Hedo Turkoglu: “I do not want to go back to Toronto”
So there you are, watching Turkish sports television, just like you do every night, when the most hated man in Toronto (well, as much as Canadians can hate anyone) comes on.
Hedo Turkoglu. And the man has clearly had it with Toronto. (J.E. Skeets is everywhere, sees and knows all, and he found the show and a translation for The Basketball Jones.)
Turkoglu has not been a great fit in Toronto. They saw the guy from the playoffs, the guy that had been key in getting the Orlando Magic to the Finals, and they thought they signed that guy. What they got was the regular old Hedo. The one that often just hangs out on the perimeter on offense and can’t defend a pick-and-roll at the other end. He’s a nice player, the Raptors both overpaid and expected too much. His play was about what it was the year before on offense -- his true shooting percentage (points per shot attempt) and just about everything in terms of rebounds and assists per possession used were about the same. He had the ball in his hands less than he did in Orlando (when Jameer Nelson was out) but everything else went to form.
But as frustration with him on the court mounted because he was not meeting expectations. Then came the nightclub incident. In March, Turkoglu missed a game against the Denver Nuggets (a Raptors loss) with a stomach virus, but then was seen out at a Toronto club later that night. The club sat him for a key game against Miami (another loss) and fined him after the incident.
At that point, Raptors fans turned on Hedo, booing him.
Yeah. I’ve been playing in the USA for 10 years and this is the first time I’ve been booed by my own team’s fans. It’s a shocking situation and it made me feel extremely bad after. That was the most embarrassing moment in my life....
After the game, I went back home. Some European teammates called me and said, “Hedo, are you sleeping?” Then they told me where they were hanging out, which is actually 100 meters away from my home. I said, “OK” and when I arrived, all the guys were here. And if you check the camera records, you will see that I left there in 15-20 minutes with Andrea Bargnani. I guarantee it. And if they prove me wrong, I will give back my contract! The day after, the whole controversy erupted....
In fact, these events put me off both basketball and the Raptors organization. Needless to say, the fans started to lose my love. On the other hand, I have always had a good relationship with the fans. Before this incident they were incredibly happy when they saw me around town ... They thanked me a million times for choosing Toronto over other options.
Toronto does not have a lot of options. Turkoglu has four years (three and a player option) left on his deal, starting at $9.8 million next year and going up to $12 million. No other team is going to take that on. Isiah Thomas would think that was too expensive. So what kind of resolution the two sides can reach is unclear, unless Hedo would be willing to walk away from his big payday.
Oh, what a crappy summer this is for Bryan Colangelo. And Raptors fans just get to watch.