Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hedo Turkoglu (and maybe some other offseason thoughts)

Some one please tell me that the Blazers aren't courting Hedo Turkoglu. Please tell me all these reports are jokes. Please tell me Kevin Pritchard isn't on a quest to join Matt Millen and Isaiah Thomas in the pantheon of terrible GM's. Basically he's signing Turkoglu because of his name value and ingoring a lot of facts that I thought were pretty undeniable. Here's some of the problems that this move creates...

  1. Hedo is asking for 10 mil/year when his true value is closer to about 5 million. Forget about name recognition. The fact is, you don't overpay for a 30 year old small forward that shoots a bunch of jumpers, plays horrible defense (i'm talking Steve Nash, Kyle Korver territory), gets shut down by athletic swingman, and is better suited for Orlando's offensive system than that of other teams. Look, there's no denying the fact that Hedo presents matchup problems because of his size, ball-handling, and shooting, but (especially in this economy) there's no way you can justify spending 10 mil on a hobo's version of the pre-mvp Dirk Nowitzki.
  2. Portland already has a logjam at the small forward position. Nicolas Batum, Travis Outlaw, and Martell Webster are all younger and cheaper than Hedo. When you factor in the amount that Batum will probably improve (he's only 20 years old and supremely gifted), that trio will probably give you 90% of the production that you will get by adding Hedo, but at about 40% of the cost. It doesn't take a math phd to see where this is going. Now with Hedo, what the hell happens? If you start Hedo, then Batum becomes absolutely useless. His defensive skills make him the ideal swingman to start with B-roy, but his developing offensive game make him useless coming off the bench. So you've basically instead of combining Hedo's production with the rest of the Blazers 3's, you've replaced Batum with Hedo. Considering Hedo's defensive defficiencies and Batum's amazing capabilities on that end of the floor, I'd say that while Hedo is more productive in the short term, he's not nearly as much of an upgrade over Batum as people think (certainly not enough to justify the 9 million dollar difference in annual salaries between the two player). If you don't like that, then maybe you start Batum, bring Hedo off the bench, and use Hedo in all the crunch time situations. The problem here is that Travis Outlaw, an explosive scorer, versatile bench player, and 6th-man of the year type of talent, becomes completely useless. Again, you've basically spent 50 mil to upgrade from Travis to Hedo, which isn't that much of an upgrade (and nowhere near big enough when you consider that Travis makes 40% of what Hedo will make). Furthermore, I am completely fine with the Blazers small forwards, and I bet most Blazers fans are also. So what if Hedo is a better offensive player than Batum? If you told me that I could either have the Blazers keep Batum and not sign Hedo, or if they could sign Hedo and make Batum disappear (thus removing the logjam), I'd honestly prefer the first option. So what if Hedo is better offensive and can create his own shot/run the offense (something Batum probably will never be able to do)? I'd prefer Batum is a much better fit for what the Blazers do: His killer D helps mask B-Roy's defensive limitations, and he is great at playing off Roy/Aldrige by hitting open 3's, finishing in transition, and grabbing boards. Let me put it this way: Hedo brings more firepower than Trevor Ariza. But even if the salaries matched up, do you think the Lakers would trade Hedo for Ariza straight up? No way. And trust me, Batum will be as good as Ariza, if not this coming season, then eventually.
  3. As I mentioned in the last part of my previous point, Hedo isn't a great fit for this team in terms of X's and O's. In Orlando Turkoglu played the point-forward, and the offense always moved through him. That won't happen in Portland: He's the 3rd option behind B-Roy and Aldrige. He's not great at playing off the ball, so his offense isn't quite as good in Portland's offense. Meanwhile, his major defensive issues will get magnified because Portland plays such a slow pace. Hedo has much more value with the Magic than he does with the Blazers. When you factor that in, it's not all that much of an upgrade to replace the batum/outlaw combo with Hedo.
  4. Here's the best analogy that I can think of: Remember in the summer of 2006, when the Bulls splurged a shitload of money on Ben Wallace? Despite the fact that the Bulls already had a younger, cheaper version of Wallace (Tyson Chandler), and the fact that they gave him about 5 million more than anyone else was going to give him (and about 10 million more than he was worth), and the fact that Wallace made the Bulls better in the areas where they DIDN'T need improvement (defense, rebounding, and energy) and intensified their weaknesses (half-court offense, specifically a lack of a low-post player and tendency to shoot jumpers), everyone praised the move because Ben was supposed to be the veteran presence that would put the young bulls over the top. Chicago fans, tell me how that one turned out?Well, it's time for everyone to meet the 2009 version of Ben Wallace: Hedo Turkoglu!!!!!!!!!! The only positive that I can think of is this: In four years Hedo's expiring contract will be really valuable. Of course, this isn't going to make anyone other than Bill Simmons happy.

