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Toronto Raptors Hedo Turkoglu: A Bad Season Does Not Equal a Bad Player

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Hedo Turkoglu #15 of the Orlando Magic lays the ball up past Lamar Odom #7 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  The Lakers won 99-86.  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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Stephen BrotherstonAnalyst IMay 11, 2010

Do you throw a potential team leader and former NBA finals starter out with the bath water after a single washed-out season?

Do you give up on a 30-year-old near-star player because he showed up to camp out-of-shape, faced serious family medical issues during the season, broke his orbital bone and then broke his nose?

Like other near-star, inflated ego, self-indulgent NBA players who just signed the first truly big deal of their professional careers, Hedo Turkoglu came into town and blew it.

It wasn’t all his fault, but in the end a 30-year-old professional athlete should have known better and made more of an effort to live up to his contract.

And Jay Triano should have known better than to let any player slide through training camp with an “I’m tired” excuse.  Hedo Turkoglu’s MGD moment should never have happened.

But that is hardly a reason for all the “let’s dump Turkoglu” stuff that is flying around the Internet.

Any reasonable person should believe Hedo Turkoglu was embarrassed by what happened this past season in Toronto and that there is no possible way that he would permit such unflattering circumstances to reoccur again next season.  If he has anything, Turkoglu has pride.

And most professional athletes have pride.  And most recover from an bad season to return to more typical production the following year.

Turkoglu isn’t washed up.  He isn’t that old.   The now 31-year-old is still in what should be the prime years of his career.  If the Raptors were to “force” another team to take Turkoglu as part of a sign and trade package with Chris Bosh, the odds are it’s the Raptors who would look stupid next season.

One of the NBA’s biggest problem players, Ron Artest signed a 5-year $33 million deal with the Lakers and his stats fell at least as precipitously as Turkoglu’s. And the Lakers could have had Trevor Ariza for the same money.

But Ron-Ron isn’t washed up either and still has years of high level ball left in him. And by the time it’s over, it’s likely Artest will be an important part of the Lakers drive to finals this season.

Everybody remembers guys who don’t live up to their contracts.  But veterans like Turkoglu (and Artest) can contribute to winning teams.  And dumping them because of a one-year slide in play is more likely to leave the the dumper with egg on their face next season than the likely lucky recipient.

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