Ha. How about that Hedo Turkoglu? He doesn’t want any part of Toronto, well, that makes two of us. To be more precise, that makes every single one of us except phdsteve, who as we speak, is constructing a detailed rebuild plan with Turkoglu as the starting SF and C. In fact, Steve is seriously considering extending Turkoglu’s contract beyond the 2019-20 season and is also entertaining the idea of bringing him back as a player coach, and eventually replacing an 85 year old Leo Rautins as the color guy.

To sum up Hedo’s story, he was sitting at home donating money to Oxfam when one of his teammates called to see if he could come out for a bit, so he reluctantly took a short walk and chilled for 20 minutes. Management blew this up as him missing the game despite being healthy which got Turkoglu mad because he couldn’t believe the accusations were coming from the actual organization. His lawyer (pictured here) settled the matter with Colangelo and agreed to hush it up, but the next day he got fined and benched against Miami. What’s a millionaire to do?

Before we accuse of MLSE of douchebaggery, let us remember that there are two sides to any story and we’re only getting one of them here. If Turkoglu is right, then Colangelo and his handlers screwed things up, because they’re in no position to start making stands in the middle of the season against a player who is already struggling. If they needed to “enforce” the organizational rules and make Turkoglu understand that they’re serious about discipline, effort and truthfulness, then they would’ve done it from day one and perhaps started off by forcing his ‘fatigued’ butt to play in training camp so he understood that the organization isn’t a pushover who will let their prize off-seasons signing sit out something as important as training camp. Mind you, the lack of this same training camp was cited as the reason why Triano struggled as a coach the year before, which makes Turkoglu’s abscense from it all the more surprising.

It’s becoming quite obvious that there is a huge gulf in communication between the GM, the coach and the player. They’re all getting their signals mixed up to the point that Colangelo was confident at the end of the season that Turkoglu would be back. He said:

“Hedo had a tough year, there’s no way to sugar-coat that, he acknowledged himself, he struggled. I really appreciate the fact that he acknowledged that and not only acknowledged but apologized for some of the things that took place this season. He remains a talented player, he made some progress down the stretch with the relationship with the coach. Perhaps a common ground was met on a few things and perhaps late, we addressed some issues that needed to be addressed. He’s a solid basketball player and can help this team win games. He needs to be more prepared next year to do so. Next year you’ll see a different Hedo Turkoglu”

So here we have Colangelo stating that “common ground” has been met and indicating that the camp is happy, but then you have Hedo Turkoglu coming out and saying the organization sold him out. So which one is it? Is it all just lost in translation or does Colangelo not know how to communicate with his players? Questions also need to be asked of Jay Triano, a huge part of a coach’s job is to develop relationships with the players and it’s clear that he doesn’t have one with Turkoglu, they’re giving each other the silent treatment hoping everything will just work out. What a mess…

Turkoglu publicly stating that he wants out adds another entertaining twist to the off-season, and more importantly, drives his already low market value even further down. No sane Raptors fan would expect much in a Turkoglu trade anyway, but this will definitely hurt as the Raptors will now be seen as needing to trade Turkoglu instead of just casually browsing for options. Although I admire Turkoglu’s skill and still feel that he has a lot to contribute, the pieces around him (including the coach) aren’t fitting well and it’s in everybody’s best interest to part ways. We’ve already seen Colangelo trade fairly newly acquired players in T.J Ford, Jermaine O’Neal and Shawn Marion, so it’s absolutely no surprise that he’ll admit another mistake and ship Turkoglu out. With already Bosh to deal with, he’ll now have to find a salary match for Turkoglu, and given the CBA’s salary-matching rules, pulling two high-salary trades in one summer is very hard. It’s best we start thinking about this now instead of hoping Turkoglu agrees to a 20% buyout.

The best option might be to let Bosh walk without taking on bad contracts and then try and deal Turkoglu. If the Raptors deal with a team under the cap, they wouldn’t have to take back a matching salary and could potentially shed themselves $27M of salary in one summer. Who to spend that money on is another question, but you have to start somewhere. Oh yeah, and we haven’t even touched on Jose Calderon. Yeesh.

This Summit of Four with James, Wade, Bosh and Johnson. If the NBA had any balls whatsoever they’d fine them for collusion, instead they’re totally OK with it. Maybe if they spent less time bumping marginal personal fouls to Flagrant 1s, they’d pay more attention to how four guys are dictating the NBA landscape for years to come. Actually, I shouldn’t say that, only LeBron James is dictating anything. Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson are nice talents but they’re perennial losers who will be playing second and third fiddle for the rest of their careers. I really hope James re-signs in Cleveland and the Cavs acquire Stoudemire, this would leave Bosh and Johnson to “pair up” which would mean they’d be exiting the playoffs in the second round for the next 6 years.

Dwayne Wade is a different case, he’s the second-best player among these four but is so injury prone that you don’t know what you’re getting with him. He’s been kicked out of the playoffs in the first round three of the last four years and didn’t make the post-season the other year. Suffice to say, he needs somebody to play with, preferably a defensive big man and an inside force, neither of which Bosh is. There are no short cuts to contention, the C**tics pulled it off but they had a solid supporting cast that played hard from tip-off to final buzzer. If any of these three think that forming a coalition will yield them rings, they’re sadly mistaken. All it’ll do is clog the team’s salary cap, leaving little for anyone else and they’ll exit early from the playoffs for year’s to come.

As for the Raptors, it all comes down to what our target window of contention should be. With the turmoil surrounding our free-agents, it’s looking more and more difficult to see it happening as early as next season. Colangelo needs to find his inner veracity and admit that applying bandaids isn’t going to work, it’s like trying to clog the oil leak with Manute Bol. Perhaps it wiser to aim to get back into the playoffs in 2011-12 with a more developed core including a couple years of experience for the guy we’re about to draft. At least we have options, I think.

For every hat you buy, phdsteve will buy a Turkoglu jersey.

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