Believe it or not, Hedo Turkoglu could actually be worse next season

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turkoglu_game.jpgTo begin: it’s not Hedo Turkoglu’s fault that he was overvalued on the free agent market. He’s not to blame for the fact that the Trailblazers and the Raptors wanted to pay him oodles of money to do what he does.

Now, what is Hedo’s fault is just how poorly he’s played. Some of that is a matter of talent and skill, which makes painfully apparent the fact that Turkoglu really isn’t that great of a player. A fine, serviceable player, sure, but one with inflated value by an Orlando system that put the ball in his hands an incredible amount of the time. Even then, his shooting touch is good not great, his passing skills decent but not terribly impressive, his defense slightly above average on his more motivated days.

Then some of his problems are psychological. He’ll park along the perimeter on possession after possession. He makes a half-assed attempt to cover a pick-and roll. He goes out drinking with old pal Mehmet Okur when he’s supposedly recovering from a stomach illness, and sits out of practice the next day. He refuses the advice of team doctors, and didn’t wear a protective mask until ordered to do so by the team.

You know what? All of that is because Hedo Turkoglu is Hedo Turkoglu. He may not have always been this much of a caricature of himself, but the Raptors are getting what they signed.

The surprising thing is that for as badly as Hedo has played this season, things could actually get worse, and likely will next year. From Tania Ganguli of the Orlando Sentinel:

You’ll recall the Magic used to have a guy named Hedo Turkoglu. The
Turkish forward, now with the Toronto Raptors,  spent so much time
playing, even outside the NBA season, it wore on his body, [Otis] Smith said.

“They play more basketball and they never stop,” Smith said of
European players. “When I had Turk it was hard. They never get a break.
He played 7 years straight before he missed his first Turkish
basketball. He gets no rest. We rested him, I think Toronto rested him
this year. But your body gets no rest.”

So this season, in which Turkoglu generally looked uninspired and out of shape, will be followed by Hedo’s off-season commitments to the Turkish national team. Then he’ll return to training camp, the preseason and the NBA grind, and the Raptors can only hope that Otis Smith’s comments don’t serve as an omen. If this is the rested Hedo, what can Raps fans reasonably expect from him next season?

It’s a perfect storm for Toronto: Chris Bosh walks, the Raps should have minimal cap space if any, Jay Triano (a decent, though admittedly less than stellar coach) is rumored to be on the outs, the Raps won’t have a first round pick in the draft should they make the playoffs (it’s lottery-protected, but would go to Miami thanks to the Jermaine O’Neal trade), and the nearly unmovable Hedo Turkoglu will set himself up for another letdown campaign. Purchase your 2010-2011 Raptors season tickets, available today!  

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.