WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?????
That was my first reaction to the 18 text messages I had on my phone after finishing dinner my Mom who was in town from PEI for a few days.
I had put my phone away hours before, content that with Mr. Hedo Turkoglu well on his way to Portland, I could now relax a bit and let Bryan Colangelo work on David Lee, Shawn Marion, and maybe even Marvin Williams.
But after flipping through the first few texts and seeing the same messages regarding Hedo’s last minute change of heart, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach.
Indeed, both ESPN.com and Yahoo Sports are stating that Hedo, after a verbal agreement to sign with the Blazers on July 7th, has changed his mind and is prepared to accept a whopping $53 Million offer over five years from the Toronto Raptors.
And really, I’m at a loss for words here.
I thought Bryan Colangelo had learned about over-paying past-their-prime players with the Jermaine O’Neal experiment?
And even if Hedo isn’t past his prime, at 30, he’s getting damn near close to it, and regardless, even a productive Turkoglu still puts a major kink in Toronto’s cap situation for years to come…
…not to mention right now.
If this deal does indeed become final (and as an aside, at the 2:30 AM time of writing this blog post we’ve received no official word from the Raptors via their media line), this means that suddenly Toronto’s Summer League team looks to be a good bet to be the majority of the bench.
Nope, not a pretty sight.
In fact from ESPN’s link to the change in heart by Hedo, I had to laugh out loud at this passage:
As for the Raptors, the signing signaled their intention of trying to immediately assemble a championship-caliber team that could present match-up problems for Orlando, Boston and Cleveland as they try to persuade superstar Chris Bosh to stay in Toronto when he becomes a free agent next summer.
Toronto's projected starting five for 2009-10 now includes Turkoglu, Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and rookie DeMar DeRozan, with Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries and Roko Ukic the key reserves until general manager Brian Colangelo fills out the roster with minimum-salaried players.
Are you kidding me?
If Roko Ukic, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries are the key reserves, and DeMar DeRozan is now the defacto starting 2, explain to me again how this club is going to be a "championship caliber team???"
And again, it’s not that I don’t think Turkoglu is a good player, he is.
But he’s not an over $10 Million a year good player, and frankly, I don’t think he’s even as good an option as Shawn Marion.
I mean what happened to the whole "we need more fight in our players" thing?
What happened to the whole "we need to get more athletic" idea?
What about becoming a much better defensive club?
And wasn’t BC selling fans on the whole "we’re building a team that gets out in transition" plan?
Hedo isn’t tough (watch how he angles himself when driving to the basket), he’s not athletic, only defends when he wants to, and while he can get out in transition and control the tempo like Marion, he’s going to have to do a lot better than his 4.2 rebounds per game career average if Toronto wants to be the team starting the fast-break.
Bottom line here for me is that even if you consider Turkoglu an upgrade over Marion, it’s impossible to argue that it’s a huge jump (especially statistically) and in making this move, Toronto sacrifices depth once again (arguably even more so than last year at present) and throws their financial situation once more into disarray.
One of our readers mentioned Michael Dickerson and it’s quite possible that players like this will now be brought in to fill out the roster simply because they come cheap. At the estimated salary Hedo will be commanding, there’s nothing left outside the mid-level, and unless BC pulls a rabbit out of his hat and manages to convince Marion or Marvin Williams to bite on that, I’m not holding my breath for much more in terms of upgrades.
Again, I like Linas Kleiza, but is he and another bench option really the answer to the Clevelands and Bostons of the East?
Considering it’s almost 3 AM, I’m going to go to bed now and try to get some sleep.
I’m sure tomorrow our local beat writers, who have been curiously quiet on all of this, will fill in some more details by the time I wake up, and we’ll be able to digest things further.
However for now, as one of our other readers recommended, I’ve ordered my sedatives and am ready to try and look on the bright side of things; the lone bright side that I can see right now being that the Raptors made a statement to Bosh and the rest of the league about their intent to win now.
And really that’s all fine and dandy, but I can’t help but go back to something Kelly Dwyer said in this recent article on the topic;
Hedo Turkoglu is 30.
He's a fine player, but an average one, especially after you factor defense in. Please act accordingly.
Unfortunately in my books, Toronto completely missed this memo.
ANGRY AND CONFUSED FRANCHISE