Hedo Turkoglu confirms he will be a Toronto Raptor

Pretty interesting news yesterday that Hedo Turkoglu backed out of his deal with Portland to possibly sign with the Raptors.

Now, confirmation from Turk’s agent – From Doug Smith’s blog:

“We just had a nice chat with Lon Babby, Hedo’s agent, and there will be no more shenanigans.

Turk’s coming.

“We’ll be available when (Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo) is ready. We’re hopeful it’s Wednesday but if it pushes over to Thursday, so be it.”

Why does he want to come here?

Well, it’s a great city, Turk likes playing in the Eastern Conference and the deal’s for about $3 million more than the offer from Portland. It should come in at about $53 million but there’s no way of knowing for sure until the cap numbers are released next week.

About the love for the city? Said Babby:

“It’s uniquely suited for him. That’s his background. He’s looking forward to joining the Turkish community there.”

First of all, well done Smith. This is the first place I’ve seen any real confirmation of the deal, and it’s from a reliable source with quotes, so it’s gotta be true.

As for the deal, Smith gave a nice rundown of the pros and cons – I’ll give my opinions alongside in bold:

“Let’s look at some pros:

Another good ball-handler and initiator on the court. This, more than anything, was Toronto greatest weakness last season, and definitely the team’s greatest need. At times the ball handling was so pathetic that fans actually expected Jason Kapono to create and score. Honestly, it’s been so long since the Raps had a player that could score off the dribble (Vince Carter anyone? seriously) that fans will be amazed how much easier points come for Chris Bosh when defenders actually have to worry about someone on the perimeter. Turk is still pretty athletic, very versatile, and can score when the other starters have checked out of the game.

A guy you can give the ball to at the end of the game and say, ‘make a play’ while you stretch the floor with Jose (a very good three-point shooter) in the corner. Much of the same here, and it’s still true. Raps fans generally have this ridiculous notion that it’s fair to ask Bosh to be the closer late in games. As if any other team turns to their power forward (Dirk is the exception) at the end of games. You NEED a slasher from the perimeter if you want to have a chance at winning tight ballgames. Now the Raps do.

Let’s just say – as Jeff Blair first pointed out on a radio show last night – that Bosh leaves (and no, I don’t have any idea if he will). Do you feel more comfortable going forward with Calderon, Bargnani and Turkoglu or Calderon, Bargnani and Marion? A no-brainer over here. Agreed, to an extent. But if Bosh leaves, this signing serves very little purpose, since it creates a “win now,” or at least a “win soon” mentality. Trading Bosh for a few good pieces could be the route, but if the team loses him for nothing, they’re screwed either way.

You can put Hedo and Bargnani in the pick and roll; you could never do that with Shawn. Well yes, since Hedo can shoot. But it’s not like the Raps were short on the pick and roll game before.

Can you make this case: Toronto has the same kind of starting lineup now as the defending Eastern Conference champions? To wit: Calderon as Nelson, only better at many things like, oh, shooting and dishing out assists; Bosh in the Howard role, the guy who rolls to the basket on the high screen and roll, a far more accomplished scorer and while not a defensive intimidator, he’s passable; Bargnani does as much offensively as Lewis (check the stats, they are almost exactly the same); Turkoglu’s Turkoglu and, well, maybe DeMar DeRozan becomes Courtney Lee, which I don’t think is a stretch because now he doesn’t have to do anything offensively except make cuts to the basket, get on the boards and use his athleticism.

Well, here Smith completely ignores the need to play defense.

Let’s start at the top:

Jose vs Nelson – Sure, Calderon’s a better pure shooter than Nelson, but he is certainly (and it’s not even close) a worse defender. Pairing him with Turk is a little scary.

“Bosh in the Howard role” – I’m sorry Doug, but that’s laughable. I don’t care if he scores more – Dwight has 100000 times the impact Bosh does on any given night. I love Chris Bosh’s game, and I mean no disrespect, but seriously, it’s not even close. Howard impacts every single defensive possession, making it far easier to hide bad defenders like Turk. Offensively, he’s not as skilled, yet, but it’s coming slowly, and he’s such a force that teams have been fouling him late in games as the only way to avoid more dunks. Ask Cleveland how that worked out. Look, all I’m saying is that any GM in the league would trade Bosh for Howard. Then they’d hang up the phone and do cartwheels for hours.

Bargnani vs Lewis – We’ll see. One has done it for a lot longer, and a lot more consistently. But I’m willing to say Bargs can be even better than Lewis with time.

DeRozan vs Courtney Lee – Sure, but maybe we should see him play first. He could be better, or he could be worse.

But how about the rest of Orlando’s roster. Reggie Evans is nice but Marcin Gortat was an awesome backup center and could easily start for somebody this coming season. And how about Mickael Pietrus? Yeah, it would be nice to have ANY decent guard coming off the bench, and maybe they’ll sign one cheap. Next, Rafer Alston – Yes, it was through a midseason trade to replace Nelson, but he played great for most of the postseason. Do Raps fans trust Roko to be as successful? I’d say it’s up in the air.

Look, the point is that Orlando’s roster was better last year than Toronto’s is right now. They also had a one-year younger Turk, and he’ll only be aging now that he’s hit 30. The Raps will have an exciting starting lineup, though, and they’ll score a ton. I just wouldn’t say it’s in Orlando’s class right now.

Let’s look at some cons:

The bench may not be deep. But Ukic this year will be an improvement over Solomon last year; Reggie Evans remains an excellent pickup and, believe me, Bryan’s trying to get something done to get another two and/or three in town. Right now, that’s a concern. There is also a lot of time between now and October. Yep, the bench is thinner than sliced cheese right now. We’ll see what Colangelo does, and fortunately it’s the summer of a recession, and some decent players might be signed for cheap.

Too much money. Turk’s deal is big but they’ve projected the numbers out and it won’t hamper them doing something with Bargnani or Bosh when the time comes. Indeed, it is too much money, but teams almost always overpay for free agents. It’s just the way the league works, and if you want talent, you have to pay for it. It’s worth it if there’s flexibility to continue improving, but if the Raps are stuck below the elite teams for the next 3-4 years, it’s not worth it at all.

Poor defence. Yes, another concern. But with a full training camp to install a system and the presence of Mark Iavaroni, it might not be as bad as you think. As one guy who’s in the gym with them a lot said to me yesterday: “If we work on defence every day, they have to get better.” Don’t buy it – Maybe they can improve a bit, I guess, but it’s hard to teach defence. Evans will help, for sure, but fans should start readying themselves for really high scoring games.

Overall, at the very least, it’s an exciting deal for the Raptors, and it makes the upcoming season a lot more intriguing. Would Marion have fit better on the team? I don’t think so, but trust me, the Raps will desperately miss his rebounding and defence. If everyone stays healthy, it could turn into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. But barring more moves, that’s about it right now. It will be a lot of fun to have a clutch player to pair with Bosh, and Turk will have more than his share of great plays over the next few seasons. But again, it puts pressure on Colangelo to win something of substance soon, or really, what was the point?


Smith is here.

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