A lot is riding on Turkoglu

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:51 PM ET

Hedo Turkoglu, the man expected to help guide the Raptors back to the NBA playoffs this season, will be arriving at training camp next week in Ottawa in less than ideal condition and may not get a ton of minutes in pre-season action.

The 6-10 forward, whom the Raptors acquired in a four-team deal on July 9, was less than stellar at the recently-competed EuroBasket 2009 tournament in Poland — at least statistically speaking — which has prompted speculation, and much hand-wringing amongst Raptors fans, that he is either tired or hurt.

Playing for the Turkish national team, Turkoglu, who has pledged to make the NBA all-star team this season, averaged 28.1 minutes, 9.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists, while shooting 32.8% from the floor in nine games, considerably down from his numbers with the Orlando Magic last season. In 77 games with the Magic, Turkoglu averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and shot 42.8% from the field, while playing 36.6 minutes per game.

Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo yesterday dismissed suggestions that Turkoglu played poorly at EuroBasket 2009, which was held in Poland, but did acknowledge that his prize off-season acquisition looked tired.

“International play has always been more of a team game, less individual, so statistics are less of an indication than what he actually contributed,” said Colangelo. “I watched him play, and would say he effectively deferred to others on his team, as he was often the target of defensive schemes.

“Having said that,” Colangelo added, “he did appear physically and emotionally tired when I saw him last week, which is understandable given his late June NBA Finals appearance and mid-July training for the Euro championship.”

The Magic took the eventual champions Los Angeles Lakers to five games in the NBA Finals, with Game 5 played on June 14. Given that, and the fact that Turkoglu spent much of the summer with the Turkish national team in Europe, Colangelo said the Raptor’s starting small forward will be given “some strategic rest” during the pre-season.

“(That’s) not ideal,” said the GM. “(But) it will go a long way for him right now.”

The Turkish team also struggled, finishing eighth with a 5-4 record, losing their last four games, which does not bode well for the team which will be hosting the world championships next year.


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