Let Hedo Turkoglu go | Magic Basketball

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Apr 10

Let Hedo Turkoglu go

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Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

He’s old and slow, but that’s not the only reason Hedo Turkoglu should go.

The Orlando Magic are a franchise on the mend after the “put Dwight Howard in the middle and spread the floor with 3-point shooting” experiment ended in recriminations, and finally with Howard getting dealt to Los Angeles. Keeping Hedo around next season would slow the Magic’s stated decision to rebuild, and he’s not exactly the best mentor for the youngsters the Magic possess and are likely to keep acquiring with all the draft picks headed their way.

There are bad contracts and then there are badcontracts, and the Orlando Magic franchise has unfortunately experienced a few of the latter during their brief reign as the NBA’s equivalent of easy money.

No Magic fan can forget Rashard Lewis’s laughable — and possibly PED-influenced — $118 million signing in the summer of 2007. Or the swap of that contract for Gilbert Arenas. Even though Arenas had been amnestied before the start of last season, the Magic still have to pay him $20.8 million this year and $22.3 million next year! Yeah.

So it’s not very surprising the recent Forbes list of the most overpaid NBA players included two current Magic members.

What was surprising was that one of them was Arron Afflalo: he of the tricky name spelling (autocorrect keeps changing it to aflame — which is a cool NBA Jam moniker, but not his actual surname) and the uncharitable distinction as the lone, borderline-marquee player to come to Orlando in exchange for Dwight Howard. We now know that Orlando got a lot more talent than expected in that deal, but it didn’t feel that way at the time.

We could ramble on about how Afflalo is a strong rotation player, but out of his element in the go-to scoring role he inherited by default this year in Orlando. That’s the primary reason his shooting percentages are low in comparison to an efficient 2011-12 campaign in Denver. Plus, Evan Dunlap over at Orlando Pinstriped Post already went through how Afflalo’s been overworked this year on a roster with a paucity of NBA-level talent.

No, instead we’re going to implore the Magic to bite the bullet and and save us the queasy feeling that we just flushed $12 million down the drain — this coming while tens of millions are still owed to Arenas, despite it not counting against the cap.

Hedo is scheduled to make $12 million next season, with $6 million of it guaranteed. That means the Magic brain trust, led by general manager Rob Hennigan, will have to decide whether to waive him and eat the $6 million guaranteed, or keep him and pay double that amount.

That’s an easy proposition from where we’re sitting. If Hennigan is going to follow Scott Presti’s example — his mentor — in Oklahoma City, they have to get rid of Turk to make way for a younger team.

The problem with Hedo staying is the osmosis of apathy. This occurs when younger players are surrounded by less-than stellar examples for the way to behave in the NBA. Think of the anti-Kevin Garnett or simply an older Michael Beasley. The Magic are the sixth-youngest team in the league this year, and they’re likely to get even younger when they trim the fat on the roster and acquire talent the Sam Presti way: in the draft.

Hedo, for all his nimbleness as a perimeter-oriented point forward and lauded late-game shooter, isn’t a gym rat, and would rather eat some pizza before a game rather than visualize what he’s going to do or go back over the scouting report on the opponent.

After signing his big deal in the summer of 2009 and going to Toronto, Turk showed up completely out of shape and basically mailed in his entire troubled year north of the border. Colangelo and Co. traded him to Phoenix the very next season, and then Orlando brought him back in an effort to get rid of Vince Carter.

Now, here we are, with a lone — partially non-guaranteed — year remaining on Hedo’s inflated deal from four summers ago. That Magic-al run to the NBA Finals in 2009 might as well be antediluvian because this is a new team separated by more than years, but by eras. This has to be a new one.

Bringing Hedo back keeps one foot stuck in that past, and doesn’t allow the cadre of young players to develop. Maybe Hedo’s shooting keeps them in a couple games next year, if he can stay healthy and on the court, but for psychological reasons — not to mention financial — he’s gotta go.

Take care Hedo Turkoglu, we’ll always have 2009.