Ball Don't Lie - NBA


30. 

31, by the time the playoffs start next season.

Portland? By the time the playoffs start in 2010?

Brandon Roy(notes), 25. LaMarcus Aldridge(notes), 24. Rudy Fernandez(notes), 25. Greg Oden(notes), 22. Travis Outlaw(notes), 25.

And when those players are in their primes? 2014 or so? Hedo's going to be well past his, at age 35. And this was a guy who was made to already look old and slow up against Trevor Ariza(notes) in this year's Finals.

So why, exactly, is Portland throwing its free agent booty at Hedo?

What am I missing here? The team was, statistically, the best offensive team in the NBA last year. Possession to possession, nobody scored more. Defense is this team's weakness, so they're spending all sorts of dough on a defensive liability?

The team, for years, has been one of the better closing squads in the NBA. They don't make a lot of comebacks, not with Nate McMillan's snail-slow pace, but with Travis Outlaw and Brandon Roy in the fold, they do just about lead the league in game-cinchers in the last 90 seconds. Statheads can talk about Carmelo Anthony(notes), TV talking heads can talk up Kobe Bryant(notes), but no team is better in the clutch than the Portland Trail Blazers.

And they're trying to add a guy who made his hay as a late-game finisher? Read that again. His value is inflated because of his late-game heroics. The team would be overpaying for something it already has in spades.

What is wrong with this picture? Why are they adding a player who is past his prime (Hedo's numbers dropped across the board in 2008-09, after hitting an NBA players' typical career-best at age 29, in 2007-08) to a team full of players that haven't even hit their prime?

Hedo in Orlando, before the Vince Carter(notes) trade, I was cool with. The Magic, save for Dwight Howard(notes) and Jameer Nelson's(notes) presence, had a fair amount of money already invested in players that were as good as they were going to get. So might as well try to win now.

Not that Portland isn't trying to win now, they'll be just fine with a trip to next year's Finals, but is Hedo the guy to put you over the top?

Let's say he turns back the clock next year and sustains his 17-point, five-rebound, five-assist averages. Coupled with poor defense, how does that help? How does 41 percent shooting help when Travis Outlaw - one of the league's more underrated offensive talents - is taking fewer shots, and playing fewer minutes? How does the defense improve with Turkoglu taking Nicholas Batum's minutes? And that's just assuming Hedo's contributions sustain. It could happen, but for someone his age, that's hardly something to bank on.

I don't mean to pick on Jason Quick, who does a fantastic job on the Blazer beat, but paragraphs like these are exactly why someone like Hedo Turkoglu(notes) gets overrated to the point where he can approach $9 million a year at age 30.

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.

So, his "stock rose dramatically in the playoffs," even though he was contributing less. Why? Because he was on national TV, more. Simple as that.

(You can rip on this column, though, if you want. It has Detroit putting Hedo ahead of all other free agents today. Turns out, the Pistons didn't even call Turkoglu.)

Hasn't Portland GM Kevin Pritchard seen this thing before?

The Chicago Bulls were one of the best defensive teams in the NBA for two seasons running entering the 2006 offseason, and instead of cutting up their salary cap space to accrue depth or try and help what was a pitiful team offense, the team splurged and used all of its cap space on a player that gave them exactly what they already had, but much older. By the end of his first month in Chicago, it was obvious that signing Ben Wallace(notes) was a huge blunder.

Portland needs a defender, and it needs a point guard. Chicago's Kirk Hinrich(notes) would seem to be the obvious fit, but if the Blazers sign Hedo, they'd have to ship Outlaw to Chicago for Hinrich. The team plays great for a year, but by the time Turkoglu reveals himself to be a seventh or eighth man as a 32-year old in 2011, where's the relief? Where's the payoff, from all that cap space? The ability to plug in Nicolas Batum(notes)? You have that right now!

It just boggles the mind that people who are paid to be patient, dealers who can only deal under strict guidelines, limited to trade deadlines, given only a finite amount of roster spots and cap space, dissuaded by a profit-killing luxury tax, still jump at the bit to reel in someone because he's famous, and because they have money to burn.

Kills me.

Portland, Hedo Turkoglu is 30. He's a fine player, but an average one, especially after you factor defense in. Please act accordingly.

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