Wow, well this is more surprising than the fat content in non-fat yogurt. Hedo Turkoglu has decided to not sign with the Portland Trailblazers and instead will play for the Toronto Raptors. He had an apparent change of heart after agreeing with Portland to help with the up and coming team. He has instead chosen to sign with Toronto and a more international friendly team.
Why Toronto over Portland? The money wasn’t the difference; they both would have offered him around $50 million. Portland reached the playoffs while the Raptors were enjoying a very early and disappointing summer vacation. The nucleus for both teams is solid, but Portland has the edge over Toronto with young stars like Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Fernandez (although Rudy has threatened to leave for Europe if the situation doesn’t improve). Toronto does have future former Raptor star Chris Bosh, but signing Turkoglu negates nearly any possibility of resigning Shawn Marion.
This is no Carlos Boozer leaving Cleveland after agreeing to stick around with the Cavaliers and LeBron James. However, the move still shakes up the free agent signing period. Shawn Marion is now orphaned, looking for some team to commit major money for a couple of years. Marion was reportedly hoping to stay in Toronto after being traded by Miami for Jermaine O’Neal. Before he landed in South Beach, he publicly demanded a trade while in Phoenix after he felt the Suns and its management wasn’t treating him properly. Where Marion will land is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. The Knicks employ the freewheeling offense that Marion thrived in while in Phoenix with D’Antoni. The Cavaliers are seemingly in every discussion about acquiring a free agent and could use someone who can play the power forward position and relieve the scoring burden of LeBron. Maybe Portland pulls a Houston and goes after the replacement. He already looks like Brandon Roy and he can squeeze in at the SF slot. More likely, he will end up with a struggling franchise looking for scoring and possible trade bait during the midseason sell off.
The real point is that I still can’t get over the very possible stupidity by the Orlando Magic. They essentially push Turkoglu out of the door by trading for the aging Vince Carter. Perhaps the move makes them more effective on a night-in, night-out basis as Carter provides consistent scoring. Turkoglu, however, causes the exhaustingly discussed matchup problems that frustrated the favored Cavaliers. Now, they allow Hedo to sign with a rival Eastern Conference team and challenge the Magic 3-4 times per season.
What impact does Hedo have on the Raptors? A truly international affair, the Raptors are full of foreign talent. They have no inside presence to speak of. Chris Bosh is a fighter in the paint, but his body isn’t bulky enough to compete with Howard, Shaq, or Chandler. Andrea Bargnani doesn’t make his living in the post, he would much rather drain the 3-pointer over the defender. They traded away Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon to the Heat in exchange for the soon to be departed Shawn Marion. Jose Calderon is a steady point guard who knows how to distribute the ball to snipers. Turkoglu plays the infamous “point-forward” position made famous by Scottie Pippen. While in Orlando, Turkoglu would play the 3 or 4 positions until it was clutch time late in the game, when he would take over control of the ball. The Raptors are now a legitimate threat for a #5 seed in the Eastern Conference. The move improves the team, but they don’t vault over the Celtics, Cavaliers, or Magic for Eastern Conference supremacy.