No sympathy for Turkoglu in Toronto

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It’s really not hard to follow the line of thinking: Hedo Turkoglu was the big off-season acquisition for Toronto; Toronto has had a horrible season that is crumbling right as the playoffs start; ergo, Turkoglu the problem

Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It’s easy logic, and we like easy.

So when Turkoglu had to come out of the game Wednesday at half with what is being called a stomach virus, an entire city wasn’t sold. When he had to leave practice today partway through because of that same illness, there is no sympathy. Michael Grange of the Toronto Globe and Mail sums up the mood:

The problem with Turkoglu leaving the game at halftime with an upset stomach is that he’s got no track record of leaving it all on the floor, so to speak. From his training camp sabbatical to his sore hip to his sore knee to his sore ankle and now his sore tummy, if Turkoglu ain’t right, Turkoglu ain’t going….

But the real issue is this: Is there one person who – upon hearing Turkoglu wasn’t coming back after the half – didn’t roll their eyes?

The thing is Turkoglu’s shooting numbers this year are almost identical to last year — he’s even better from three. He’s just shooting a lot less. Nearly four shots a game. That’s about the system, that’s about teammates who need him to create less than in Orlando (after Jameer Nelson went down), it’s about a lot of things.

But the problem in Toronto is all about the defense. Turkoglu is not helping there, but again this is a system and team issue.

Defense in the NBA is as much about desire as it is skill (everybody is an athlete at this level, even Brad Miller). You have to want to defend. Was Boston any good at it before Garnett brought the passion? And north of the border Turkoglu is not bringing the passion, the desire. But he never was going to. He never has on that end.

Do paraphrase Dennis Green, Hedo Turkoglu is who we thought he was. Expecting something else was the mistake. That’s the real line of logic.

Report: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer urged Danny Ferry to resign

Danny Ferry, Mike Budenholzer
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When Danny Ferry’s racism scandal came to light, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer publicly supported his general manager. Budenholzer called the “African” remarks about Luol Deng “very much out of character” and said Ferry was trying to learn from his mistakes.

And while Budenholzer might not have done anything privately to contradict his public statements, his tone apparently differed with Ferry and then-owner Bruce Levenson last fall.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Budenholzer very much owed his job to Ferry. His former Spurs colleague had pleaded with Levenson that the Gregg Popovich assistant was the man for the position. Yet Budenholzer felt Ferry should resign, lest the Hawks be subsumed in disruption when training camp opened, and he made his wishes known in a heartfelt conversation with Ferry and Levenson at that time.

In some respect, Budenholzer was just doing his job as coaching – trying to maximize his teams chances of on-court success. Ferry didn’t resign. He took a leave of absence that lasted until he agreed to a buyout this summer. That was apparently enough to avoid a paralyzing distraction. The Hawks won 60 games and reached their first conference finals since moving to Atlanta.

Ferry’s departure also significantly benefitted Budenholzer personally. Budenholzer ran the Hawks’ front office during Ferry’s leave, and the new owners have installed him as the teams permanent president.

The only other four active coaches with personnel control experienced much more success before getting the dual president/coach title.

Gregg Popovich coached the Spurs to four championships and 11 playoff berths before they named him president in 2008. Doc Rivers won Coach of the Year with the Magic and then guided the Celtics to a title during his 14 seasons before the Clippers plucked him to run their franchise. Stan Van Gundy steered the Heat and Magic to the playoffs in all seven of his full seasons, including a trip to the 2009 NBA Finals with Orlando, before getting hired by the Pistons. Flip Saunders won more games than every other Timberwolves coach combined, is responsible for every playoff win in franchise history and made four trips to the conference finals (including thrice with the Pistons) over 16 total seasons before Minnesota gave him the huge role.

Budenholzer has been a head coach just two seasons, including a 38-44 debut year. He has done a good job, winning Coach of the Year last season, and he might make a good team president.

But he lacks the track record most coaches need to gain such status. Budenholzer, more than anything, was at the right place at the right time.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.