Despite being atop the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers bolstered their lineup by dealing a one-time star to acquire a former second overall pick who’s in the midst of the best scoring season of his career.
Evan Turner could make his debut for the Pacers as they try to avoid a season-high third consecutive road loss Saturday night against the lowly Milwaukee Bucks.
A loser in three of five and only 1 1/2 games ahead of Miami in the East, Indiana (41-13) made the biggest splash at Thursday’s trade deadline by acquiring Turner and forward Lavoy Allen from Philadelphia for former All-Star Danny Granger and a 2015 second-round pick.
Granger, drafted 17th overall by the Pacers in 2005, has averaged 17.6 points in his career but injuries forced him to miss all but five games in 2012-13 and the first 25 this season.
"We thank Danny for his 8 1/2 seasons with us and we appreciate everything he did for us in his time here," Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said. ”We felt we needed to make this trade to strengthen the core unit and our bench.
"In Evan and Lavoy, we think we got two really good players that can help us and we look forward to what they can bring."
The 6-foot-9 Allen averaged 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 51 games for the 76ers this season, providing frontcourt depth in the deal in which Turner was the centerpiece for Indiana.
Picked second in 2010, the versatile Turner struggled in his first two seasons in Philadelphia, but averaged 13.3 points in 2012-13 and is at a career-high 17.4 while starting all 54 games this season. He’ll be expected to bolster an already formidable Indiana roster that boasts five starters averaging at least 11.1 points.
This trade comes almost three weeks after the Pacers signed underachieving veteran center Andrew Bynum. It’s uncertain when the former All-Star will make his Pacers debut.
Indiana will be looking to get back on track after falling 104-91 at Minnesota on Wednesday. Paul George had 35 points and 11 rebounds but committed seven of the 21 turnovers for the Pacers, who shot 40.2 percent and allowed a 42-point, 16-rebound effort by Timberwolves star Kevin Love.
"We will reflect on this," said George, who has scored 61 in the last two games. "We really didn’t want to lose and drop this game. But we have to move on. It’s all about the next game."
Facing Milwaukee, which is an NBA-worst 10-44 and lost 104-77 in the first meeting of the season Nov. 15, should provide the Pacers with the ideal opportunity to bounce back.
Indiana has held the Bucks to an average of 78.3 points while winning the last three meetings by an average margin of 22.0, though each came at home. The Pacers have shot 39.3 percent in their last three trips to Milwaukee and dropped the last two there, but the Bucks are a league-worst 6-22 at home.
Milwaukee was also active at the trade deadline, sending veteran guards Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal to Charlotte for backups Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. Sessions, who spent his first two seasons with the Bucks from 2007-09, averaged 10.5 points and 3.7 assists in 55 games for the Bobcats this season.
Neither player was available during Milwaukee’s 101-90 home loss to Denver on Thursday.
The Bucks also hope to have point guard and leading scorer Brandon Knight (16.7 points per game) back after he sat Thursday with a heel laceration.
"We certainly miss Brandon, but no excuses," coach Larry Drew said.
Knight missed the November meeting with Indiana because of a hamstring injury.