Pacers Myles Turner isn't addressing trade rumors after today. Here's what he said

INDIANAPOLIS — On the heels of one of the most eventful offseasons of his career and facing what could be his final year in a Pacers uniform, Myles Turner tries to block it all out. He’s enough of a veteran to know how to do it. When he was younger, he might have struggled to keep from thinking about how he’s entering the final year of his contract, or that the Pacers’ attempt to sign Deandre Ayton in July likely would have hastened his departure, or the trade speculation that isn’t likely to stop until after the deadline.

Entering his eighth season, though, focusing on basketball and what he can bring to the Pacers for as long as he remains on the team isn’t hard for Turner. He’s excited to play with Tyrese Haliburton, who came from Sacramento in February while Turner was out with a stress reaction in his left foot. He’s looking forward to being a leader among a new set of young teammates.

Still, the uncertainty isn’t going anywhere, no matter how hard Turner tries to concentrate on what he can do on the court.

“This is the only time I will be addressing it this year; I want to make sure everyone knows that,” said Turner, who declined to discuss any contract negotiations. “Yeah, elephant in the room. For me, this is my eighth season. I’ve been in trade rumors the past four or five years. It’s something that I know that I’m numb to. It’s something that it’s just whatever comes with this business. There are no hard feelings in this business. You have to take the emotions out of everything, and I’ve learned that at a young age, and I still hold true to that. My job is to come in here and help these young guys now, man.”

Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, right, talks to Myles Turner (33) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in New York.
Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, right, talks to Myles Turner (33) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in New York.

True to his word, Turner approached this past offseason no differently than he has throughout his career. He met with coach Rick Carlisle multiple times in his hometown of Dallas, eating dinner together one night, spending a few days in the gym. More recently, he was back in Indianapolis for pickup games with his new teammates and to get back into basketball shape as he returns from his foot injury. Of the 18 players on the Pacers’ training camp roster, 10 are either in their first year with the team or didn’t join until after Turner hurt his foot in January.

Also among the 18 are 10 players who have played fewer than three seasons in the NBA. Turner, the longest tenured Pacer, viewed himself as a leader before, but his vocal role is more obvious now than ever. He referred to himself as the “big brother” in the locker room. In his early seasons in Indiana, his mentor was Al Jefferson.

“I’m gonna give you this game,” Turner remembers Jefferson telling him. “I’m gonna tell you what it is. Your only responsibility is to share this game one day.”

That day has come.

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If Turner’s goal is to only concentrate on basketball, the clearly defined expectations of what he will bring to the Pacers will help. His job will be to play center — power forward isn’t in the plans — protect the rim, mesh his game with that of Haliburton, a pass-first point guard who figures to help Turner in the pick-and-roll, and mentor the younger players. Anything that might happen in the front office is immaterial when he steps onto the court.

“I don’t gotta change nothing,” Turner said. “I’m here to be myself. I think that the only thing that quote-unquote changes is just the years. I feel like I’m someone who’s established myself in this league, and I have that respect, and I want to gain that respect from the young guys just going forward.”

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers: Myles Turner on contract, trade rumors, future