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Talkin' Trades: Hedo Turkoglu to the Lakers

Hedo Turkoglu attempts a reverse layup against the Miami Heat last season.

File photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack, the Associated Press

Speaking objectively, it makes a ton of sense for the Orlando Magic to trade Hedo Turkoglu. His stock has never been higher, he's in his prime, and it's unlikely they'll have the money to re-sign him when he opts out of his contract next summer.Speaking subjectively, it makes no sense for them to trade him, because he's the team's second-best overall player, best playmaker, and key offensive weapon.

But subjectivity needs to yield to objectivity if the Magic are going to make the jump from "pretty damn good" to "elite." And the blogosphere is alive with proposed trades that, perhaps unfortunately, will never happen in real life.

Last week, the Trade Journal proposed a three-team trade between the Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Portland Trail Blazers in which the Magic parted with Turkoglu, among other players, and received center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and point guard Steve Blake. Readers of this site didn't much care for that deal.

Before we continue, I need to add some context: on June 24th, I emailed Kurt of the Lakers blog Forum Blue and Gold to get his thoughts on a trade which would send Turkoglu, Tony Battie, and either J.J. Redick or Keith Bogans to the Los Angeles Lakers for Lamar Odom and a lottery-protected first-round draft pick. The idea came to me when I read this rundown of the Lakers' probable 2008/2009 roster in which Kurt addressed some Lakers fans' concerns with Odom's play. I intended to use his responses in an eventual Talkin' Trades post (like this one) for this site. And although he provided wonderfully thorough responses, the idea slipped my mind, and I didn't think a heckuva lot of it until last week.

Last Friday, Magic beat reporter John Denton proposed the Magic send Turkoglu and Battie to the Los Angeles Lakers for swing forward Lamar Odom:

Losing Tukoglu's playmaking skills AND Battie's size would damage the Magic's firepower and depth, but Odom would give the Magic some nuch-needed size and rebounding at power forward. And such a move would allow Lewis to move back to his natural position of small forward.

Today, Trade Journal reader (and Poor Man's GM author) jaceman proposed a deal which sends Turkoglu, Redick, and Brian Cook to L.A. for Odom:

If the Magic are going to try some more unconventional matchups for the forwards, then you might as well get one that rebounds as well as Odom does. As much as Odom's offensive game plays like a 3, his game is actually best utilized when he's playing at the 4 position, I think. That being said, you'd replace for Orlando at the 3 a Rashard Lewis clone with, well Rashard Lewis.

Greg Broome, who runs The Trade Journal, thinks the deal "works" if the Magic are willing to re-sign Odom this summer.

That makes three well-informed NBA writers who have argued in the past week that trading Turkoglu for Odom makes sense for all parties involved. Due to the upswing in interest of a trade based on those two marquee players, I've decided to post excerpts from my aforementioned conversation with Laker blogger Kurt to round out the various reasons why such a trade works. Read it after the jump.

From my initial email to Kurt, which I sent on June 24th:

You wrote [about Odom], "He can rebound, he can lead the break, his is a good ballhandler and his hoops IQ is good. The questions are how well he can defend opposing small forwards and can he be a good enough shooter to spread the floor."

Well, the Magic have a guy who can do all those things: Hedo Turkoglu. He's younger than Odom is, and cheaper to boot. He'd also make the Lakers a nightmare to defend in late-game situations, paired with Kobe Bryant; you can't guard both of them.

The full proposal is Turkoglu, Tony Battie, and J.J. Redick for Lamar Odom and a future, lottery-protected first-round pick. Battie gives the Lakers a competent backup F/C who can act as Chris Mihm Insurance. Redick's dead-eye three-point shooting would allow the Lakers to let Sasha Vujacic walk should another team present him with a too-high offer sheet. Alternatively, the Magic could send Keith Bogans (worse shooter, MUCH better defender), and I believe the salaries work in that deal also.

Odom's presence gives the Magic a true PF who can take some pressure off Dwight Howard in the post with his rebounding. It also allows Rashard Lewis to move back to SF. David Thorpe was right when he wrote, in that post I mentioned, that Odom was at his best as a PF in Stan Van Gundy's offense. His per-48 minute scoring and rebounding numbers in Miami best all those of his Lakers career (thanks, and his assist totals are comparable.

From Kurt's response:

I think this would be an interesting proposal the Lakers would have to seriously consider. In the end I'm hesitant because it may be more of a lateral move for the Lakers than a step forward, but you'd have to think about it.


As for the offer, I think Odom would be a good fit for you guys alongside Howard. His slasher style game would play well off Howard and Lewis and would give you guys a very long front line defensively. The key with Odom is to get him the ball in the post or out isolated on the wing and get him to penetrate (almost always driving to his left) - he is not a great jumpshooter and he doesn't fear taking threes even though he should. He has to go to the rim. Plus, there are nights he will simply not show up mentally. You have to accept that with LO or he will drive you nuts.

From the Lakers perspective, the question really is defense. On offense Hedo's game seemed to mature - a year ago I would have said "we already have [Vladimir] Radmanovic for that role" but Hedo has stepped up his ability to create his own shot and do it in pressure situations. He certainly would stretch the floor at the three, play some at the four (a key for us to keep a flexible roster for matchups) and he seems less prone to the mental vacations that make Radmanovic a space cadet. But, he is not the ballhandler that Odom is nor can he do something Odom can - grab the rebound then lead the fast break the other way. Like I said before, Hedo's game would fit the Lakers, but how much of an upgrade would it be?

The challenge for Hedo would be on the defensive end - his defensive statistics this year against opposing threes are great, but how much of that is because Howard was patrolling the paint behind him? Yes, the Lakers have [Andrew] Bynum who can alter shots and protect the rim, but he is no Howard (nobody is). I honestly have not seen enough of Hedo's defense to say for sure one way or the other if he could be the kind of defender we need there (as evidenced in the finals). The Laker team defense should (and needs to) improve next year and the question I have would be "can Hedo be a part of that?"


But it is an interesting idea that, if it were proposed to the Laker front office, they would have to have serious talks about. The Laker front office is very patient, they may want to see what an Odom/[Pau] Gasol/Bynum front line would do before making any moves, but this offer at the least would have to make them stop and rethink that.

In reviewing my conversation with Kurt, I've concluded that swapping Turkoglu for Odom is a medium-risk, high-reward situation for the Magic. Odom's a fantastic player who throve in Stan Van Gundy's offense in Miami, and his presence would let Rashard Lewis bloom at his natural small forward position. Committing to Odom next summer is key: the deal becomes a zero-sum proposition if the Magic don't win a championship with Odom this year and then watch him walk in free-agency. But it makes more sense to pay Odom, a proven player with more than one stellar season on his resume, than to pay Turkoglu, whose fantastic 2007/2008 season, his finest, may have been a fluke.

I'm in favor of this deal because I believe Otis Smith is wise enough to know that locking-up a starting five of Jameer Nelson, Mickael Pietrus, Lewis, Odom, and Howard makes his team title contenders for the next five seasons. He'd be moving his best perimeter player to L.A. (not to mention his chips to the center of the table) but ultimately, it'd be worth it.

But that's just my opinion. So, Magic fans, given the reasons these various bloggers have listed that support the idea of a Hedo-Turkoglu-for-Lamar-Odom trade, what say you? If the Magic had the opportunity to pull the trigger on a deal featuring these players (they couldn't be traded straight-up for one another because their salaries don't match), should they?