Clippers officially sign Hedo Turkoglu in strange move to bolster frontcourt
After preliminary workouts, negotiation, and physical examination, the Clippers have finally signed free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu, who was released by the Magic earlier this month. Once he cleared waivers, Turkoglu was free to pursue discussions with the team of his choosing, and officially came to terms with the Clippers on a contract secure through the end of the season.
That’s a pretty good swing for Turkoglu, given that the 34-year-old forward hasn’t played a single minute since Feb. 2012 and is even further removed from decent performance. It’s curious that the Clippers are playing along; while L.A. is still lacking in adequate frontcourt depth, Turkoglu doesn’t effectively address any of the team’s actual on-court needs. Having another player capable of handling the ball, spacing the floor, and running the pick-and-roll doesn’t much hurt matters, but Turkoglu is the antithesis of the kind of steady defender the Clippers need to round out their rotation of bigs.
Still, there’s room for him to help L.A. in some small regard, as the current combination of Ryan Hollins, Antawn Jamison, and Byron Mullens provides an incredibly low bar to clear. So long as he makes shots he’ll be more useful than Mullens, and so long as he offers some creative benefit he’ll be preferable to Jamison. It’s simply difficult to imagine Turkoglu doing enough in any phase of the game to make him all that notable an upgrade; there’s not all that much at stake in signing Turkoglu to the prorated veteran minimum, but not much to gain, either.
In order to make room for Turkoglu, the Clippers have waived guard Maalik Wayns for the second time this season. Wayns and Darius Morris were both brought in for guard depth following Chris Paul’s shoulder separation, but the Clippers have opted to sign Morris to a second 10-day deal while cutting Wayns loose. Turkoglu was spared any such 10-day audition by signing a contract guaranteed for the season.
Prior to his release by the Magic earlier this month, Turkoglu was on the books for $12 million this season, but only $6 million was guaranteed. By releasing him before a Jan. 7 deadline, Orlando avoided paying the remaining $6 million.
“I wanna thank [Magic owner] Rich and Helen Devos and all the Devos family for making me feel part of the family for all these years,” Turkoglu wrote on Twitter after his release was officially announced. “God bless them I also wanna thank my number [one] supporters all the Orlando Magic fans and [the] city of Orlando for all these years for the great memories. Orlando will always be my second home.”
After a strong showing during Orlando’s run to the 2009 Finals, Turkoglu signed a five-year, $52.8 million contract with Toronto, a deal that looked regrettable shortly after it was signed. He was then traded by the Raptors to the Suns a year later in what amounted to a salary dump. Less than six months into his Phoenix tenure, the Suns traded him back to the Magic in a multi-player deal that included Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat. Turkoglu had remained in Orlando in the three-plus years since that move, and his playing time dwindled quickly.