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Art Garcia

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Hedo Turkoglu (right) is gradually adjusting to the offense with Toronto.
Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

Summer of indecision far from Turkoglu's mind


Posted Nov 11 2009 11:39AM

Hedo Turkoglu knows a lot of feelings were hurt in the Pacific Northwest back in July. After agreeing on a free-agent deal with Portland, he backed out and signed in Toronto.

Citing his family and the international makeup of Canada's largest city, including a large Turkish population, Turkoglu reversed ground. He hasn't looked in the rearview mirror since.

"I never look back on anything I did in my life, good or bad decisions," he said. "This was my decision and I have to deal with what happened. I made my decision and I'm happy about it. I just have to focus and keep doing my best."

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The Blazers offered Turkoglu a reported $50 million over five years, plus a spot on an up-and-coming team with a need for a ball-handling big. Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard thought he found the missing piece, zeroing in on one of the stars of Orlando's run to the Finals.

Turkoglu liked what he heard, agreeing to the deal one day and having second thoughts the next. He pocketed about $3 million more with Toronto.

"I didn't do it on purpose," he said. "I appreciate all the hospitality they gave to me, it would have been nice [to go to Portland], but in the end I had to move on with my life and make the best decision for me and my family and basketball-wise. I have to continue doing what I've been doing and hopefully this will be the best situation."

The change of heart forced the Blazers to change their plan of attack. After looking into New York's David Lee and striking out on an offer sheet with Utah's Paul Millsap, Portland landed Philadelphia free-agent point guard Andre Miller.

Turkoglu doesn't wonder what if. He doesn't look up Blazers' box scores any more than previous stops Sacramento, San Antonio and Orlando. Portland is just another team on the schedule. Turkoglu won't have to face the Portland boo birds until March 14.

"I will watch when we play against them," he said. "Other than that it's part of the business right now. I can't look back and wish I was there or wish I could go somewhere else. The situation came out in the best way for me. I had to make a decision, so hopefully this is going to be a much better situation for me."

Turkoglu is becoming more comfortable in Jay Triano's system, though the Raptors, off to a 3-4 start, are in the midst of a brutal stretch of seven of their next eight games on the road. The 6-foot-10 point forward is averaging 15 points, 4.3 boards and 3.3 assists a game and shooting a respectable 49.3 percent, including 39.3 percent beyond the arc.

"The more familiar he becomes with all his teammates, the better he's going to be," said Triano, in his first full season as the Raptors' coach and eighth in the organization. "The first couple of games, he was throwing the ball out of bounds when our guys were cutting and they should have been spotting up.

"We're starting to figure out that he will get you the basketball and that he has an ability to score. Every game we've played, he's been a little more comfortable with it."

Turkoglu is filling essentially the sale role he did with Magic. "Why would we use him differently?" Triano asked. Orlando and Toronto both love spacing the floor by shooting the long ball. The main difference, besides the Magic's status as a contender, is Dwight Howard is a low-post beast, while Chris Bosh is more an inside-outside threat.

Getting a feel for those differences is Turkoglu's focus now. Not what happened in July.

"It's still going to take time to get adjusted to what people are doing," he said. "I'm going to do my best no matter what when I'm in the court. So far, I'm just trying to play my game."

Physical vs. mental mistakes

Coaches can deal with physical miscues better than brain hiccups, but some situations seem to blur the line. Take the Mavericks' trip to New Orleans last week.

Dallas was up three with less than 10 seconds left and had three straight free throws coming up. Jason Terry missed a technical and J.J. Barea followed with two rim rattlers that wouldn't fall.

So was it a lack of concentration or technique? Physical or mental mistake?

"I guess it's a little bit of both," Barea said. "It's bad luck. To miss three shots like that is incredible."

Hornets sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic tied the score with a 3-pointer and New Orleans went on to win in overtime. Now if the situation ever games up again, Barea offered up a new strategy.

"If we had to do it over again, I would have told Jet that I'll shoot all three," he said. "I would have shot the tech and then two more. No way I'm missing three."

That works for Dallas coach Rick Carlisle: "Sounds good to me. That's something that now, looking at it in hindsight, it would make some sense."

Put some mustard on it

Gilbert Arenas wasn't sure how to handle Sunday's 1 p.m. tipoff, so he took the Mark Sanchez route out of necessity and a growling stomach.

The early start for the Suns' visit to Washington earlier this week screwed up his routine, leaving the former All-Star famished during the game. Agent Zero usually eats at 3 p.m. on game days, four hours before most tipoffs.

His solution Sunday? Arenas scarfed down two hot dogs in the third quarter. No word if Flip Saunders scolded him for disrespecting the game, as the New York Jets did Sanchez, but Arenas couldn't be pleased with the results.

The Wizards lost by 12, and he shot 7-for-22, with four turnovers to only five assists.

Quotable

"My name is Earl, so I figured, why not?"
-- The shooting guard formerly known as J.R. Smith on reverting to using his given name.

Starting 5

1. Nothing like All-Star voting two weeks into the season. Why not start Race to the MVP the first week of November? Oh.

2. Dwight Howard gets docked 15 grand for blogging about the refs. He fouled out in 16 minutes. Let the man blog off some steam.

3. My Name is Earl used to be must-see TV. Not so funny anymore ... no offense, Jason Lee. J.R., err, Earl Smith III is a TiVo must every time he plays.

4. So if Shaq and Agent Zero both make the East All-Star squad, will they fist pump or fist fight?

5. Tracy McGrady hasn't had this much trouble getting a date since 1990.

Give-n-Go: Trevor Ariza

AG: You're on the All-Star ballot for the first time.

TA: It's cool, but it doesn't really matter to me. The only thing that matters is winning.

AG: You guys are off to a pretty good start.

TA: We've been sharing the ball and playing together, doing things that successful teams do.

AG: Does it mean something to be recognized as one of the better players in the West?

TA: I'm happy that my hard work is paying off. I want to be on the team, but if I don't make it I'm not going to cry or complain.

Art Garcia has covered the NBA since 1999. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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