After having an amazing year with the Orlando Magic during the 2008-09 NBA season where the Magic made it all the way to the NBA Championship, Hidayet Turkoglu has seen his NBA tenure take a downward turn since leaving the team during free-agency. Turkoglu averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game that year during the regular season.
First, Turkoglu was traded to the Toronto Raptors in July of 2009 in a four-team deal also involving the Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Raptors acquired Turkoglu from Orlando along with Devean George and Antoine Wright from the Dallas Mavericks. The trade also included Shawn Marion going from the Raptors to the Mavericks.
Turkoglu signed a five-year, $53M contract offer from the Toronto Raptors, after spurning an offer from the Portland Trailblazers, but spent only one season north of the border. In that sole season in Toronto, he averaged 11.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game in what was a down year (talks surfaced about him being a “bust”) compared to his time with the Magic.
After criticizing management and not “fitting” in Toronto, Turkoglu wanted out and got his wish along with some luck when the Phoenix Suns acquired the Turkish forward in July of 2010 in exchange for Leandro Barbosa and Dwayne Jones. The Suns took a big chance on a veteran player who was coming off a bad season and entering the second year of a five year contract.
Next, in 25 games with the Phoenix Suns, Turkoglu averaged 9.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. He was playing alongside Steve Nash and was not in his usual role of playing the point-forward, and instead was relegated to being just another “shooter”.
The Phoenix Suns then in December of 2010 agreed to trade Turkoglu, Earl Clark, and Jason Richardson to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round draft pick, and $3M cash considerations.
Now getting a very, very rare opportunity to once again play in Orlando, Turkoglu averaged 11.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game in 56 regular season games in 2010-11. Although his game fell in Toronto and Phoenix, he was able to be a contributor in Orlando with a better surrounding cast of players.
However, the Magic have a big decision to make regarding the future of Dwight Howard. They also have the contract of Gilbert Arenas on board, and will have a tough time finding a taker for him. They also have Turkoglu’s big contract and are most unlikely to be able to unload both contracts in one summer. General Manager Otis Smith has a lot of thinking to do as he has to make sure that what decisions he makes regarding Howard will not hurt the team in the future.
Turkoglu is familiar with the system in Orlando and may have more of a future in town over Arenas (who could be a candidate to be released if an amnesty clause is made possible). If Howard says that he wants Turkoglu around, then the Magic can breathe a little easier for the time-being.