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A Eulogy for Hedo

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Hedo's been gone for a while but apparently isn't ready to be forgotten.  After one last (maybe) jab at the Raptors' organization, the HQ takes a final look at the Ottoman's brief career as a Dino...

This hasn't exactly been the best off-season for the Toronto Raptors.

Their franchise player goes about the free-agency process with little to no regard for his former team before leaving, last season's big free agent acquisition is unceremoniously dumped, two trades fall through after being leaked to the masses, and verbal jousts take place in the media between the current General Manager and two of the team's former cornerstones post departure.

At this rate DeMar DeRozan will be asking for a trade by October and Amir Johnson will need season-ending surgery shortly after.

In the latest incident of this nightmarish summer for TO, former small forward Hedo Turkoglu lashed out at GM Bryan Colangelo and the Raptors organization saying:

"People have to realize something is wrong with that organization and nobody wants to go there any more...It's not just the players who see this."    

Taken as a one-off statement, ordinarily this sort of thing wouldn't be a big deal.

It would simply look like a case of sour grapes, a former player trying to sway public opinion in his new zip code, hoping to put a horrendous previous year behind him.

But now, combined with some of the other situations previously alluded to, it admittedly has a more profound impact in my opinion.  As well, Hedo's statement to Fox Sports Arizona doesn't exactly come off sounding simply like the rantings of someone holding a grudge.  I wrote Saturday that I didn't agree with BC's statements to the Fan590 regarding Bosh, and really, that's the basis of Hedo's latest "sounding off."  His statements really have very little to do with his situation last year, so it's hard to just brush them off as inane ramblings.

However one thing's for certain.

Turk's latest salvo simply adds more fuel to the argument that signing the former Magic swingman was the worst decision in Bryan Colangelo's tenure, if not the worst in the franchise's history.

And this is where the claims of "revisionist history" start to come out; weren't the majority of Raptors' fans pumped to have Hedo in a Raptors' jersey?

If I had to put it to vote, I think one of our previous polls from last summer sums up the breakdown nicely; 65% of readers loved the Hedo acquisition, about 30% hated it, and the remaining 5 or so per cent didn't think it would make a difference one way or another.  I've made my share of incorrect prognostications over the years (Tyrus Thomas as the top pick overall in 96) but much like being adamant in my stance that Portland should have taken Kevin Durant over Greg Odenas you can read here in my 4 AM post-draft thoughts from a few years back, I was dead-set in my opinion that the Turkoglu signing would be big trouble for Toronto.

I ranted and raved against the player one of our readers geniusly dubbed "The Ottoman" before he even came on board with Toronto, and when it became clear that he was being targeted last summer by the Raptors, I wanted to scream.  No other topic have I been more passionate about, not even that the Jose-Roko PG experiment was a disaster waiting to happen.

But, despite my decries and those of others like Kelly Dwyer and John Hollinger, the Big Turk became the Dinos' prized free-agent acquisition.

Nearly a year later, the same prized free-agent acquisition is now a grumpy member of the Phoenix Suns, swapped for Leandro Barbosa without much fanfare.

Just how big of a disaster was Hedo's time in Toronto?

Well, it wasn't good.

For starters, the "box score stats:"

Season A Tm
G GS MP FG FGA FG%
3P% FT FTA FT%
TRB AST STL


PTS

2008-09 29 ORL
77 77 36.6 5.5 13.3 .413

.356 4.1 5.1 .807
             5.3   4.9    0.8


16.8
2009-10 30 TOR
74 69 30.7 3.7 9.1 .409

.374 2.4 3.1 .774

4.6 4.1 0.7


11.3

 

As you can see, we're talking about a player who was down essentially across the board in terms of his stats from the previous season, and his other more complex statistical measuring sticks showed similar declines too -  a drop in PER from almost 15 to 13.3, and a drop in win score from 7.3 to 3.4.

Any way you cut it, this simply wasn't what the Raptors undoubtedly were counting on when they signed him to what even then looked to be an egregious five-year deal.

Even aside from his individual production issues the signing was a disaster.

He showed up to camp out of shape and never really seemed to get it going, he was a PR disaster between the off-court partying and "cell-phone snatching" incidents and on-court situations like his refusal to wear a protective mask despite the Raptors' orders.

Oh, and we can't forget the greatest Raptors' in-game interview of all time:


However the culmination of the failure really was Toronto's performance as a team where despite the high-profile upgrade attempts, the Raptors again missed the big dance, slumping towards the finish line, losing games that Hedo was brought in to help win in the clutch.

A player Bryan Colangelo had brought in to be "clutch" for the team turned out to be so only in his absence from media dealings, and in disruptive outbursts, something he off course continued into this off-season before and after being traded.

I talked to the Raptors' PR folks while in Vegas about Hedo, asking if he had ever been fined for his public "anti-Raptors" rant after the season.  Apparently he had not, but I got the impression that it was because everyone knew he had punched his ticket out of town a long time before so it was really inconsequential at that point.  No matter what BC said in his end-of-season media address regarding making Hedo a more focal point of the offense the following season, you just got the impression that Toronto was trying to run as far away from "The Ottoman" as possible.

And really, while Hedo's "ball" comment was both ridiculous and hysterical at the same time, he did have a point.  I never felt Toronto used Turk to his strengths and for all of Hedo's faults (pylon defense, lack of hustle, fear of contact etc, etc,) a good chunk of discussion on the site last season was surrounding Jay Triano and staff's inability to use the former Magic swingman to the best of his abilities.  There was the Jarrett Jack-Jose Calderon-Turkoglu "too many cooks in the kitchen" experiment, one that our readers labeled "the triangle of death," and many more bizarre decisions regarding his use.  Statistically, while he spent very little time at the spot, Hedo was actually most effective last season playing the power forward position in fact!

If that doesn't speak to the issues with Hedo and his "fit" with the Raptors' line-up, I'm not sure what does.

And finally, in combination with Hedo's fit, and his individual issues, there was the opportunity cost associated in acquiring him that in my books has cemented this transaction as the worst in franchise history.  There weren't a ton of great free-agents on the market last season, and who knows, maybe many had no interest in heading north of the border, but it's hard not to look back and think that throwing Hedo's salary at a Trevor Ariza, or even overpaying for a combination of players like The Birdman and oh, I don't know, Matt Barnes, wouldn't have made more sense.

But yes, as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I'm sure had Bryan Colangelo been equipped with it, or a Flux Capacitor, then the Hedo mistake would never have occurred or have been by now erased from the history books.

To that end I bid Turk good riddance.

Never in franchise history has one player done so much damage and provided so little return on investment in such a short time period.

Hedo's now taken his "ball"-loving ways to the Suns and as of this morning, the "Hedo Contract Counter" has been removed.

At the HQ, we're moving forward from the disaster known as "The Ottoman."

Ok...after we watch this one more time: