Since the season ended not two full days ago, only one topic has dominated our minds...the value of Turkoglu to this team. Obviously, him opting-out of his deal was to be expected, but it does raise some important issues. The overwhelming consensus on this blog seems to be that Turk is invaluable--a player that we absolutely must resign to return to the game's ultimate stage next year. While I value Turk as much as the next man, re-sigining him to a long term deal does raise some interesting questions. For the sake of intelligent discourse, I would like to voice these questions as well as give my .02 cents regarding the Magic and their future. More after the jump...
There are three main areas of concern for me when I ponder the future of Turk with the Magic. They are as follows:
1) Contract Length - This is Turk's last chance at signing a big deal in the NBA. Likewise, it should come as no surprise that he is pursuing a five-year deal. Currently at 30, this would have Turk making serious money until teh ripe, old age of 35. Now I do realize that Turk was a "late bloomer" of sorts and may just be entering his prime, but c'mon, how much is he going to have left at 35?
The other issue with a five-year deal, is that this length supersedes the length of Dwight/Jameer/Rashard's contracts. It doesn't make sense to sign Turk to a deal that extends past this window. Now, if he would sign for 4 years, it might change my opinion slightly, but that would just make me fall back onto my next point...
2) Turk's fit on this team - It has been well-documented that Turkoglu has made this offense tick during the closing-run of the regular season, as well as the postseason. When we need a big bucket, the ball is in his hands. However, recent memory fails us in one important aspect. Before Jameer got hurt, he was performing at an All-Star level, as were Dwight and Rashard. The one player who regressed from the previous year was Turk. This was bound to happen due to his crazy success in 07-08, but its not hard to figure out why Jameer's success will come at the expense of Hedo's production. It's also not a coincidence that Hedo's production picked up once he became the team's primary playmaker (ahem, when Jameer got injured).
While I love the play-making ability that Turk brings to this team, I'm not sure that he an Jameer can completely co-exist. Now, faced with the issue of chossing one or the other, I side with Jameer, and here is why: We already have a player that is capable of being an all-star SF and his name is Rashard Lewis. A line-up of Jameer, Lee/Peitrus, Lewis, (PF w/ range to be added), and D12 would be a force to be sure. Rashard would blossom even more by being able to tee-off on the oppositions SFs and Jameer would get to shine as the team's playmaker. As for who plays the 4, well that brings me to my final point...
3) Money - Turk wants a raise from $7.5 MM. Keeping terms on the friendly side, let's say the Magic could sign him to a 4 year $40 MM contract (and remember, this is probably the least that we could sign him for). That 10MM a year, combined with 5 from Alston and 7 from Battie gives the Magic unbelievable flexibility. Roughly $20 MM would be enough to sign any PF that we wanted. And now I ask you, how good does this lineup look:
Nelson, Lee/Pietrus, Lewis, Bosh, Howard
or how about:
Nelson, Lee/Pietrus, Lewis, Odom, Howard or replace Odom with Boozer.
or even (but a bit of a stretch):
Nelson, Lee/Pietrus, Lewis, Zach Randolph, Howard
Basically, insert any PF that can rebound and hit an outside shot (18-20 ft). This will stretch the Defense so Dwight can operate, Provide some help on the boards and on D, and allow Lewis to play his more-natural SF position. Some might say that I am pulling these names out of nowhere, and I'll admit I am, but with the cap room we secure by letting Turk walk, these names suddenly become available. (As an aside, another lineup that interests me greatly is Nelson, Lee/Pietrus, Artest, Lewis, Howard).
You aren't going to find me entering panic mode because the Lakers beat us in 5. However, we were exposed as a team that is vulnerable to a team that has the size and length of the Laker's frontcourt--we had no answer for Gasol. To finish, I am not saying we need to blow up the house and get rid of Turk, but I think the thought of moving forward without him certainly merits a conversation.