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Numbers Game: Raptors Get Turkoglu, So Much More

Scott Cullen
7/9/2009 3:03:12 PM
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After making a bold move upon the opening of the free agent season, the Toronto Raptors further enhanced their position by swinging a four-team deal that brought in a couple of wings while, more importantly, creating salary cap space.

Numbers Game looks at the Raptors' acquisition of Hedo Turkoglu and the move to sign-and-trade Shawn Marion to Dallas.

The Raptors Get: SF Hedo Turkoglu, SG Antoine Wright and SF Devean George.

Turloglu, 30, is an entirely different option on the wing than what the Raptors have had at their disposal in recent seasons.  His ballhandling skills combined with a 6-foot-10 frame allows him to create his own shot and his length makes him a difficult matchup for opposing wing players.

Additionally, Turkoglu sees the floor extremely well and, because he often has the ball in his hands to create, Turkoglu can be an effective point-forward, averaging 4.9 assists per game over the last two seasons.

While that is all true, it's also worth noting that Turkoglu's numbers dipped in 2008-2009 following his career-best campaign in 2007-2008 and his .413 field goal percentage and .356 three-point percentage were his lowest marks in five years with the Orlando Magic.

Though he's not particularly agile, Turkoglu has at least been somewhat effective defensively against his counterpart small forwards with Cleveland (LeBron James) and Houston (Ron Artest) the only teams that allowed less production from small forwards than Orlando. 

Obviously, this was due in no small part to having Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard protecting the rim and this stat shouldn't be construed to mean that Turkoglu is some kind of shutdown perimeter defender, but he's not necessarily a disaster in that respect either.

Signed for five years and $53-million, Turkoglu is going to be expected to be a leader for the Raptors as his presence should limit the tendency for opponents to double-team power forward Chris Bosh and Turkoglu's ability to get his own shot will also make him an asset at crunch time, when the Raptors don't really have a truly established go-to guy.

Turkoglu's arrival will ideally help convince Bosh to stay in Toronto long-term, but there is also the possibility that Turkoglu will provide some measure of insurance in the event that Bosh leaves.  It's not like Turkoglu is of Bosh's overall calibre, but Turkoglu could be a serviceable second option alongside Andrea Bargnani, provided Bargnani continues the development he showed in his third NBA season.

By the end of this contract, it seems quite likely that Turkoglu will be overpaid, but if he can give three or even four years as a productive starter, that could make the investment worthwhile.

25-year-old Antoine Wright started 53 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season, effectively in the type of placeholder role that may be required of him in Toronto.

Wright doesn't score much, scoring more than 15 points just five times in 65 games last season, on his way to averaging 7.3 points per game and his .291 career three-point shooting percentage indicates that there's little need to worry about him as a perimeter threat.

What Wright does have going for him is that he's an athletic wing defender and would certainly help the Raptors in that role, focusing his efforts on shutting down opposing shooting guards.  Furthermore, he's going into the final year of his contract, making a cap-friendly $2.11-million.

George, 32, has three championship rings from his days with the Los Angeles Lakers, but his game is in decline.  The muscular 6-foot-8 forward could provide occasional defensive work on the wing, but he's averaged just 3.6 points per game over the past two seasons and, in Toronto, he isn't likely to see the 16 minutes per game he was getting in Big D.

Also on an economical contract, George will make $1.6-million in the final year of his deal.  

The true genius of the this trade from Toronto's perspective, and the reason that GM Bryan Colangelo is to be lauded for it, is that it will allow the Raptors to use their full midlevel exception in the pursuit of additional free agent help. 

If that nets them Carlos Delfino or perhaps some big man help (come on, Rasho!), then there is no doubt that the Raptors should -- should -- be one of the most improved teams in the NBA next season.

The Mavericks Get: SF Shawn Marion, PF Kris Humphries, PF Nathan Jawai and SG Greg Buckner.

Marion, 31, is a versatile forward who will help the Mavericks, though his freakish athleticism will surely have a declining impact on his production now that he's north of 30.

Though he may not be a premier producer any longer, Marion's ability to defend multiple positions can make him very valuable in the Dallas rotation.

Marion played fewer than 36 minutes per game last year, between Miami and Toronto, his lowest total since his rookie season in 1999-2000 and that may be about the right fit for him in Dallas as well. 

