caliber NBA defense and stay healthy for 65+ games at some point soon, an All-Defensive Team honor at the very least feels possible. Watch Turner swarm the San Antonio Spurs in this crucial late-game defensive play for Indiana. The man is a menace out there!
When healthy in 2021-22, Turner proved fairly effective as a complimentary offensive option capable of scoring inside and out while remaining fairly mobile on defense for a player his size. He averaged 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and a whopping 2.8 blocks in just 29.4 minutes a night. He shot 50.9% from the field overall, including a decent 33.3% on 4.4 long-range attempts. For his career, his a 34.9% three-point shooter on 2.6 looks. He’s also a solid free throw shooter. Last year, he sank 75.2% of his 2.5 charity stripe attempts a night.
Turner is exactly the kind of versatile defender the Bulls need in their underwhelming frontcourt. And he’s a respectable-enough three-point shooter that Chicago won’t be losing much of Vucevic’s production on that end. The 31-year-old Vucevic, a slower-footed, more ground-bound defender who can’t offer much help guarding the rim, is a comparable 34.8% three-point shooter on 2.2 looks for his career, but had his worst season since 2017-18 from deep last year. The big man nailed just 31.4% of his 4.5 triples.
Unlike Vucevic, Turner remains a hyper-athletic behemoth, capable of occasionally motoring to the rack if so inclined:
Health is perhaps the biggest asterisk we should ascribe to Turner. He’s still just 26, but the 6’11” big man has missed a combined 65 games across his last two seasons.
Turner, like Vuc, is extension-eligible this year. Chicago as currently comprised is headed nowhere fast in a crowded East. Why not take a swing on the young piece who could be exactly what the Bulls need to reach the second round of the playoffs next year?