Jason Richardson-Hedo Turkoglu trade fails to get Orlando out of first round

Joe Johnson won this battle of Nash era shooting guards over Jason Richardson. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Joe Johnson won this battle of Nash era shooting guards over Jason Richardson. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Phoenix Suns managed to dump Hedo Turkoglu’s contract and steal away Marcin Gortat because the Orlando Magic figured they had to shake up their core for a shot to win now.

If we’re going to judge the Aaron Brooks trade as a failure because it did not lead to a Phoenix playoff berth, not only does the big December trade look like a Suns win but it looks like an Orlando loss as well after the Magic failed to reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Richardson may have been an upgrade over Vince Carter because, well, he’s still breathing, but J-Rich in no way resembled the Suns’ star playoff performer from a year ago.

J-Rich averaged 10.0 points on 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 32.0 percent shooting from distance this series and he got suspended for a crucial Game 4 that Orlando lost for fighting. In 55 regular season games with the Magic his numbers were also down: 13.9 points on 43.3 percent shooting after going for 19.3 on 47.0 percent shooting to begin the season with the Suns.

The Magic made the trade because they felt Richardson was a missing complementary scorer whose output would surpass Carter’s and while they may have been right in that regard by no means was he a difference maker for Orlando like he was last year as the Suns’ barometer of success.

Long term losing J-Rich really doesn’t cost the Suns since they were unlikely to re-sign him to any kind of big money deal considering the youth movement that the franchise eventually will face. Although the Suns clearly missed him as a go-to guy, losing four months of him was certainly worth what they got back.

The Magic were also theoretically the only team willing to take on Hedo Turkoglu and the three years and $35 million remaining on his deal after this one (part of the money in the final season is non-guaranteed). The thought process for Orlando was that he was successful there before, and they felt they needed him initiating their offense out of the pick-and-roll to give them that added edge they possessed during their run to the Finals two years ago.

I didn’t think anybody would even take a sniff at Hedo unless he was the tax for a Nash trade or something like that, so merely eliminating him from Phoenix’s future seemed like a huge plus when he had to be one of the more untradeable players in the league.

However, on the day Orlando made this fateful move he was merely the third most untradeable player to be dealt that day with the Magic also consummating a Gilbert Arenas-Rashard Lewis deal.

Those trades meant the Magic were going all in. The deals for Arenas and Hedo combined with Dwight Howard’s superstar contract severely limit Orlando’s future flexibility to make moves to satisfy Howard before he can leave in 2012, and a lackluster regular season combined with the six-game loss to the Hawks prove the Magic lost this gamble, at least for the time being.

As Nate Drexler writes at MagicBasketball.net, Turkoglu just wasn’t the same player he was two years ago. During the regular season he averaged 11.4-4.5-5.1 on 44.8 percent shooting, better numbers than he put up in Phoenix but not exactly the guy who averaged 19.5 and 16.8 his previous two years in Orlando.

He’s been horrendous in the playoffs, averaging 9.4 points on 29.4 percent shooting from the field and 23.3 percent shooting from distance. His playoff PER of 7.19 and true shooting percentage of 37.1 aren’t why the Magic swung this deal.

Drexler describes Hedo as “indecisive,” “passive,” and “useless” during his current tenure in Orlando, words that could easily describe the beginning of his season as well in Phoenix.

Hedo’s sharp decline truly is a mystery now that he has not only struggled in Toronto and Phoenix but also back in his comfort zone in Orlando. Even playing for Turkey in the FIBA World Championship he took more threes than twos and settled for long jump shots time after time after time, hardly resembling the 2009 playoff stalwart.

Perhaps he got fat from the big contract the Raptors gave him and has never been able to work his way back or perhaps a clutch playoffs following a career year the season before just exaggerated his worth in everybody’s eyes.

In any case, the Suns’ future looks much brighter with Gortat’s long-term deal in place of Turkoglu’s albatross of a contract on their books the next few years, and the Suns should be thankful the Magic were willing to take a major risk that thus far has been a failure.

With that the entirety of the special 2009-10 Suns roster has now been eliminated from postseason contention as we see all those parts that worked so well together have not been the same apart.

Tags: Hedo Turkoglu Jason Richardson

  • Steve

    Can I just say what I know we’re all thinking?

