The Los Angeles Clippers announced Thursday that they have signed forward Hedo Turkoglu to a contract. The thirty-four year old free agent was recently waived by the Magic, having not played for them all season. The stubborn Turkish player was never going to bring much to a rebuilding franchise, but realistically does he have anything left to give to even a contender at this point in his career? It is absolutely a risk for the Clippers, for a number of reasons.
Firstly Turkoglu’s physical ability would want to have been pretty special for the Clippers to take a punt on him. Not that they can have any player they want, but most available free agents would absolutely love to play for the Clippers right now, given their prime location and seriousness when it comes to contending for a title. Head coach Doc Rivers has always been a fan, but Turkoglu has not given anything to any team since the Orlando Magic reached the NBA Finals in 2009. He will hardly be asked to play serious minutes on this team, and if he can give this team anything in short bursts then his acquisition will be seen as a resounding success. Best case scenario, the Clippers have spent minimal coin on a forward who can play the three or the four, is big and physical, has a great touch for a big man, and can stretch the floor with his shooting from beyond the arc. That type of player is rare enough, and heading into the final half of the season and what the organisation hope is a deep playoff run, this really could turn into a shrewd signing. Problems may emerge if the Clip’s injury problems continue to mount, asking Turkoglu to play serious minutes is a massive ask at this point in his career. Then there is his personality which he will bring into the locker room.
Winning championships requires many things, and a balanced and happy locker room is certainly one of them. If signing Stephen Jackson was a risk in terms of locker room equilibrium, Turkoglu brings his own baggage too, even if Jackson is no longer with the team. At this point in the season the vocal leaders within the team have been set, and barring a blockbuster trade, any additions made to teams heading to the playoffs are bit part players who know their role. Does Turkoglu fit into the mold of that kind of player? Will he quietly sit in the corner and go about what little business the team gives him and needs him to fulfill? Rivers is a clever guy, and is the kind of coach who can get the best out of a player. Put simply, people want to play for him. Clippers fans will have to hope they see a focused and willing Turkoglu, not one who will disrupt the identity that this team has created.
This really could go either way, but right now Turkoglu does not deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise. Being asked to actively stay away from the team by the Orlando Magic before being waived also points to the fact that he may be more trouble than he is worth. Moving from the Magic to the Toronto Raptors, then onto the Phoenix Suns and eventually back to the Magic again in one year backs up the fact that this is a guy who struggles to settle and brings problems wherever he goes. It wasn’t always like this of course, and as stated if the Clippers get even a small bit of productivity and the right attitude out of him, it is an extra weapon coming down the stretch of the season. Clippers fans, are you happy he’s on your side now?