Denton: Turkoglu's Magic Tenure Officially Ends
By John Denton
Jan. 3, 2014
ORLANDO – When he was last a part of the Magic’s active roster last season, Hedo Turkoglu had one request for the way that he’s remembered in Orlando. Simply, he hoped that fans would remember the giddy, feel-good times over the not-so-pleasant ones over the final two seasons.
``I’m happy I got to be a part of some of the great, great moments here in Orlando and no one can ever change history,’’ Turkoglu said last April. ``Those moments will always be there for me, and I’ll always consider myself a lucky guy.’’
Turkoglu’s time with the Magic technically ended months ago, but his ties to the Magic officially came to an end on Friday when he was waived by the club, GM Rob Hennigan said in a release. The final year of Turkoglu’s contract became fully guaranteed on Jan. 10 and waiving him now ensured the Magic of a substantial savings.
Turkoglu, 34, and the Magic agreed over the summer that he didn’t fit into the team’s youth movement and he didn’t join the squad for training camp, the preseason or the regular season. The Magic kept him on the roster hoping to use his expiring contract as a piece in a potential trade, but one never materialized.
Like Turkoglu, Magic veteran point guard Jameer Nelson hopes that the once lethal point-forward will be remembered for all of the good that he did while wearing Orlando pinstripes.
``We have great fans and I don’t expect anything but the best from our fans. Even with this, Turk had a lot more good moments than what people say were bad moments,’’ said Nelson, who played with Turkoglu for eight seasons. ``Not even that these last few moments were bad. He just came in and tried to fit in (last season), but his role was different. Things changed, but Turk was great for us for a long time.’’
So ends Turkoglu’s nine-year run with the Magic over two drastically different stints. He signed a free-agent contract with Orlando in July of 2004 and was a dominant player for the franchise for the next five seasons. He won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 2008 and was one of the driving forces on the 2009 Magic team that won the East and reached the NBA Finals. He played arguably the best game of his career in Game 7 in Boston during the 2009 playoffs when he contributed 25 points and 15 assists in a stirring Magic victory.
``He has to go down as one of the best players in franchise history. No doubt about it, when we had that nice run as a team, he was a big part of it if not one of the biggest parts,’’ Nelson said. ``He was a matchup problem for every team being this 6-foot-10 guy who ran the point-forward. I could get off the ball and let him do his thing and he put us in a lot of good positions.’’
Turkoglu left the Magic in July of 2009 to sign a $52 million free-agent deal with the Toronto Raptors. He lasted just one season there before he requested a trade and was dealt to the Phoenix Suns. Turkoglu was reacquired by the Magic on Dec. 18, 2010 along with Jason Richardson and Earl Clark. However, Turkoglu’s effectiveness and production tailed off immensely in his second stint with the team. And he bottomed out last season when he broke his thumb in the second game of the season and was suspended by the NBA for taking a banned substance. Turkoglu played just 11 games last season, averaging only 2.9 points per game – a sad end to an otherwise glorious career with the Magic.
Turkoglu averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in his 497-game career with the Magic. Over the team’s 25-year history, Turkoglu ranks sixth in games played (497), fourth in minutes played (16,234), sixth in points (7,198), seventh in field goals made (2,510), third in 3-pointers made (794), sixth in free throws made (1,402), fifth in rebounds (2,221), sixth in assists (1,927) and ninth in steals (425). He also had the most triple-doubles in franchise history with three.
Turkoglu has remained in Orlando and has said that Central Florida will continue to be his home long after he’s finished playing basketball. After he clears waivers, the 13-year NBA veteran hopes to hook on with a team and make another run through the playoffs.
Nelson said he’s kept in contact with his longtime teammate and he misses the camaraderie the two shared for years on and off the court. Nelson said he’ll never have anything but great memories of his time with Turkoglu, and he hopes that Magic fans share his feelings.
``I miss Turk a ton. He’s one of the guys that I will always miss,’’ said Nelson, who used to playfully joke with Turkoglu about his broken English. ``We still stay in contact. As an elder in the NBA, you don’t develop too many friends and I look at Turk as one of my friends. He always had my back and has given me great advice on and off the court. He was one of the guys that I looked up to as a younger guy. I’ll always have great memories of Turk.’’