Hedo heading home

TERRY KOSHAN, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

MIAMI — Hedo Turkoglu isn’t sure what kind of reception he will get tonight in Orlando.

But the Raptors forward wants Magic fans to know his leaving after five years was nothing personal.

“(The Magic offered) a three-year deal for almost $24-million (US) and Toronto gave me five years and ($53)-million,” Turkoglu said. “They gave me that kind of money and Orlando did not want to pay.

“It’s not like I did something behind them. I hope the fans realize that too.”

Much of the NBA world thought Turkoglu was going to sign with the Portland Trail Blazers, but he wound up choosing the Raptors after he reportedly had verbally agreed to a deal with Portland.

When he steps on to the court tonight at the Amway Arena, Turkoglu does not expect boos from every corner of the building. The 30-year-old native of Turkey, whose wife was said to have swayed him to sign in Toronto for cultural reasons, helped the Magic advance to the NBA final last spring. Orlando lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Turkoglu and the Raptors will have a large challenge tonight, especially after a bad defeat last night in Miami against the Heat.

“I did what I could for the fans,” Turkoglu said. “They were great to me. At least I (should) get half cheers, half boos. Not the whole arena booing, that would not be nice.”

Through 27 games, Turkoglu’s adjustment to playing for the Raptors has not been swift. When Raptors coach Jay Triano was asked about Turkoglu’s conditioning, he paused and said: “He is not the quickest player in the league but his basketball savvy is one of the tops. He just knows how to play. I’d like him to play 36-38 minutes a game, if not more.

“I don’t know if he is finding his legs. He’s getting used to playing more significant minutes. We’re getting used to where he is going to throw the basketball and when. There was miscommunication on some plays.”

The idea of returning to Orlando to see old friends wasn’t the only thing that brought a smile to Turkoglu’s face yesterday. The draw was held for the 2010 FIBA world basketball championship, a tournament that will be played in his homeland.

“It would be great for me to play and win something in front of my home people,” Turkoglu said. “It would be huge. Top four would be great. But any colour (of medal), I would take it. Any kind of medal would be perfect.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca


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