What to do with Turkoglu?

In what must be an eerie reminder of the Vince Carter era, another high-priced star seems to be in the process of loafing his way out of Toronto.

To call Hedo Turkoglu's first year in Toronto a disappointment would be like saying there are a few differences of opinion between Democrats and Republicans. It's true -- but it doesn't come close to telling the whole story.

Turkoglu famously chose to sign with the Raptors because he preferred the cosmopolitan "feel" and large Turkish community in Toronto over Portland. He apparently didn't give much consideration to the Raptors' style of play or his role on the team, because he's been unhappy with both from day one. Turkoglu is at his best when he's able to initiate the offense from the wing position -- as he did to great effect during Orlando's run to the Finals last season. But in Toronto, with Jose Calderon quarterbacking the offense, Turkoglu has been relegated to a more traditional small forward's role -- and hasn't been shy about voicing his displeasure with the situation.

The situation got uglier over the weekend, when rumors swirled that Turkoglu -- who missed Friday's game due to "illness" -- was seen out partying.

(Note to Hedo -- when you're making over $9 millon a year, calling in sick so you can hit the clubs is particularly bad form.)

Raptors coach Jay Triano is so desperate to light a fire under his expensive small forward, he's resorted to starting journeyman Antoine Wright and bringing Turkoglu off the bench. Problem is, Turkoglu has all the leverage in the situation -- he's signed through 2013/14, will be making well over $40 million in the next four seasons, and has a lot more job security than his coach.

Toronto fans have already been through the "superstar pouting his way out of town" process with Vince Carter and Alonzo Mourning. It's in everyone's best interest to avoid another similarly ugly scene -- especially when the team is trying to convince Chris Bosh to stick around. But Turkoglu's contract will make him more or less un-tradeable this summer.

Or will it?

Just a thought -- what if the Raptors shipped Turkoglu to New York, as part of a deal involving Eddy Curry's contract (which expires after the 2010-11 season). The Raptors get out from under a long-term obligation. The Knicks get a wing player who would make a lot of sense in Mike D'Antoni's offense, and who would take some of the ball-handing responsibility away from Toney Douglas.

And if it becomes clear that the Raptors will be unable to get Bosh to re-up, the deal could be expanded to include a sign-and-trade involving Bosh and David Lee.

Unlikely? Sure. Too much to give up for a waste of space like Curry? Absolutely. But what's the alternative? Rebuild around Turkoglu, Calderon and Andrea Bargnani after Bosh heads south?

Good luck with that.

Raptor management will be far better off admitting Turkoglu was a bad signing and making whatever deal they can this summer than wasting another season trying to fix the situation.


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