    If the Magic had kept Carter, they would have won the Finals this year…

  • Office Chairs Guy

    @Steve I think if they had kept Rashard they would have beaten the Hawks atleast!. I think the Magic definitely lost out on both trades.

  • Chris

    Sums it up, “(Hedo) clutch playoffs following a career year the season before just exaggerated his worth in everybody’s eyes.”

    You can’t give the front office any credit though since we were the idiots who signed up for that monster contract

  • Marley

    @Steve, Mike S

    VC is laughing his azz off! Clearly, he was not the problem in Orlando!

    The Lakers and Celtics showed the rest of the NBA how to defend the Dwight Howard offensive system. Let Dwight get his points but don’t let the 4 shooters get hot. Dwight is not that good offensively anyways. Sound familiar with the Suns?

    The year the Magic made it to the Finals was a fluke. KG was hurt. Rondo had not arrived. R. Lewis was on steroids. The East was a weak conference. And LeBron was still a Cleveland Cavalier.

    Do some of you know why the Magic made the trades that they did?

    The whole purpose of the Magic-Suns trade was for the Magic to gain one extra [proven] perimeter offensive spot-up shooter at the cost of losing defense.

    To play for the Magic (or Suns) you must be a consistent spot-up shooter. They figured with Dwight in the middle, they could sacrifice perimeter defense.

    Earl Clark Marcin Gortat
    Arenas R. Lewis
    Hedo, J.Rich VC, Pietrius

    Defensively, VC+Pietrius are better than Hedo+J.Rich. But as spot-up shooters go, Hedo+J.Rich gives you one extra [proven consistent] shooter. Pietrius is not an offensive threat and his IQ is low.

    And how can you call J.Rich a go-to-guy when all he is a spot-up shooter? J.Rich cannot dribble!

    Marcin Gortat was not as great as some of you wishful dreamers claim as well.

    Gortat is not what you would call an all-star center. He is a good center, but not a center-piece to building your team around.

    In most of the games that the Suns lost, Gortat did not do well.

    And in case some of you don’t know, Gortat was having a bad year in Orlando this year. That is one of the reasons why the Magic felt it was time to deal him!

    Gortat was missing open lay-ups and close-range open shots. He also got into a lot of quick foul problems after subbing in for Dwight.

    Gortat couldn’t get any rhythm in Orlando playing behind Dwight. And if you watched their games, you could see his mind was not always there. He wanted to be a starter! He digressed this year in Orlando. With Dwight, the Magic could afford to let Gortat go.

    I guarantee that Gortat will digress next year for the Suns as well. One, his body-type is the fat kind. Two, teams will pay more attention to him. Three, the novelty of playing for a new team will be gone. Four, the pressure is now on Gortat. The pressure was on Lopez this year, but Lopez will step up next year, adding more pressures for Gortat to perform in order to be the starter.

    In regards to VC:

    I’m not defending him. I am countering your one-dimensional arguments. It’s called playing devils advocate.

    If you all were praising VC, I would be pointing out the flaws in your praises instead. Just like how I point out Steve Nash’s flaws to all the Nash fanboys here.

    VC has proven that if you make him a focal point of your offense from START to FINISH, he will deliver.

    When the Magic were missing 4 of their players (Dwight, Jameer, Reddick, Pietrius), VC was the guy who carried them to a 2-1 record. The Magic offense looked more balanced and in rhythm without Dwight and Jameer. The 1 lost was a back-to-back and a close game as well.

    Basketball is a game of RHYTHM.

    A player like VC cannot get into a comfortable rhythm in a Magic or Suns offense – if all you do is make him a spot-up shooter, parked out on the 3pt line.

    The games where VC did poorly offensively for the Suns were games where VC’s first 5-8 field goal attempts were spot-up shots. The games where VC scored 18+, 20+, and 30+, were games where VC was able to run pick-n-rolls, post-ups, isos, and Nash-to-Carter drives/dunks.

    The lack-of-effort some of you claim about VC, is more of an indifference attitude because VC knows he can do more if the COACH puts the ball in his hand.

    VC knows the Suns are not his team. He also knew
    the Magic were not his team.

    He understands the game and business. That is why you don’t see VC demanding the ball and voicing his displeasure for not getting the ball or for being substituted out for Jared Dudley. It is not his team, so he plays his role.

    It is called POLITICS. Every work place and industry has POLITICS.

