Hedo Turkoglu wants out of Toronto?

The answer is a resounding yes, assuming this translation of an interview he did with a Turkish sports program is accurate.

The disconnect stems from a midseason incident where Turkoglu was accused of being out at a bar after he was too sick to play against the Denver Nuggets. Here is his side of the story:

After a sleepless Thursday night and not having eaten much, they asked me how I felt. I explained the situation and said, “I didn’t sleep. I’m not feeling good.” Their answer was, ‘We shouldn’t put you on the court without practicing.”

Our Italian physiologists said, “You are not starting today. After training on Sunday you’ll give it a go against Miami and Charlotte.” I nodded and did some weight work on game day.

Although they allowed me to go home, I wanted to watch the game with my teammates. After the game, I went back home. Some European teammates called me and said, “Hedo, are you sleeping?” Then they told me where they were hanging out, which is actually 100 meters away from my home. I said, “OK” and when I arrived, all the guys were here. And if you check the camera records, you will see that I left there in 15-20 minutes with Andrea Bargnani. I guarantee it. And if they prove me wrong, I will give back my contract!

So Turkoglu admits to being at the bar, but says he was only there for 15-20 minutes and that it was not his decision that he wouldn’t play against Denver.

Obviously, it wasn’t a good decision to go out after not playing in a home loss, but if he was really told by the training staff that he couldn’t play because he hadn’t practiced and if he was really only in the bar for 15-20 minutes, then the incident was really blown out of proportion. The reaction had more to do with the frustration in the perceived falloff in Turkoglu’s game than it does with any single incident.

This raises the question — just how far did Turkoglu’s production fall? Raptor fans will have more insight into the subjective nature of this, but his points per shot (PPS) fell from 1.26 last season in Orlando to 1.24 in Toronto, which isn’t much. Moreover, his rebound rate actually increased while his assist rate stayed about the same. His averages fell because he was playing six fewer minutes and took four fewer shots per game. His FG% and 3PT% were comparable to his previous season in Orlando.

So this looks like a case of a team with high hopes having a very disappointing year (compounded by the probable loss of Chris Bosh) and the newcomer they had hoped would be the missing piece getting all or most of the blame when things don’t go as expected. Throw in a controversial trip to a bar and suddenly Turkoglu is the target of Toronto’s frustration.

Later in the interview, Turkoglu basically asked for a trade:

When the circumstances turned against me, I lost my enthusiasm for this city. My lawyers have talked to the front office recently. Honestly, I do not want to go back to Toronto. My lawyers talked to Mr. Colangelo and I hope that they will come up with a solution soon.

I understand that he feels betrayed, but I’d like to see Turkoglu try to put the incident behind him since nothing would have transpired had he not made the decision to go to that bar after not playing in a home loss. Even if it was only for 15-20 minutes, he created this situation. He may not like the organization’s response, but his poor decision put them in the position where they had to respond.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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The curse of the Coach of the Year award

DIME MAGAZINE noticed something very odd with the last few NBA COY winners

2005–06: Avery Johnson, Dallas Mavericks, 60–22 (Fired April 30, 2008)
2006–07: Sam Mitchell, Toronto Raptors, 47–35 (Fired December 3, 2008)
2007–08: Byron Scott, New Orleans Hornets, 56–26 (Fired November 12, 2009)
2008–09: Mike Brown, Cleveland Cavaliers, 66–16 (Fired May 24, 2010)
2009–10: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder, 50–32 (???)

They were all fired within two years. The post goes on to speculate that the reason behind this trend is heightened expectations and I tend to agree. I’d go a step further, however. The award often goes to a coach who “got the most out of his team” (i.e. the team played “over their heads”). When this kind of outlier occurs, it’s far more likely that the team will return to the mean instead of continuing to develop into an NBA champion.

In other words, all it takes is one bad/mediocre season and the guy is a bum again. And with 30 teams vying for a championship, a bad/mediocre season is far more likely than a great one.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Brandon Jennings sounds like he might stay put

Jennings appeared on “Rome Is Burning” and said the following about Scott Skiles and the city of Milwaukee.

“I can’t complain where I am now, with a great coach,” Jennings said when Jim Rome asked how he felt about being selected a bit lower in the draft than he expected. “He’s been teaching me a lot this year and he’s the reason why I’ve had a successful season.”

Jennings was asked about Skiles’ approach.

“He’s real tough,” Jennings said. “But he’s a great teacher. He’s the guy that, hopefully, he’ll be my coach for the rest of my career. I feel that my game can elevate with having him on the sideline.”

Rome asked Jennings if he can see himself remaining in Milwaukee long term.

“I can,” Jennings said. “I like it. It reminds me of Italy.  . . . (a) laid back town, small little market and they’re real big on sports.”

This should quell any feelings of dread surrounding Jennings’ free agency. I realize that it’s five seasons a way, but we long-suffering Bucks fans are worry warts. Now that we’ve had a taste of (albeit mild) success, we want to build on it, not lose our star point guard to the Mavs in four years.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

What to do with Jeff Green?

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman says that while Kevin Durant is a no-brainer max-contract player, Jeff Green is another matter.

By holding off on an extension this summer and allowing Green to become a restricted free agent next summer, the Thunder would set into motion two significant elements that could ultimately make the move a smart play. OKC would retain the right to match any offer sheet Green receives from another team next summer. And the Thunder would allow the market to establish Green’s value, rather than potentially overpaying or even low-balling one of its core players.

It’s become the NBA’s latest trend, triggered by the combination of fewer top-flight, first-round talents in recent years and a downtrodden economy.

It’s safe to say Green’s deal should fall somewhere between $45 million and $55 million. What remains unknown is whether it’ll be the Thunder that opens the bidding this summer or another franchise that sets the bar next summer.

Green averaged 15.1 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. Using Basketball Reference’s nifty player season finder, in the last 15 years, only five forwards averaged between 14.5 and 15.5 ppg and between 5.5 and 6.5 rpg at the age of 23: Rasheed Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko, Luol Deng, Andray Blatche and Green.

Blatche and Green did it this season. Wallace, Kirilenko and Deng are nice players, but they didn’t develop into superstars, so the Thunder should be careful when signing Green to a new deal. Wallace appeared in four All-Star Games and Kirilenko appeared in one. Deng has yet to make the All-Star Game.

Widen the net a little bit (5.0 to 7.0 rpg) and Shane Battier, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrea Bargnani. Again, these are nice players, but there aren’t any bona fide stars on that list.

I assume Mayberry is talking about a five-year deal, so he pegs Green’s value at $9 million to $11 million per season. I’d put Green’s value at the bottom of that range. Green is a good starter, and teams that can sign good starters for under $10 million a season are ahead of the curve.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Top 10 Worst Tattoos in the NBA

Club Seat has a funny list of the ten worst tattoos in the NBA.

6.Michael Beasley (Miami Heat) – When you have a tattoo on your body that has the word “Supercool” in it, chances are you probably aren’t cool at all. When that tattoo is the size of your back, and in this case says “Supercool Beas”, then you’re definitely not cool and will never have a chance to be cool again in life.

See the entire list here.

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