Blazers To Pursue Hedo Turkoglu In Free Agency
The Trail Blazers’ summer agenda was revealed late Tuesday night at the minute the free agent market opened. That’s when general manager Kevin Pritchard and assistant general manager Tom Penn called agent Lon Babby to begin the courtship of small forward Hedo Turkoglu.
“Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn called me at the earliest possible moment and expressed enthusiasm for engaging in discussions about Hedo becoming a Trail Blazer,” Babby said late Tuesday night. “We have begun that process.”
Pritchard said he first contacted guard Brandon Roy and forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who both are seeking contract extensions with the Blazers, before inquiring about Turkoglu.
Turkoglu, 30, is a 6-foot-10 shooter who this season helped Orlando reach the NBA Finals. He averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists this season. The nine-year veteran is regarded as a perimeter shooter but is coming off a season when he made just 41.3 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three-point range.
His stock rose dramatically in the playoffs, when he became the go-to player in the Magic’s playoff push. He averaged 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 24 playoff games, shooting 42.7 percent rrom the field and 38.6 percent from three-point range.
Teams were allowed to contact free agents and their represenatives starting at midnight Eastern time, or 9 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday. There is a one-week moratorium on signings, with July 8 being the first day players can sign.
The Blazers entered the free agent market as one of the major players, being one of five teams that expect to be under the league’s salary cap, which will be set on July 7. The Blazers payroll is at $50 million, which is expected to be around $8 million under the cap. The Blazers also have the ability to free up $1.7 million in additional cap room by renouncing the rights to former first-round picks Petteri Koponen and Joel Freeland, both of whom are playing overseas.
Babby said the Blazers were one of three teams that inquired about Turkoglu’s services, but that “the calls were still coming in.” It appeared the Blazers’ ability to get their call in first made an impression.
“They were enthusiastic and well received by us,” Babby said. “We are engaged in the process. We will see where that takes us in the next couple of days and take it from there.”
Turkoglu is from Turkey and began his NBA career in 2000-2001 in Sacramento, where he played four seasons. He spent the past five seasons in Orlando, with his best season coming in 2007-2008, when he was selected the NBA’s most improved player after averaging 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists.