Turkoglu welcomes fresh start
The Phoenix Suns had been eyeing Hedo Turkoglu for years, and they can't wait to see him on the court with two-time league MVP Steve Nash.
"He's a player we've always coveted and we're extremely happy to have him here," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said Wednesday at Turkoglu's welcome-to-Phoenix news conference.
"He's such a versatile player; we can use him as a ball-handler, we can use him as a screener, as a spot-up shooter, we can isolate him on the elbow and take advantage of a lot of things he can do."
Turkoglu was acquired last week from Toronto after playing just one season of a five-year deal he signed with the Raptors. Leandro Barbosa went to Toronto in the deal.
Turkoglu is the key cog in Phoenix's rebuilding project in the wake of Amare Stoudemire's departure.
A five-time all-star and dominating presence in the lane, Stoudemire could score and rebound like few forwards in the league.
He signed a massive free-agent contract with the Knicks and the Suns have tried to lessen some of the loss by bringing in the trio of Turkoglu, swingman Josh Childress and forward Hakim Warrick.
None are particularly adept at rebounding, but are versatile and fit the Phoenix up-tempo mode.
Turkoglu should be an interesting fit.
The Turkish forward is six-foot-10, but plays more like a guard, spotting up for three-pointers, slashing through the lane and whipping passes around the floor.
Turkoglu has averaged 12.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and nearly three assists per game in his 10-year career and should give the Suns an alternate facilitator to go with Nash, who's still one of the best players in the league but has been bothered by nagging injuries.
"They're a good group of guys who like to play together and they have a good system with coach Alvin here," said Turkoglu, recovering from minor gall bladder surgery earlier this month.
"I've been watching the past years and they enjoy playing together and the style they play looks great to me."
The big question is which version of Turkoglu will the Suns get.
Will it be the dynamic force who was the NBA's most improved player in 2007-08 and helped guide the Magic to the 2009 Finals? Or will it be the going-through-the-motions player who saw his scoring average dip and was benched a game last season by the Toronto Raptors for being seen out on the town after claiming to be sick and missing a game before?
"I think you'll see a player who will more than likely come back and play at a level he did at Orlando, right on the brink of winning a championship," Gentry said.
Turkoglu's versatility should give Phoenix more options on a team already filled with them.
Gentry said Turkoglu could play anywhere from shooting guard to centre, depending on the situation and the opponent. He also should give Nash a chance to play off the ball a little more, become a spot-up shooter instead of having to dictate the offence almost nonstop.