2016: Signing Evan Turner to a 4-year, $70 million deal
In the summer of 2016, the Blazers signed swingman Evan Turner to a massive 4-year, $70 million contract in hopes he could round out their starting lineup. Turner was coming off a decent season in Boston in which he averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
The lengthy, expensive contract Portland gave him proved to be an albatross that hampered the team’s flexibility. Turner never came close to living up to his paycheck during his time with the Blazers.
In two and a half seasons in Portland, Turner averaged less than 9 points per game on a poor 41 percent shooting overall and 26 percent from three. His lack of an outside shot allowed defenses to clog the lane. Turner struggled defensively against athletic wings.
By the 2019-20 season, Turner fell entirely out of the rotation under coach Terry Stotts. He was traded to Atlanta that year, along with a first-round pick to dump his salary. The Blazers got almost nothing from their massive investment in Turner besides an ill-fitting, overpaid bench player.
The Blazers regret tying up so much cap space in Turner for multiple seasons. Those resources could have been better spent retaining Matthews or Al-Farouq Aminu to fill that role.
If Portland could redo free agency in 2016, they would likely pass on the risky Turner contract and seek cheaper wings who are better spacers and defenders. Going all-in on Turner and giving the disappointing Festus Ezeli a two-year, $14.7 million dollar deal in 2016 was an expensive gamble that failed severely and put the Blazers in a financial bind for years.