Turkoglu opts out of Magic contract
A day after the Magic acquired Vince Carter from the New Jersey Nets, Turkoglu's agent said Friday that he sent a notice to Orlando earlier this week that his client will opt out of his contract to become a free agent. Agent Lon Babby said the Magic had made Turkoglu an initial offer that Orlando general manager Otis Smith described as a "jumping off point."
But Carter's acquisition signals the Magic are jumping in another direction.
Orlando's payroll will likely dip into the luxury tax for the first time in franchise history, and Turkoglu is looking for a big payday after helping the Magic reach the NBA Finals last season. He will be a free agent July 1.
"We will see what the market holds on July 1, but that market will surely be robust for Hedo," Babby said.
Turkoglu's decision was first reported by The Orlando Sentinel.
Orlando also received forward Ryan Anderson from the Nets, who acquired three players in return: Point guard Rafer Alston; shooting guard Courtney Lee; and power forward Tony Battie. The Magic are hoping Carter, who has averaged 23.5 points over a 10-year pro career, will provide center Dwight Howard with a perimeter scorer who can create his own shot and finish at the end of games -- something they lacked in losing the finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Turkoglu was due $7.3 million next season in the final year of his $36 million, six-year deal with the Magic. Turkoglu averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season.
Although those numbers were slightly down from a year ago, when he was voted the NBA's most improved player, he was often the player the Magic ran their offense through en route to just their second Eastern Conference championship. He also led the team in scoring in the finals at 18 points per game.
Turkoglu has spent the last five seasons in Orlando after four with the Sacramento Kings. He has said he would like to remain with the Magic but that securing his family's future is the most important thing this offseason.
The 6-foot-10 forward from Turkey will likely command a multiyear deal worth around $10 million per year.
The Magic had said they wanted Turkoglu to return.
Smith admitted Thursday that re-signing Turkoglu will now be considerably more difficult with them hampered by Carter's contract. A Magic spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment Friday.
Still, bringing in an eight-time All-Star like Carter was an opportunity Orlando couldn't pass up.
"Vince gives us a veteran, go-to scoring presence, especially at the end of games," Smith said Thursday. "Our goal remains the same -- to win a championship. Any time you can add an All-Star to help you reach your goals, you have to do it."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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