    It is kind of like how you are not suppose to speak up against your boss at work even if your boss is clearly wrong. The boss is always right even when he is wrong. That is how you survive corporate workplace politics.

    Same thing with surviving workplace politics in the NBA. If it is not your team, you do as you are told and simply play your role.

    You want more 20+ points and all-star performances from VC, make the Sun’s his team – or at the very minimal, allow VC to run the offense more.

    And yes, had the Magic not made there mid-season trades, the Magic would have gotten to atleast the second round or Eastern Conference Finals. The Magic were the clear losers of the trade.


  • Mike Meez

    Everyone knows VC checks out so I think the Suns kinda expected that, especially since everyone knows he was only here for the remainder of the season and nothing more. Still, it’s sad to see a guy with that much talent NEED 35+ minutes a game to be effective. You can make the rhythm argument when a player is getting like 10-15 minutes, which he got for some games at the end of the season. But even at the end of the season he was getting some games of 20-25 minutes. That’s plenty of time to get a rhythm. Anyway, everyone knew what was going to happen with VC here in Phoenix…so whatever, let’s move on and pretend it never happened.

    The Magic will certainly be more urgent to surround Dwight with some better players so I think that opens the door to a Nash trade. The problem is that the Magic don’t have many tradeable assets. We’d definitely need a third team to get value, but I think it’s at least possible.

    Or go in the other direction. Dwight gets Melo syndrome and demands a trade. We somehow offer up a decent package and land Dwight! The first ever All-Star center (in his prime) on the Suns! Then we clear roster for the year and get CP3 next offseason! I know this will never happen, but a boy can dream.

  • Steve

    Marley, why do you bother? You’re not a Suns fan, so I don’t see why you come here just to troll. I’ll address a couple of things you said just for the heck of it.

    1. I doubt VC is laughing right now. He’s going to miss out on a ton of money next year. Somewhere in the neighborhood of $10M. And the reason is another hit to his ego – he sucks. There’s not much funny about losing $10M because you’re not good at your job.

    2. LeBron being a Cavalier didn’t get the Magic to the Finals. If you’re not aware, LeBron made it to the Finals with the Cavs. He hasn’t done that yet with any other team. And either way, making it to the Finals is an accomplishment no matter who’s hurt, if your conference is down, or whatever. You don’t get to be one of the last two teams standing by accident.

    3. You’re not playing Devil’s advocate. Devil’s advocate would sound something like, “If VC is so bad, why did he have a PER of 22, FG% of 49.2%, get 2.1 spg, and dish out 5.5 dimes?” The problem is, he didn’t do any of that. A true Devil’s advocate has to make an ARGUMENT to the contrary that has validity, logic, and good rhetorical grounds. You don’t have any of that. You’re just saying, “Vince is good because I say he’s good.” That’s not being a Devil’s advocate. That’s being a fanboy.

    4. I don’t think there are too many unreasonable Nash fanboys who are very vocal here, so I’m not really sure where you get that. And either way, it’s not like Nash is sucking it up at his position. He’s top 5 in virtually every significant offensive category for PGs. And EVERYONE bashes him for his defensive shortcomings. You don’t point out any faults of Nash’s that no one else is aware of. We’ve had plenty of time to observe all of his foibles. I’m not sure you have had that same luxury.

    5. I don’t remember VC proving anything of the sort. I remember him proving he’ll sideline himself with boo-boos in the NBA Playoffs. I remember him proving he can’t come up in the Playoffs when it matters. I’ll give him a pass on the Raptor years because those teams weren’t that great, but with the Nets and the Magic, he has no excuse. Tell me how he has proven anything when he has had multiple chances at RINGS and fell flat on his face every time? He hasn’t even been the guy who has carried his team to deep playoff success. He’s not the most terrible playoff performer of all time. He’s actually pretty good. But don’t try to pretend it was VC that got the Nets or the Magic anywhere.

    6. Lastly, truly great players don’t allow anyone to run the team but THEM (part of the reason I think the Heat are the biggest joke in NBA history). Jordan ran the Bulls (and Wizards). Magic ran the Lakers. Bird ran the Celtics. Miller ran the Pacers. Olajuwon ran the rockets. Robinson ran the Spurs, and now Duncan runs them. You would NEVER see any of them give up their throne for two reasons: 1. None of them ever sucked. 2. They would get in a fist fight with their coach if he ever doubted them. VC was a good player, but he is NOT one of the transcendent greats of the game. He’s on the same tier as guys like Grant Hill. He’s a good player who failed to rise to greatness for some reason. Grant’s primary reason was injuries. Carter’s primary reason is that he gives up/doesn’t have the dedication to improve the weaknesses of his game (shot selection, defense, effort).

