A key player during the Orlando Magic's shocking run to the 2009 NBA Finals, Hedo Turkoglu has been reduced from a borderline All-Star to a living monument of the franchise's glory days (and the embodiment of the abysmal cap/player management that ultimately dismantled a championship contender).
Ever since Turkoglu signed with the Toronto Raptors, his level of play has sharply declined; not even a trade to return him to Orlando could resuscitate his flailing career.
Worse, he's become a bench player making in excess of $11 million while his millstone of a contract severely reduces the roster flexibility of the team.
Because the Nets would be unwilling to part with any of their key players (point guard Deron Williams, shooting guard Joe Johnson, small forward Gerald Wallace or center Brook Lopez), the deal would be centered around power forward Kris Humphries (whose contract pays him $12 million this year and next).
So why would Brooklyn want to deal for Turkoglu, who also is slated to earn $12 million in the upcoming season?
Turkoglu has a buyout option, allowing the team to cut him loose at the cost of $6 million, saving the team $6 million against its cap figure as well as half the cost of the contract. So the Nets would likely exercise the option to cut expenses or deal him to another team to add talent.
However, because the Nets lack young, talented players they would be willing to part with, the obvious assets the team would offer in such a deal include Humphries (to make the cap figures work in the trade), second-year shooting guard MarShon Brooks and draft picks.
The question becomes, "are the players and picks the Magic will acquire worth the extra money the team will have to fork over?"
My answer: yes, especially if the Magic make a deal to send shooting guard J.J. Redick to another team.
While I initially balked at the thought of paying Humphries $12 million and only getting a pick that will likely be in the 20s (because the Nets owe several upcoming second-round picks to other teams, meaning they could offer only first-rounders), I've since realized several things.
First, Brooks is a solid player who could be a lethal scorer off the bench (replacing Redick's role on the team should he be dealt). The pick(s) the Magic could acquire would be useful in the draft or in a trade, and the team might not have to pay all $12 million of Humphries' deal.
Around the NBA trade deadline every year, players with expiring contracts become coveted; the bigger the contract, the more teams want it.
So while Humphries is not a young player Magic general manager Rob Hennigan wants, he can dangle the expiring contract around the league next year to continue the rebuilding effort in Orlando.
And in the worst-case scenario, nobody takes Humphries off Orlando's hands and he clears $12 million off the Magic's cap figure when his contract expires. Sounds like a good deal to me.
The only downside for the Magic is that they will be taking on an extra $7.2 million (not including the contract(s) of any rookie(s) the team signs from draft picks it acquires in the deal), not to mention the risk that any player they select could end up a bust.
But the risk of a player failing to reach his potential exists regardless of whether the player is taken first overall or last overall. So why not increase the odds of finding a gem, even at the cost of several million dollars?
I'm not the one suggesting the trade, but in my humble opinion, if the deal is on the table, the Magic should not hesitate to make it.
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