In as long as it takes Evan Turner to lace a pair of high-tops, he went from being the man to sixth man.
This is a lot for a 25-year-old, already three-plus years entrenched in a community, to process. Nonetheless, it’s what Turner, former face of the woeful Philadelphia 76ers, experienced after being traded to the Indiana Pacers.
“I still talk to a few players there and the coaches and everything like that,” Turner said. “The whole thing is just an adjustment not being in Philly anymore. I just try to put everything aside and play hard.”
On Feb. 20, the Pacers exchanged aging former All-Star Danny Granger for the 6-foot-7 Turner and power forward Lavoy Allen.
Results have been mixed.
Prior to Friday night’s return to Philly for a game against his former teammates, the former Ohio State guard/forward had been averaging 9.3 points a game in 22.8 minutes of court time as a Pacer.
Decent numbers, but ones that don’t fully explain Indiana’s 5-4 record with Turner wearing blue and gold.
Turner has had his moments. Thirteen points, seven rebounds and six assists off the bench in his first action, a 118-98 romp against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. Another 22 points in a losing cause eight nights later in Charlotte.
Conversely, Turner, in his other five most recent performances, produced a total of only 24 points.
Changing addresses, uniforms, teammates and coaching philosophies requires an adaptation period all its own. Turner’s learning curve was made significantly steeper by the fact he arrived in town 56 games into an 82-game regular season.
It’s since been a crash course in learning what is a drastically new role.
Prior to the trade, Turner was the main draw in Philadelphia — a pretty good player on an awful team who might just be worth the price of admission, regardless of how the team fares overall.
The No. 2 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft by the 76ers, he averaged 17.4 points this season in Philadelphia, with 26 outings of 20 or more points. Now it’s about learning to mesh with guard C.J. Watson, forward Luis Scola, centers Ian Mahinmi and Andrew Bynum and other members of Indiana’s bench.
“It hasn’t been too hard, the acclimation of going from being the go-to guy to coming off the bench and trying to fit in,” Turner said. “Sometimes trying to figure out what’s best in certain situations during games. It’s not hard. It’s an adjustment. Just trying to get where I fit in and play hard defensively.
“The biggest thing is finding out what (teammates) do well. I’m trying to feed off them and help them be successful.”
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said transitioning from one franchise to another isn’t difficult no matter what point of the season.
Vogel’s bench through various offseason and regular-season signings has almost been completely overhauled from the group that helped take Indiana to Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals.
“It’s not that hard to blend them in,” Vogel said. “Where it shows itself is there’s a handful of plays throughout each game where maybe he’s not in sync with a teammate because he’s new. Or maybe you’re limited in what you want to call because he doesn’t know that little detail in one of your play sets.
“There’s little things like that you have to overcome, but it’s not really something that’s very hard.”
Vogel anticipates Turner being a major part of his team’s stretch run these final 17 regular-season games and on into the postseason.
Now presented with an opportunity to help Indiana win its first NBA title, his demotion in one sense proved quite the promotion in another.