    Now, will you please go back to being a fan of some other team rather than bugging all of us Suns fans? You haven’t made one compelling argument in favor of Vince being anything other than a formerly supremely gifted athlete who showed flashes of dominance, but ultimately ended up in failure. That’s what I’ve said he is all along. He used to be pretty dang good. Now he just doesn’t have it any more. Three organizations have given up on him in the past four years. I think that’s a good indication he has lost it. Please, please, please, just give this up and get off this site.

  • Steve

    Haha, imagine what Gortat would be thinking if we traded for Dwight!

    I would feel awful for the guy.

  • NBA Critic

    MAGIC need NASH! Him and Dwight would be sick running PnR. They gotta somehow get rid of Hedo especially if Nash goes there but I don’t see that happening, no one wants him so Hedo would be a spot up shooter again.

    JRICH plays to tentatively his first year with a new team. He did the same with the Suns. He’s not sure what role to take when the team has other good players on it. Magic needed him to go big and he didn’t. Such as his second year with the Suns he would understand this better and command more if he remains a Magic. However, I have a feeling he will be gone as the Magic need to make moves to keep Dwight happy otherwise he could be gone when his contract is up. They need another big man to back him up now and could certainly stand to upgrade the 4 and 3 spots. JJ is ready for a bigger role in the number 2 spot plus he can actually play D on the perimeter and then you got Howard in the center helping to hide Nash’s terrible D.

  • Mel.

    Marley, that drooling slopfest you tried to pass off as an anti-Gortat rant is one of the worst diatribes that I’ve seen on this blog in a few weeks. It reads like you and some friends tried to fill out a sheet of Mad Libs by committee…

    Gortat’s body type is “fat?” So that means that guys like Zach Randolph, Carmelo Anthony, Glen Davis and anybody else who isn’t shredded wheat is somehow a defective talent?

    Marcin was having a bad year in Orlando… backing up the premiere big man/center in the entire league, and–as you pointed out in a weird contradiction of your original negative point–never found a rhythm, behind D12, due to that dynamic?

    And cripes, it just goes on and on. Not much to add to Steve’s spanking of your rant, but the fact that you clearly undermined your initial assertion–that Gortat isn’t a piece of a potential all-star–by noting all the reasons why NOBODY KNOWS WHETHER OR NOT THAT’S TRUE DUE TO THE FACT THAT HE’S NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO ANCHOR A STARTING FIVE is really just… an exercise in muddied self-defeat.

  • sun also rises

    LOL @ the comments about the Polish Hammer. You don’t think the Magic are going to be missing him once Howard leaves for the Lakers?

    If you thought the Suns were happy about getting Gortat before, just wait until Orlando is left trying to fill two huge holes in its front line. This trade is going to look like a heist out of Ocean’s 11.

  • Mike Meez

    I agree that it looks like a good trade for the Suns, but bearing in mind that part of what made it so great was getting rid of Hedo….who we had just signed a couple months before. If Gortat develops into a legit starting big man, I guess it will be worth it because maybe we don’t make that trade without Hedo’s corpse as part of it.

  • VA Sunsfan

    I can’t believe I’msaying this but I agree with everything Steve said above. Great critique of Marley. You knocked it out of the park. If it doesn’t jump out at you from all of the spelling and grammatical errors that Marley is an idiot, pick any sentence in his diatribe and the content will out him.

    Marley, did you not watch the games? Gentry ran countless plays fir him and

  • VA Sunsfan

    For him and tried repeatedly to get him involved. There were no politics or coaching conspiracy bias that were working against Carter. If you were actually watching, you would see that you’re completely wrong about Vince.


    Hey what’s up with the J-Rich crotch grab on JJ? (see pic)

  • Mel.

    “Hey what’s up with the J-Rich crotch grab on JJ? (see pic)”

    Uh… wow. I hadn’t even registered that. Maybe he was watching the Celtics-Suns game a few months back, and saw some value in the KG nutpunch defensive set?

  • B. Cray Z.

    Last year, the Suns had a team full of good guys.

    J-Rich was the glaring exception to that rule.