Magic GM doesn’t think Turkoglu was worth $50 M

I think we can file this one under “obvious,” since the Magic didn’t re-sign Turkoglu, but it’s interesting nonetheless…

Per Real GM…

In a conversation with Blazers’ general manager Kevin Pritchard, [Magic GM Otis] Smith told Pritchard that he had “caught a break” with Turkoglu signing elsewhere and made it clear the Blazers “weren’t missing out on anything,” sources tell RealGM’s Alex Kennedy.

Smith didn’t feel that Turkoglu was worth the five-year, $50 million Portland was ready to spend.

Turkoglu is 30. If anyone thinks that he’s going to be worth $11-$12 million when he’s 34 or 35 and at the back end of this contract, I’d like to have some of what they’re smoking. But both the Blazers and the Raptors knew that in order to get Turkoglu to agree to a deal, it had to be a long-term contract.

Smith didn’t say this publicly, so I’m not going to blast him for throwing a former player under the bus. But it still seems odd that he’d be badmouthing Turkoglu — one of the main reasons the Magic made an appearance in the Finals — to other GMs around the league. When Jameer Nelson went down, Turkoglu took over the ballhandling duties and acted as a point forward. He ran countless pick and rolls with Dwight Howard, dished out a bunch of assists and hit several huge shots. Simply stated, Orlando wouldn’t have made it to the Finals without him.

Is he worth $10 million a year heading into his thirties? Probably not. But he’ll probably earn his keep for the first few years of that contract, and that’s all the Raptors are worried about right now.

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The Top 10 Head Scratchers of the 2009 NBA Offseason

The NBA offseason is by no means over, but the lion’s share is behind us, so it’s a good time to take a look back at a few of the…um…let’s say “questionable” decisions of the summer. Here are my Top 10, in no particular order. Feel free to add to the list if I missed something.

1. Trevor Ariza plays spiteful hardball…and loses.
Let’s get this straight — the Lakers offered Ariza the same deal he was getting on the open market, and he refused since the Lakers could have offered more, but didn’t? Um, okay. David Lee (the agent, not the Knicks forward) says that Ariza wanted to go somewhere where he’d be “appreciated.” Lee overestimated the market for his client, and the Lakers quickly moved on to acquire Ron Artest. Now instead of playing for the world champs, Ariza is stuck in Houston on a team that faces a very uncertain future. Lee now says that Ariza turned down a deal worth $9 million more, but still picked Houston. It sounds to me like he’s just trying to save face.

2. Grizzlies acquire Zach Randolph.
Once the Clippers traded for Randolph (and his toxic contract) last season, I thought the bar for NBA general managers had hit a new low thanks to Mike Dunleavy and his wily ways. But Dunleavy proved that he wasn’t the dumbest GM in the league when he convinced the Memphis Grizzlies to take on the final two years Randolph’s contract at the tune of $33.3 million. Remember that $25 million or so of cap space that the Grizzlies were going to have next summer? Yeah, that’s down to about $8 million with this brilliant move. Just when it looked like Chris Wallace was going to rehab his image after the Pau Gasol trade — Marc Gasol panning out, trading for O.J. Mayo — he goes and does this. Sigh.

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Not so fast! Turkoglu picks Toronto over Portland?

Last night, it pretty much seemed like a done deal that Hedo Turkoglu was going to sign with the Blazers, but now ESPN is reporting that the Turkish forward is going to instead sign with the Toronto Raptors.

The decision left the Blazers livid and was a huge coup for the Raptors, who have promised Turkoglu all of the salary-cap space they will have from renouncing their rights to Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino, which will likely add up to a starting salary in the $10.1 million range, with eight percent annual raises.

A source close to the discussions said Turkoglu had given a verbal commitment to the Blazers on Thursday, then alerted the team on Friday morning that he was having second thoughts. By mid-afternoon Pacific time, the Blazers were told the deal was dead and Turkoglu would be signing with the Raptors.

Turkoglu will make about $3 million more over the life of the contract than he would have made in Portland, but a bigger reason for his change of heart, a source told ESPN.com, was his desire to play in Toronto, a more international and cosmopolitan city — one with a large Turkish population — and his familiarity with the Eastern Conference after having spent the last five seasons with the Magic.

