Magic, Hedo Turkoglu discussing buyout

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In some ways, Hedo Turkoglu became the face of the Orlando Magic during the 2009 NBA Finals. Dwight Howard was unquestionably Orlando’s top player, but with point guard Jameer Nelson battling injury, Turkoglu became the Magic’s primary ball-handler and leading scorer. All eyes were on him.

After the series, a 4-1 loss to the Lakers, Turkoglu signed a five-year, $52.8 million contract with the Raptors. He spent a disastrous season in Toronto and was so desperate to leave, he agreed to lower the amount of money guaranteed in the final year of his contract as part of a trade to the Suns.

Now, Turkoglu, since traded from Phoenix to Orlando, might soon find himself a free agent thanks to that renegotiation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Turkoglu’s 2013-14 salary is $12 million, but only $6 million of that is guaranteed. ShamSports.com doesn’t list a guarantee date, but all NBA contracts become guaranteed Jan. 10.

The Magic are clearly negotiating with Turkoglu, because they don’t want to pay the full $6 million. In exchange for accepting less money, Turkoglu would get the freedom to join the team of his choosing.

But if I were Turkoglu, I wouldn’t give up a single penny.

Magic have no use for a 34-year-old who played just 11 games last season due to a failed steroid test and injury. They’re rebuilding – maybe even tanking – and Turkoglu just gets in the way of giving minutes to young, developing players, and he’s expensive to boot.

If the Magic can’t negotiate a reduced buyout, perhaps they’ll try to trade Turkoglu to a team trying to reduce its payroll. Orlando could accept a player making about the same salary with a draft pick sweetener, and the team acquiring Turkoglu could waive him, saving the difference between the traded player’s salary and $6 million. For Turkoglu, that scenario would still leave him a free agent – just not as quickly.

But if Turkoglu hopes to land on a contender, it doesn’t really matter if he’s there early in the season. The whole point is to be with that team during the playoffs. A later buyout might limit the number of teams pursuing Turkoglu, but it’s just as likely it allows him to better assess which teams have the best chance of winning big.

If any contender wants Turkoglu next season, he’ll get there one way or another. He shouldn’t sacrifice money in the process.

Robin Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Jae Crowder’s shoe (VIDEO)

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Why did Robin Lopez tie Jae Crowder‘s shoe during Sunday’s Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? We may never know. Perhaps he was just helping the Celtics forward after he tossed him to the ground? Or maybe he’s just doing weird Robin Lopez things?

In any case, Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Crowder’s shoe after it came off during a battle down low early in the third quarter at United Center.

Here’s how it went down.

Via Twitter:

I still have no idea.

Noticeably frustrated, Russell Westbrook gets prickly with reporter after loss to Rockets (VIDEO)

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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets played an ugly game down the stretch on Sunday. The Rockets employed a hack-a-Andre Roberson strategy, while the Thunder played sloppy and often poorly with Russell Westbrook out of the game.

The latter was the subject in question when Oklahoman reporter Berry Tramel spoke with Westbrook and Steven Adams at a postgame press conference following the Game 4 loss, 113-109.

Tramel’s question — whether the Rockets got a boost when Westbrook was off the floor — was directed at Adams, but the Thunder MVP candidate couldn’t let it go.

Snapping at Tramel, Westbrook told him not to split them up.

Via Twitter:

Tramel’s question is legitimate, and one of the overarching themes of this series thus far. Westbrook’s response is pretty far off the mark, but it did tell the story of how he’s feeling going away from Chesapeake Arena down 3-1.

Game 5 is on Tuesday in Houston.

Kevin Love throws full court pass to LeBron James for sweet and-1 bucket (VIDEO)

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Kevin Love and LeBron James were locked in an epic battle with the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Sunday’s Game 4 playoff matchup. Part of that matchup included yet another long, full court pass between the Cleveland Cavaliers duo.

Love, as you might guess, was the passer and LeBron was again the receiver.

The play came in the final minute of the second quarter, with Love nabbing a rebound from the right block and LeBron jetting down the floor.

Love’s pass was perfectly placed, and Paul George just didn’t have the strength to keep him from getting the and-1.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Nene’s 28 lead Rockets past Thunder for 3-1 series lead

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Houston.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.

Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder.

Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at the break. He grabbed the 10th rebound in the final second of the second quarter, and the Thunder led 58-54 at intermission. Meanwhile, Harden made just 2 of 9 shots and scored just six points in the first half.

The Thunder opened the second half with a 10-2 run, but Houston closed to 77-73 at the end of the third quarter.

Adams made the first of two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining to cut Oklahoma City’s deficit to four. He rebounded his missed second free throw and found Westbrook for a 3-pointer that cut Houston’s lead to one point. But the Thunder lost track of Nene on the other end, and he converted a three-point play. Gordon’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds made it a four-point game.

TIP-INS

Rockets: G Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA for confronting a fan after Game 3. The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off.

Thunder: Westbrook had just one turnover in the first half. … Adams went 6 for 6 from the field in the first half. … Westbrook missed all six of his shots in the third quarter.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.