Myles Turner dealing with stress reaction in left foot, impacting his availability on the court and trade value
He is out for the rest of the month, likely longer. And with the trade deadline three weeks away, will he play again for the Pacers?
Myles Turner isn’t expected to put on his Pacers uniform for the rest of this month. The question is will he ever again?
The Pacers’ center, the longest-tenured player on the roster, was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left foot, the team announced on Tuesday. This came after Turner alerted the training staff last week that something didn’t feel right. Something was off.
He was examined by the team doctor as well as a specialist in Los Angeles, as I reported on Monday. And he will get another scan on his left foot in two weeks, much like T.J. Warren has been getting on his left foot every four weeks now.
“It’s definitely disappointing,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after practice on Tuesday. “But the good news is that this situation was detected very early and there’s a very good chance that this can be more of a short-term thing than a long-term thing. That’s the good news.
“He’s in good spirits. He’s obviously disappointed as well.”
This is horrible luck for the Pacers. They are 15-29, have the fifth-worst record in The Association and lost 13 of their last 16 games after Monday’s beatdown by the Clippers — who were without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. To compound the issue, they’re on a nasty road trip and away from The Fieldhouse for seven of eight games during this stretch.
Turner is on the road, in Los Angeles, with the team.
This is horrible luck for Turner too. It had become clear that trading him to a new situation, offering him a fresh start elsewhere, was best for both parties.
Turner and Domantas Sabonis have been teammates for five seasons; they’ve started together each of the past three years. Both players received extensions before their rookie contracts expired.
Without Turner for at least several weeks, an opportunity is there for third-year center Goga Bitadze, who scored a career-high 17 points against the Clippers. “It felt good,” he said. “Going out there and playing the game that I love. I’m confident in my game. I know I can play so to finally go out there and show that I could was good.”
Turner being sidelined also means more pressure falls on Sabonis and Caris LeVert. Opposing teams know Sabonis, who is averaging 18.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, is the central hub of the offense and so they’re sending multiple defenders. Sometimes three or more.
He has directed teammates to be ready to cut and “if it’s a wide-open look, that’s a great shot for us and we got to shoot it.” He’s told them if their defender helps off to come trap him, slide behind him and be ready for a layup or dunk. And if yet another defender helps, someone is going to be wide open.
“It’s a cycle of cuts and movements,” he stressed.
He’d also like to more playing time with Lance Stephenson. “We haven’t really played much since that game together on the court,” he said, referencing Stephenson’s 14-assist outing 10 days ago against the Jazz. “When me and Lance are on the court together, we have a great feel for the pick-and-roll game.”
Meanwhile, Turner has felt misused and underutilized. He leads the league in blocks per game (2.8) and total blocks (118). He has 26 fewer blocks than the entire Miami Heat team. But he has been wanting to maximize his abilities on both ends of the floor rather than only being known as a shot-blocker.
It’s a label he embraced and pushed, and his coaches and teammates repeat all the time how he’s “the best shot-blocker in the world.”
Turner was miserable last season, but did his part. And he thought this season would be different.
And it was, but not in the way he was hoping for.
Since being drafted by the Pacers in 2015, he’s never gotten out of the first round of the playoffs. Last year, they failed to make the playoffs. And this year, they’ve taken a huge step back and are headed for the lottery.
It was likely that Turner would get moved before the trade deadline, which is Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. ET. That’s 23 days away.
This complicates the situation. But by then, the Pacers and their medical staff should have a clearer picture of Turner’s foot. Rest and treatment is important. Stress reactions usually occur from overuse and if left untreated, lead to a stress fracture. That’s what Warren has spent more than a season recovering from.
Until this injury, Turner was healthy this season. He had played in 42 of 43 games.
However, foot injuries for big men don’t bode well. Turner missed seven games last season with a left ankle sprain and then he was unavailable for the final month of the season due a turf toe injury to his right foot.
Other teams will still be interested in acquiring him, but this injury does give them pause — and negatively impacts Turner’s current value. He turns 26 years old in March and is under contract for one more year, through the 2022-23 season, so his next team must be prepared to offer him a contract extension.
Many teams have been interested in him over the last few seasons — Charlotte, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles (Lakers), Minnesota and his hometown Dallas Mavericks. This injury gives teams something to be concerned with and remember, a player must pass a physical for a trade to be completed.
If it heals or is viewed as minor, and a reasonable offer is made, a trade is likely. And if not, then his value decreases even more heading into a contract year and the Pacers failed to maximize not just his talent on the court — but also in completing a trade.