It seems like a dangerous thing to delve inside the mind of Hedo Turkoglu, but I’m going to try. First, he sets his price tag so high that the team that made him a star — the Orlando Magic — can’t or won’t afford to keep him. So he’d rather play for the up-and-coming Blazers than try to repeat as Eastern Conference champs in Orlando. That’s a decision I could understand. I didn’t think that he’d get the $10 million per season that he was looking for, but the Blazers ponied up, and they look like a team that will be at or near the top of the West for the next several years. But to shun Portland to play for an also-ran that seems destined to lose its best player (Chris Bosh) for a few extra million doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I suppose it’s tough to turn down $3 million, but when you’re talking about $53 million or $50 million, I don’t see much of a difference. Personally, I’d want to play for a contender, and knowing how elusive chemistry and dynasties can be, I probably would have taken the four-year, $35 million extension from the Magic. I can’t blame Turkoglu for taking the extra $15 million and heading to Portland, but I do question the reasoning behind shunning the Blazers for the Raptors.

Maybe he’ll help the Raptors get back to the playoffs. Maybe he’ll be the difference that will convince Bosh to re-sign. Or maybe the Raptors will flounder as a fringe playoff team and he’ll eventually regret this decision as he watches Orlando and Portland play deep into the postseason year after year.

Turkoglu agrees to terms with the Blazers

Per TrueHoop…

Although a verbal commitment may be announced sooner, the terms of the contract cannot be finalized until Wednesday when the NBA informs teams what the 2009-10 salary cap will be.

The Orlando Magic’s recent trade for Vince Carter, who has a large salary and plays small forward — which is Turkoglu’s position — made it highly unlikely Turkoglu would be back in Orlando.

The Toronto Raptors expressed interest in Turkoglu, but were constrained by their other efforts to keep Shawn Marion and Carlos Delfino.

Turkoglu, a 6-10 forward from Turkey who played a prominent role in the Magic’s recent trip to the NBA Finals, had been looking for a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $50 million.

Five years and $50 million is a lot for Turkoglu, who is already 30 years-old and isn’t particularly efficient statistically. But his game is a pretty good fit for the Blazers, who want to space the court for Brandon Roy. Turkoglu is a good enough shooter to do that, plus he can handle the ball really well for a small forward, which help to take the pressure off of Roy. In fact, with Roy at the two and Turkoglu at the three, there’s enough ball handling there that the team doesn’t have to play with a traditional point guard. This may open up minutes for Rudy Fernandez, who was reportedly upset about the Blazers’ interest in Turkoglu.

The other thing to remember is that the Blazers’ cap space wasn’t going to last. They have to sign both Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge to big extensions as soon as this summer and Greg Oden will be eligible for an extension next summer. It was sort of a “use it or lose” it scenario for the Blazers, and owner Paul Allen has never been afraid to spend. They added a versatile, experienced small forward who proved in the playoffs that he knows how to win. $10 million per season is a lot for Turkoglu, but his game should age pretty well, so at worst the Blazers should get quality play for the first three or four years of the deal.

What’s lost in all of this is the fact that Orlando will not be bringing back the core that went to the Finals this year. Chemistry is a rare quality and the Magic may rue the day that they brought in Vince Carter and waved goodbye to Turkoglu. After all, there were two overtime games in the first four, and the Lakers won both. Had those games gone the other way, the Magic would have led the series 3-1 with Game 5 at home to clinch the title. They didn’t need to tinker this much, and GM Otis Smith may eventually regret it.

NBA Free Agency Rumors: Turk, Charlie V, Millsap and more

Pistons, Blazers interested in Hedo Turkoglu.

The Oregonian reports Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard and assistant general manager Tom Penn called agent Lon Babby last night to begin the courtship of Hedo Turkoglu.

With Carlos Boozer out of the picture, an NBA source tells the Chicago Sun-Times that Turkoglu is now the Pistons’ first choice in free agency.

While the Blazers’ interest has long been rumored, Detroit’s interest is a little surprising. They already have a very good small forward on the roster in Tayshaun Prince, so unless they’re planning to play Turkoglu at the four, someone is going to lose some minutes. Of the two teams, the Pistons have more cap space, so if they want him, they can get him. (And what about Ben Gordon?)

Charlie V ahead of Turkoglu on the Pistons’ wishlist?

Chicago’s Ben Gordon remains the backcourt player deeply coveted by the Pistons, but the prospect of a Gordon-and-Villanueva combo likely would be slightly cheaper than trying to sign Gordon and Turkoglu with Detroit’s nearly $19 million in projected salary-cap space.

The Pistons may also be interested in Paul Millsap, but anytime a team signs a restricted free agent to an offer sheet, that money is tied up for a week while his current team decides to match. That makes signing an RFA a dicey prospect.

I wonder if the Bucks are regretting letting Villanueva given the amount of interest he’s generating from their division rivals (Detroit and Cleveland).

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