In one of several big name signings this off season in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors signed the 30-year-old Hedo Turkoglu to a five-year $50 million plus contract. That wasn’t the big surprise, Turkoglu could have signed with Portland for similar money. The surprise was in the ravings from some writers and fans expounding on how the Raptors would live to regret this deal two, three, or four years down the road when Hedo’s skills will mysteriously desert him.
The exaggerated concerns over Hedo’s age are bordering on stupid strange. At least that’s what a logical person would have to conclude after listening to the Raptors GM and looking at the deals given to other players that have extended well into their middle thirties and beyond.
According to the Raptors GM, Hedo Turkoglu relies on his basketball I.Q. for his success rather than his athleticism. Therefore, like another middle-aged free agent that he signed, Steve Nash, Turkoglu’s effectiveness isn’t expected to decline at the same pace as other players.
But if one looks at other “middle-aged” NBA players who remain employed well into their thirties, Bryan Colangelo’s explanation is at best only a partial look into the signing of “older” athletes (it’s really hard to believe that anyone is calling someone old at 30 these days).
This off season, the four best teams in the league went and got older guys to be able to compete this season.
I’m sure the over 30 Pierce, Allen, KG, Wallace, House, Kobe, Artest, Carter, Lewis, Shaq, Big Z, Anthony Parker, Kidd, Dirk, K-Mart, Chris Anderson, Duncan, and McDyess will all be glad to hear they are about to steal their employers money instead of leading their teams as their ability sinks into the abyss of time.
The league is full of productive over-30-year-olds at every skill level. Let’s take a closer look at who’s really counted on by the winningest teams in the NBA, the over-30-year- olds.
The Boston Celtics won a championship by getting older, much older, and they believed the way back this season was to add age and experience. Someone want to challenge them on this?
Ray Allen, age 34, $18,776,000 one year left
Kevin Garnett, age 33 $16,417,000 three years left
Eddie House, age 31 $2,862,000 one year left
Paul Pierce, age 31 $19,795,000 two years left
Brian Scalabrine, age 31 $3,413,000 one year left
Rasheed Wallace, age 35 $5,854,000 three years left
Yes, the Boston Celtics, one of the teams favored to make the conference finals, is clearly afraid to sign older veterans (the 35-year-old Wallace) to multi-year deals (sarcasm intended).
The Lakers signed Lamar Odom and Luke Walton, both of whom turn 30 soon, to deals that run for four more years and signed the technical/flagrant foul junkie Ron Artest, who is also about to turn 30, to a five-year deal. Not to mention that the Lakers will happily extend the 31-year-old Kobe to whatever the CBA will permit.
Ron Artest, age 29 $5,854,000 five years left
Kobe Bryant, age 31 $23,034,000 two years left
Derek Fisher, age 35 $5,048,000 one year left
Pau Gasol, age 29 $16,452,000 two years left
Lamar Odom, age 29 $7,500,000 four years left
Luke Walton, age 29 $4,840,000 four years left
So, did the basketball community predict the impending doom of the Lakers three years from now? Bah!
This off season, the league’s very best regular season team knew that their best chance of getting back to the NBA finals was to get older! So they did. Welcoming in the 37-year-old Shaquille O’Neal and the 34-year-old Anthony Parker to play with the 34-year-old Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Now that’s one way to move the average age of your team up in a hurry!
This is hardly an exhaustive list. Think of Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis in Orlando. Try on Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry and Dirk in Dallas. Being over 30 doesn’t mean you’re done in the NBA.
If anyone still thinks NBA players are finished in their early thirties and that Hedo Turkoglu doesn’t have a chance of being a productive player towards the end of his five year deal? Please feel free to explain how the numerous GMs in the league, who have signed deals with these “older” players that they are counting on to win them games, are wrong.
Hedo Turkoglu didn't start his career as a veteran. To learn more about Turkoglu, check out Hedo Turkoglu, Not Just A Turkish Screen and Roll King!
Teams that win count on veteran leadership. And, the only way to become a veteran is by getting older. Someone have another method?