The last straw for Hedo

Raptors' Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani try to defend as Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem goes to...

Raptors' Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani try to defend as Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem goes to the basket on Sunday. Toronto lost the game 97-94. (REUTERS/Doug Murray)

FRANK ZICARELLI, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:49 PM ET

MIAMI — The message was loud and clear, forceful and impactful.

The days of Hedo Turkoglu cutting corners are over, whether his future in Toronto is over remains to be seen.

Turkoglu’s season of unfulfilled promise and disappointment reached a new level Sunday night in Miami, where the Raptors blew a 17-point lead in the second half to drop a 97-94 decision to the host Heat, a loss that laid to bare all the problems plaguing Toronto.

Turkoglu dressed, but never saw the floor.

His ability to create would have been welcome when the Raptors couldn’t create enough against a stifling Heat defence that simply took over.

The loss, which puts Toronto’s playoff footing on even more unstable ground, paled in comparison to the drama surrounding Turkoglu.

Turkoglu missed Friday’s heartbreaker to Denver because of a stomach ailment, which first surfaced at halftime of last Wednesday’s loss to Utah.

It was later discovered that Turkoglu spent Friday night out on the town.

The team became aware of the situation following e-mails that were allegedly sent to different club officials.

The decision to not play Turkoglu clearly stems from Friday’s no-show against the Nuggets.

When pressed, general manager Bryan Colangelo politely responded by saying the matter was being handled internally.

Turkoglu didn’t have much to say following Sunday’s loss.

“I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay,’’ Turkoglu said when asked to comment on not playing against the Heat.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano said it was a coaching decision not to play Turkoglu, even though he was available.

“He was active. It was a coaching decision to not play him,’’ Triano said.

When pressed to give his reasons why the decision was made, Triano didn’t offer much in the way of an explanation.

When asked if the Raptors could have used Turkoglu’s play-making skills, Triano added: “If he’s 100% healthy and able to go, he’s helped us in those situations, yeah.”

Triano was then asked if the decision was more a function of health or whether he was trying to send a message.

“Both,’’ he said.

And the message?

“Not healthy.”

Which sort of explains the Raptors, who are fragile and falling fast.

Maybe it took Turkoglu’s actions from Friday for the Raptors to finally put their foot down on a guy who is very likeable, but who reported to camp out of shape and looking completely disinterested.

Next to Gilbert Arenas, perhaps no other player has a contract that is virtually untradeable than Turkoglu, who was given a five-year deal worth $53 million US in the off-season.

Whether he plays Monday night in Charlotte remains to be seen.

Orlando didn’t lose any sleep when Turkoglu left the Magic after helping lead it to last year’s appearance in the NBA final.

They knew Turkoglu would capitalize on his playoff run, opting out of his contract to become a free agent.

In hindsight, the Raptors should have benched Turkoglu long before Sunday.

He’s become a high maintenance player who shoots too many low-percentage shots, a player you can’t depend on and one who needs to be taught a lesson.

Players know Turkoglu hasn’t stepped up.

When he has played well, it’s been in spurts.

Jarrett Jack said the decision not to play Turkoglu was not discussed by his teammates, which seems unusual, but one has to accept his words at face value.

“It was handled among the coaches and whomever else is involved,’’ Jack said. “It’s a team business at the end of the day and that’s pretty much how you want to keep it.”

This whole Turkoglu mess doesn’t bode well for a team that is just half a game up on the Bulls for eighth in the East.

The kind of change that is possible in the wake of another non-playoff year will be catastrophic.

Colangelo’s future comes into question.

Triano’s future also will be in doubt.

And you ask yourself: Why would Chris Bosh want to return?

A lot of questions, but so few answers.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos