Hedo could be headed elsewhere
- Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesAfter a very good playoff run, Hedo Turkoglu could be heading for a big free-agent payday.ORLANDO -- Attention Magic fans: You may want to savor the sight of Hedo Turkoglu wearing an Orlando uniform Sunday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, because it may be the last time it happens. Why? Because the Magic may not be able to afford to keep him. Turkoglu has a player option for the 2009-10 season for $7.36 million, but sources have told ESPN.com that Orlando's 30-year-old starting small forward is 100 percent certain to exercise his right to terminate his contract, which will make him an unrestricted free agent as of July 1. At that point, it will become a question of what kind of contract Turkoglu can command -- and it will likely be five years at an annual price significantly higher than the $7.36 million he is forsaking. And then it will become a question of whether the Magic can move enough salary through trades to pay Turkoglu his market value while staying beneath the luxury-tax threshold, which was $71.15 million this season but could drop into the high 60 millions for the upcoming season. "We're not a team that would relish being in the tax, and with that said, we have our work to do, and we'll do our due diligence in doing our work. We like Turk, and we want to keep Turk here in a Magic uniform, but there are some challenges in doing that," Orlando general manager Otis Smith told ESPN.com on Saturday. "Management doesn't want to be a tax team, but that doesn't mean it won't happen. We haven't been a tax team in three years, but that doesn't necessarily mean we won't be going forward."
Gortat's free agency
ORLANDO, Fla. -- His nickname is "The Polish Hammer," which is fitting, because Marcin Gortat is expected to nail down a fairly hefty deal this summer when he becomes a restricted free agent.
When the NBA Finals conclude, the Magic need to worry about retaining not only starting small forward Hedo Turkoglu but also Gortat, who has emerged as a better-than-serviceable backup center to Dwight Howard. In his biggest test, Gortat racked up 11 points and 15 rebounds in place of the suspended Howard when the Magic closed out the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.
League sources say one or more teams will likely be willing to give Gortat a multiyear offer sheet for at least the midlevel exception, which was $5.6 million per season in 2008-09.
An NBA truism -- which has always bothered players at other positions -- is that centers tend to get overpaid. For evidence, see three centers who signed long-term contracts that run through 2010-11: Erick Dampier, still owed a total of $25.2 million by Dallas; Samuel Dalembert, owed $25 million by the 76ers; and Eddy Curry, owed $21.7 by the Knicks.
Though the 25-year-old Gortat's inability to shoot from outside will limit his market value, two factors work in his favor: his work ethic and his recent development. And that might just be enough to garner an offer that Orlando will be unwilling to match, perhaps from a contender like San Antonio.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Sheridan, click here.
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