Last night while browsing through various posts on Twitter, I came across this note to Chris Bosh from Jason Kapono:
@chrisbosh woulda been sick to play with turk and you, but imma beat you guys with iggy and brand
This immediately caught my attention, not only because I always find these sort of athlete-to-athlete messages interesting, but also because Kapono, like many other NBA’ers of late, seems to be quite enthused about the addition of Hedo to Bosh and co.
It got me wondering about other individuals takes as well outside of the Raptor fan base.
I mean, what about other coaches and GM’s? If every NBA team had a chance to make a run at Turkoglu this off-season, even at the rumoured price Toronto is going to pay, would they have done so?
Of course I didn’t have that information at my disposal but taking things one step further, I wondered if via the NBA blogosphere, it would be thought-provoking to get the other side of the coin in this situation; ie a Portland Blogger’s take?
And who better to touch base with then Ben Golliver of the Portland Trailblazer’s blog, Blazer’s Edge.
I shot Ben a quick note yesterday therefore to get his take on 3 questions, sort of an off-season edition of our usual "Blogging with the Enemy" feature.
Here’s what he had to say:
1) RaptorsHQ: Originally, were you in favour of Portland's attempts to sign him?
Blazer’s Edge: Hedo has been talked about for weeks and weeks and weeks as a potential Portland free agent acquisition. Back in Mid-June I wrote,
"I wouldn't break the bank for Hedo although he would be a noticeable upgrade at the 3 and would certainly provide some starting lineup clarity. You can maybe shift Nic Batum to a reserve role but it's Martell Webster that really complicates things. Webster would be seeing negative playing time in that scenario, unless you can trade him, which would require convincing another team to take on 3 more years for a guy that hasn't stepped on an NBA basketball court (except to seriously injure his foot for the second time in 3 months) since the Spring of 2008. At this point Hedo feels like a long shot. Indeed, just about any move for a big time 3 seems like a long shot given Webster's (questionable) health and Batum's publicly-discussed role in the Blazers future."
Obviously, it didn't turn out to be a "long shot" given how hard and how far Portland pursued Hedo, but it never felt like exactly the "right fit." Not only because of the lineup questions posed above but because Hedo's status as the premier free agent on the market meant Portland would be cashing in years worth of salary cap flexibility chips to obtain him. It seemed like a departure from the Kevin Pritchard/Tom Penn tradition that we've seen over the last few years. Also, it didn't directly address either of the team's two biggest weaknesses: point guard and frontcourt toughness.
Don't get me wrong, though: it's important to add talented pieces even if they don't fit perfectly. Had the Blazers signed Hedo I wouldn't have been complaining. The question to me was always "Is Hedo the best option?" rather than "Is Hedo a good fit?" The Blazers punted at last year's trade deadline and this year's draft to put themselves in the best possible position to pursue... Hedo Turkoglu. Really? That was surprising to me given the other players that were out there available as salary dumps.
2) RHQ: Why or why not, and do you think he's worth the money that both Toronto and Portland were throwing at him?
BE: I wrote about 10 days ago that the fifth year of his projected deal seemed "almost out of the question" and even the 4th year was questionable when taking into account the growth curve of the rest of the Blazers. Hedo is going to make his biggest impact in the next two years, no one disputes that. I actually think that had the Blazers acquired Hedo, they were odds-on to make next year's Western Conference Finals. That's a huge step for this city and team and NO ONE would have been complaining about the extra 2 years on his deal if that had happened (at least not until a few years later). So for the Blazers you can definitely make the argument that he was worth it for the next two years and arguably the third year. After that, it gets hazy. You certainly know the Raptors' salary cap situation better than I do but it's hard to imagine anyone (especially a guy like Colangelo) banking on big production from Hedo come 2012-2013.
3) RHQ: And finally, what was the fall-out in Portland? Some Blazers' fans that I spoke to were furious with Turkoglu and others have been comparing it to Carlos Boozer's reneging on his handshake agreement with the Cavs a few years ago. Thoughts?
BE: I think there were two different trains of thought that immediately crystallized.
First, there were feelings of relief from the group that was against acquiring Hedo. This included a sub-group of fans that were initially against Hedo but rallied around this management group's decision to pursue him because of a strong faith in Pritchard and company established by their past performance. Once Hedo decided to go to Toronto, that support crumbled almost instantly, giving way to relief.
Second, and more interestingly, there were those fans (and there were many) that truly did want Hedo. For them Hedo's flip was a gut punch. Those are most likely the ones that are "furious" and feeling jilted that you've talked with. I think they have a right to their frustration. I felt the same way when Pritchard drafted Oden over Durant. "So close!!!! Yet so far."
Feeling powerless over a franchise that you care deeply about can be really, really frustrating.
In the end, though, the real fallout is a citywide confusion: "Oh crap, what's coming next?" The organization went all out for Hedo and failed. The fans right now are getting the impression that the organization didn't have any serious contingency plans. Hedo was plans A, B and C. Maybe D too.
Only time and action by Kevin Pritchard will resolve that feeling of confusion. So, I guess we'll see.