On a related note, how the hell did Kevin Pritchard go from being one of the best GM's to one of the worst GM's in the span of just one season? It's absolutely mind blowing. First he didn't use Raef Lafrentz's huge expiring contract to acquire a blue chipper. In this economy, Raef Lafrentz's rotting corpse is about as valuable as a borderline all-star because of the cap-relief that his contract provides when it expires. Pritchard could've picked up a swingman like Gerald Wallace or Richard Jefferson (unlike Hedo, these guys actually are good fits because they do the same things as Batum but are obviously much better at it) or they could've used it to get Kirk Hinrich on the cheap. Instead he kept Raef's rotting corpse so that the Blazers could have cap room. One problem: This free agent class is even weaker than the draft. Of course, keeping Raef would've been at least a partially defensible move if Pritchard had used the cap space created by the expiration of Raef's contract to get a good player or two that would fill some of the Blazers holes at a reasonable price. Instead, he splurged all that newfound cap space on the most overrated free agent in a weak group (if you made it this far into the post and you can't figure out who I'm referring to then you should really have your brain checked out). Chris Wallace, Kevin McHale, David Kahn, Isaiah Thomas, Josh McDaniels, Matt Millen, and all the other lousy personnel men are probably sending Kevin congragulatory emails praising his latest move. Daniel Snyder and George Steinbreinner, two guys known for overspending on big-name free agents that aren't actually great fits for their teams, are probably as proud of Pritchard as they would be if one of his children discovered a cure for cancer. I, however, will not give Pritchard a pass simply because of some of his brilliant moves of the past. Facts are facts, and the way I see it this is a terrible move that we should never let Pritchard live down.

Here are my other offseason thoughts

  • The Spurs and Magic got amazing deals. Getting Richard Jefferson for 3 scrubs really improves the Spurs to the point where they can really compete with the Lakers over a 7 game series (something that they wouldn't have been able to do last year, even if they had been healthy). R-jeff isn't a franchise player, but he will flourish as the Spurs 4th option. Meanwhile, the Magic basically gave up their 6th man and a bunch of spare parts to get an all-star (as much as I hate his tendency to settle for jumpers, he still is an all-star caliber player when he doesn't mail it in. As he showed when he got traded to the Nets, once Vince gets a change of scenery, he is capable of playing hard for a year). Even if Turkoglu leaves, the Magic just slide in Pietrus. That way they've lost some depth, but they lose nothing on offense (vince does much more than compensate for the difference between Hedo and Pietrus), and they get much better defensively by going from Hedo to Pietrus. Also it should be noted that they also got Ryan Anderson, an underrated young power forward who will thrive next to Dwight Howard.
  • I guess the Pistons think Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are their saviors. Never mind the fact that both of them are simply jump-shooters who are incredibly soft on defense. These two are good offensive players, but if Air Gordon and Villanueva are your top two, then your ceiling is 2nd round and out (and thats if all the stars align. every last one).
  • If the Celtics get Ariza and Rasheed Wallace then lets just give them the title. 'Sheed is a shell of his former self, but he's still a very valuable contributor in the right environment. Ariza will be for the Celtics everything that James Posey was and that Tony Allen will never ever ever be.
  • Love the Zach Randolph-Quentin Richardson swap. Both players go from basketball hell....to basketball hell!!!!!!!!!!! At the very least I like this move wayyyyyyyyy more than I like Portland's decision to target Hedo Turkoglu.

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