Hedo Turkoglu Spurns Portland Blazers, Will Sign with Toronto Raptors

Nick PoustCorrespondent IIJuly 4, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Hedo Turkoglu #15 of the Orlando Magic warms up before Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Portland Trail Blazers thought they had Hedo Turkoglu. They should have, after all, he did have dinner with head coach Nate McMillan, met with General Manager Kevin Pritchard, and said “I want to be a Blazer.” So, obviously, they were shocked once Turkoglu informed them of his plans.

He broke up the talks with Portland, and will reportedly sign with the Toronto Raptors. It wasn’t because of the differential in money (so the reports say). According to a source close to the situation, he just didn’t feel comfortable in the city of Portland. He, as well as his wife, preferred Toronto, which is vastly more cosmopolitan than Portland. That’s fine by me.

I flip-flopped considerably (similar to Stephen A. Smith did during the 2007 NBA Draft, but not as extreme). I was undecided on what was best for the team. Yet, with this news, I am happy Portland was given the cold shoulder.

While some Blazers fans are frustrated, they can’t be as mad as Raptors fans. Their team about to sign a guy who, though immensely talented, will hinder their teams overall chances of succeeding. To ink him for a reported $56-60 million, they have to let forwards Shawn Marion and Carlos Delfino, and guard Anthony Parker leave via free agency.

So, for Turkoglu, who will be 35 by the end of the contract, they will be down two key players without any money to spend to replace them. Turkoglu is taking all of the cash they have to offer, and is someone, even paired with Chris Bosh, who will have a tough time winning with the Raptors.

Bruce Arthur of the National Post expresses his displeasure with the Raptors signing of Turkoglu, saying, “Make no mistake, this is a gamble. This is a roll of the dice in so many ways that the Raptors might as well put a roulette table at the end of the bench.

"That bench, incidentally, will now consist of a 6-foot-6 growler, a second-year point guard who looks 15, a guy whose nickname is Hump (Kris Humphries), and rotation players to be named later.

The Toronto Raptors will be Chris-Bosh-as-a-rookie-thin, and short on stuff like rebounding and defense…the pending acquisition of free agent Hedo Turkoglu is also a coup for a team whose relevance will be continue to be questioned until it makes some playoff noise.”

As for Portland, I hope Pritchard learns from Turkoglu’s slap in the face. I hope he realizes that this would have been a bad investment, and that the Blazers can improve in less expensive ways. The Blazers need a scorer and a backup power-forward. Turkoglu could have been both, but the contract was too long for my taste.

Now, they can use the money $11 million yearly salary they would have spent on Turkoglu on two players of necessity. Or, if they think guard Martell Webster is fully recovered and ready to contribute, they can woo someone like Brandon Bass, save a substantial amount of money, and solve all of their problems.

I know it’s cliche, but some trades are those that aren’t made. This means that Turkoglu thwarting the Blazers could be a blessing in disguise.