Mehmet Okur, the Turkish big man with a soft outside shot but who also could bang inside, has announced his retirement after 10 seasons in the NBA (the last couple marred by injuries).
Sportando had the story from NTV Spor in Turkey.
Mehmet Okur announced his retire from basketball at 33….Okur decided to retire because of the injuries who affected him over the last three seasons of his career.
“I want to thank my family, my coaches, my teammates, the officials who have contributed to my career. And then I want to say Thanks to the fans who always supported me” said Okur to NTVSpor.
Okur was drafted by the Pistons but spent most of his NBA career in Utah. There he had is best years as a stretch four/five with a pretty shot. He averaged as much as 19 points and 7.8 rebounds a game in 2007, which happened to be the year he was named to the All-Star team. While we remember his shot, he could be physical when he needed to be.
Okur also won a ring as a member of the 2004 Detroit Pistons. (I had forgotten about that, too, until I pulled up his career stats. It’s just hard to picture him in a Pistons’ jersey.)
He was trying to land on another NBA team this season but after a couple of years of back injuries and a ruptured Achilles no teams were willing to take a shot at it. Rather than continue to play overseas and deal with injuries (he played in Turkey during the lockout) he has decided to walk away.
Mehmet Okur is still out there as a free agent. He could play a role as a big off the bench for a minimum salary, but the Timberwolves, Nets and others have passed.
You would think at this point Okur would fit better in Europe, but according to a tweet from Spanish basketball writer Paco Rabadan (translated by Hoopshype) that may not be happening either.
Real Madrid has inquired about Okur. They hung up the phone when told about the money (he was asking for).
Okur is not really in position to be demanding a lot of money. He has played 30 games over two seasons fighting off injuries and deteriorating skills. Europe seemed like a better fit, with fewer games and more time between them.
It still may be, because I don’t see an NBA offer coming. But he may need to lower expectations a little on what he’s going to make. Or, there is always his native Turkey.
We were talking with you earlier today about how the Minnesota Timberwolves want to sign one more big man, but they are limited. They would like to bring back Anthony Tolliver but he wants more than the veteran minimum. And Minnesota can’t offer more than that right now.
But they are looking into ways to free up money, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune (hat tip to IamaGM.com).
They’re still asking Anthony Tolliver to remain patient as they explore deals that would allow them to trade a guard and create salary-cap space to sign another player. Right now, they can only offer league-minimum contracts and you know guys like Tolliver and Mehmet Okur are waiting, looking for more than that.
What guards, you ask? Well, we can take a few educated guesses. Off the top we can rule out moving Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy or just-signed Alexey Shved.
That leaves J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour and Malcolm Lee. Barea has three seasons and is owed $14.5 million, which is not an easy deal to move. Ridnour is owned $8.6 million over two years, a deal someone might take for a backup point. Lee is on a minimum deal for the next two seasons.
Minnesota has one roster spot left to use and they want to give it to a big man. Specifically, a big man willing to take a minimum contract.
Which is why a Timberwolves scout was watching Hassan Whiteside and Andray Blatche work out in Houston, something reported by ESPN 1500 out of Minnesota. Both of those guys would take the minimum. Without blinking
They reportedly really like Mehmet Okur but the Turkey native has offers from his home country and is reportedly not settling for the veteran minimum. Minnesota would have to make another trade to free up space for that kind of move.
And if they did that kind of trade, they likely would spend that money on Anthony Tolliver, with whom the team continues to negotiate, according to he report.
So, somebody is going to be sitting in a chair when the music stops and get a job. That chair is at the end of the Timberwolves bench and doesn’t come with much playing time behind Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Andrei Kirilenko and Greg Stiemsma. But it’s a chair and a job, and that’s what these guys want. And they don’t have much leverage on salary.
The Timberwolves have a pretty set front line — Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic will start, with Andrei Kirilenko and Greg Stiemsma behind them. And you can throw Dante Cunningham in the mix if you want.
They may want one more big to round out the roster… but Mehmet Okur? That’s the rumor from Darren Wolfson, the channel 5 sports guy in Minny and contributor to the local ESPN Radio affiliate.
Against the cap, the #Twolves big man options are limited. But they’re kicking around the Okur idea. Tough w/ just the vet minimum to offer.
This probably is not going to happen. I can think of two reasons. One, Okur has options back in his native Turkey that likely pay him better, and there are fewer games and less wear on the oft-injured player there.
Second, does he really fit with Minnesota? At the end of the bench they need a three-point shooting big who doesn’t do a lot else?
But that’s the rumor.