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!  

 

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.