As a basketball player in the NBA, Hedo Turkoglu has done many things.
He's been the first Turkish-born player in NBA history.
He's been a scrub at the end of the bench in Sacramento.
He's been a role player off the bench for those very same Kings.
He's been a role player as a starter in San Antonio.
He's been a main man on a championship-contending team in Orlando, and one of the more ridiculous All-Star snubs of the decade.
But in my opinion, he has just taken a major step backwards.
On Friday it was reported that Hedo has verbally accepted a five-year, $53 million deal to play for the Toronto Raptors next year. After it was revealed that Hedo would opt-out of his contract with the Orlando Magic, it was highly suspected that he would sign with the Portland TrailBlazers, but in the end, his destination was up north.
So Turkoglu has gone from being arguably the second-most important player on a Finals team from being the arguably the second most important player on a team that didn't make the playoffs last year.
Understand, I'm not criticizing Turkoglu on his decision...after all, it's his career, he can do with it what he wishes. I'm just saying, personally, I don't like it.
Turkoglu is one of the more underrated players in the league. I find it unbelievable he wasn't named an All Star.
He is one of the biggest matchup problems you'll find, he is an excellent shooter, great at getting to the rim, has incredibly undervalued passing and ball-handling skills, and although he won't be making any All-Defensive teams, he doesn't slouch on that side of the ball either.
Hence, why I think it's a shame that he has made this choice.
He was just three wins away from winning an NBA Championship this year. He was such a major piece of the puzzle for the Magic, and its almost impossible to imagine them getting past the second round without him.
So why did Turkoglu decide to walk away from one of the top teams in the league? An opportunity none too many would miss out on, especially when he is 30 years old.
Was it because Orlando signed Vince Carter and therefore made Turkoglu felt snubbed?
Perhaps it was. After all they do play roughly the same position (technically you could put either one at the shooting guard and the other at the small forward, but you get the idea). This of course also severely cut into the money the Magic could have offered, so maybe it was a financial decision?
With Carter playing on the Magic, they would have had yet another potential All-Star on the roster, and it would be almost unavoidable that Turkoglu would have had to taken on a slightly lesser role and a decrease in numbers.
His role in Toronto will undoubtedly be larger, his numbers will probably go up and maybe he'll get the respect he deserves. But on a team like the Raptors, will anyone really care?
In Orlando he had a chance to be one of the main guys on the big stage...that same chance will be hard to come by in Canada.
I don't see them going anywhere soon. Though they have talent on the roster, that has been true for the last few years, and they haven't been able to translate this into anything more than a division title.
Perhaps it would have been understandable if he had gone to Portland. Is any team scarier to envision in three-five years than the Blazers? They are up-and-coming, and have potential to spare.
The Raptors...not so much.
Is it perhaps about being "the man?"
As I mentioned earlier, there were a number of All-Stars on the Magic, Turkoglu would never be truly the main guy.
On the Raptors, it's possible. The team may be shipping out Bosh sooner than when his free-agency comes around, lest they get nothing for him if he decides to walk.
Could Turkoglu have foreseen this and seen a chance to be a face of a franchise? Personally, I doubt it—Turkoglu isn't normally all that interested in individual accolades, he's all about the win...but that just brings back the question, why go to Toronto?
Perhaps it is the finance...he does stand to make about $3 million more than he would have in Portland...but most sources say it isn't to do with finance.
Toronto is a much more cosmopolitan city and has a large Turkish community, as well as being a lot closer to his home country by flight than Portland. ESPN's Ric Bucher also reported that Turkoglu simply preferred the city, as did his wife, so it seems like this decision was more personally-based.
That's fair enough, but I still just don't like the walking away from a contending team. The chances of us seeing him making an impact late in the playoffs have just gone down considerably.
Having said that, it is a great signing for the Raptors. I have no doubt that Hedo is a great addition for them, they've improved greatly with this signing.
Many have touted the Raptors as a team to watch next year and one that could easily be on the playoffs...this becomes a lot easier with Hedo on the team.
He's still one of my favourite players, and one of the best in the league. I wish him all the best up north, hopefully he can have success there and be seen playing late into May once more.
Just another thing for Hedo Turkoglu to do in the NBA.