At the same time, it won't necessarily be easy for Marion to get more touches.  Even with Jason Kidd distributing the ball, Marion will effectively be moving into the lineup in place of Wright, who was a non-factor offensively, which means at least some of Marion's shots will have to come at the expense of Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki, each of whom averaged more than 15 field goal attempts per game last season.

Once Marion gets the touches, it's also going to be a matter of his finishing.  At one time, he was a decent three-point shooter, however unorthodox.  Since leaving Phoenix, though, Marion is hitting just 21.4% from beyond the arc -- a mark abysmal enough that he's cut his number of attempts to one per game, well down from the four-plus per game he was taking in his glory days with the Suns.

Signing a reported five-year, $39-million contract, Marion doesn't have to be a premier player for the Mavericks.  He only has to be a reasonable facsimile of the energetic rebounder and hustling defender who averaged at least 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 2.0 steals per game for the Suns from 2004-2005 right through to his trade to Miami in 2007-2008.  If those numbers fall to 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 block and 1.5 steals per game, that's still going to be an immediate upgrade on the wing for the Mavericks. 

How long Marion can maintain that kind of production (along with, say, 12-14 points per game), will determine the value of this deal for the Mavericks but, in the short-term, they're a better team with The Matrix.

24-year-old Kris Humphries has been making slow and steady progress in his career, but ended up missing 48 games due to injury, including the final 40 thanks to a fractured shin. 

In limited playing time, Humphries has proven to be a serviceable backup who can score, rebound and even defends well enough in the post, but steadfastly refuses to pass, limiting his overall appeal.

Humphries will earn $3.2-million this season and holds a player option at $3.2-million for 2010-2011 so, barring a stunning development in his game or long-term injury to Dirk Nowitzki, Humphries will likely accept that option since he figures to only be playing 10 minutes or so per game for the Mavericks.

Buckner, 32, will be in his third stint with the Mavericks, having started his career in Dallas (1999-2002) and then playing a carer-high 76 games for the Mavs in 2006-2007.

Never much of an offensive performer, Buckner managed a career-low 2.5 points per game in Memphis last season and wasn't particularly adept defensively in limited action.

Barring injuries, he doesn't figure to be part of the Mavericks' rotation and is making better than $4-million this season, with a player option for 2010-2011, making him expensive practice fodder.

Jawai is a massive (6-foot-10, 280 pounds) specimen, though completely raw, having only taken up basketball when he was 15.  The 22-year-old didn't even manage to play 20 minutes in his entire rookie season with the Raptors, so it's Dallas' willingness to take on his contract, which is a touch over $735,000 next season, that makes his inclusion in the deal work for Toronto.

Though Buckner and Humphries limit the financial flexibility of the Mavericks, the addition of Marion will make Dallas a more likely contender over the next couple of seasons.  They're not at the level of the Spurs or Lakers, but are now right in the next tier of Western Conference powers.

The Grizzlies Get: SG Jerry Stackhouse, a second-round pick from Toronto and $2-million in cash from Dallas.

Stackhouse, 34, is deteriorating physically, playing only ten games last season -- the fifth time in the last six years that he missed more than 20 games -- but that's not a real concern to the Grizzlies, who are going to waive Stackhouse. 

Entering the final year of his contract, Stackhouse is only guaranteed $2-million of his $7.5-million salary and it appears that the Mavericks will be picking up the cost of waiving Stack.  Memphis simply plays the role of facilitator here.

For being helpful in this process, the Grizz get a second-round pick; better than nothing, but mid-second-round picks don't tend to be impact, or even rotation, players.

The Magic Get: $8-million-plus trade exception.

Since the Magic were already losing Turkoglu as a free agent, setting it up as a sign-and-trade deal gives the contending Magic a chance to make a major acquisition next season as they push towards the postseason.

If the trade exception isn't used in another sign-and-trade deal this summer, some of the players who have expiring contract that may be of value to the Magic, with this trade exception, include: C Marcus Camby (L.A. Clippers), C Brad Miller (Chicago), PF Luis Scola (Houston), PF Udonis Haslem (Miami), PF Kurt Thomas (Milwaukee), PG Luke Ridnour (Milwaukee) and SF Kyle Korver (Utah).

With Turkoglu having already decided he was moving on, it's at least a nice benefit for the Magic to have at their disposal.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca




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