Chisholm: Hedo move stunning but let's see Colangelo's plan

Tim Chisholm

7/4/2009 12:41:55 AM

I'm stunned.
Not because Hedo Turkoglu reneged on his deal with Portland, because all indications are that there was, in fact, no deal agreed upon.

Not because of the amount of money Hedo is being paid, because while it's more than he's worth it's the way the free agent game gets played.

No, I'm stunned because I cannot cultivate a single definitive reason why the Toronto Raptors would make this move.
Let's assume, for a moment, that Shawn Marion was simply not coming back to Toronto. Let's also assume that Carlos Delfino still signs with the team for a percentage of the club's mid-level exception (which is the only money the team can use to sign him with if they renounce his rights, as expected). Let's even go so far as to assume that Bryan Colangelo already has a deal in place to ship Anthony Parker off to another team for a valuable addition to the club's second unit (sign-and-trades are still possible even if a player is renounced). Even if all of that proves true, this move still stuns.
It stuns because acquiring Hedo Turkoglu flies in the face of everything that the team seemed to be doing right to get themselves back on track in the Eastern Conference. They were getting out on the break, they were getting more athletic, they were focusing on defence and grit and they were addressing areas of need in a reasonable and practical manner. Hedo, though, doesn't run the floor, he's supremely unathletic, he's an average defender at best and he introduces a whole host of new problems.
This is a club that employs one of the steadiest point guards in the NBA, but Hedo needs the ball in his hands to be effective, so Jose Calderon is marginalized. Hedo also plays the game almost identically to Andrea Bargnani, occupying the same spots on the floor, and that will not only create redundancy on the roster, it will also stagnate Bargnani's growth. Hedo is also just an average rebounder for a small forward, which would be fine if this team didn't need an elite rebounder at the spot to make up for Bargnani's perimeter-based play. There is so much redundancy on this roster now it's like the club has managed to combine the most awkward elements of the Jermaine O'Neal AND Jason Kapono acquisitions into one. You get the financial hit of O'Neal with the redundancy of Kapono - two-for-one!

However, there has to be more to this story. If this is the first move of the summer, then moves two, three and four have to already be in motion. The Raptors, even if they renounce Marion and Anthony Parker, can still sign-and-trade them. They'll need to, too, since the club has used up all of its cap space and now has to get creative to eat into the space between the cap and the luxury tax (which is all that they have left to play with now). This team still has lots of holes to fill – starting shooting guard, backup combo guard, backup small forward, backup centre – and one has to assume that GM Bryan Colangelo had an eye towards resolving these issues before he committed more than $50-million to Turkoglu. After the disastrous attempts to fill out the roster on the cheap after the O'Neal trade (Hassan Adams, Will Solomon, Jake Voshkul), and the subsequent beating that group took, there is no way Colangelo is going to do that all over again. There is a plan in place - this summer is simply too important to the future of the Raptors franchise for there not to be - the $64,000 question now becomes what that plan is.

For now though, there is only that stunned feeling that we've been here before, that the team is once again miscasting the role of 'second-star' that they've been trying to get right since Tracy McGrady bolted town. Three years ago, Colangelo rode into Toronto hailed as a visionary architect, and while his current blueprint seems to be of little practical merit, it's so audacious he has to be given the chance to see it through – if for no other reason than to see how the rest of the building is built. It's sure to be stunning.