04 July 2007

Sac. Bee: Kings Inquire About Hedo Turkoglu, Might Trade Ron Artest

John Hollinger pointed out in his analysis of the Rashard Lewis signing that Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu are both 6'10" small forwards who like to shoot three-pointers from the corner. As Hollinger put it, Hedo Turkoglu is "redundant" now that Lewis is on the Magic's roster.

The Sacramento Kings have picked up on that fact, and Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee reports that the Kings have contacted the Magic about making a trade for Turkoglu. Although he has not confirmed which player the Kings are offering in return, Amick suspects that it might be Ron Artest, whose salary is close enough to Turkoglu's to make the trade work under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement.

Ron Artest of the Kings eyes a loose ball as he fends off Corey Maggette of the Clippers. Artest is rumored to be Orlando-bound as part of a deal that would send Hedo Turkoglu to Sacramento.
Photo by José Luis Villegas, the Sacramento Bee

My take? Just say no.

The problem with this rumored trade has nothing to do with Hedo leaving and everything to do with Ron Artest arriving. Putting aside character issues for a moment, he doesn't make sense for the Magic. Stop me if you've heard me express this sentiment before: We don't need any more small forwards. Rashard Lewis and Trevor Ariza have us set at that position. Why not play him at shooting guard? Because he's not near good enough a shooter; teams would leave him wide-open to double Dwight Howard in the post. Given Dwight's turnover problems, that's not something we need.

What Artest is most known for, at least on the basketball court, his is stellar defense. Not only does he shut opponents down, he also forces turnovers, with a career steals-per-game average of 2.1. As hard as it is to believe, the Magic were among the league's top defensive teams last season, so Artest's primary skill does not do the Magic any good.

There's also Artest's dubious history of questionable behavior. Last March, he was charged in a domestic abuse case involving his wife, and subsequently pleaded no-contest. That incident occurred less than a month after his dog, Socks, was removed from his mansion for being underfed; Artest did not face charges in that instance.

Then there's the famous "Malice at the Palace," which occurred in Detroit in a game featuring the Pistons and the Indiana Pacers, for which Artest played at the time. The brawl started when a fan threw a beer at Artest after Artest committed a hard foul on Ben Wallace. The teams fought with each other, and then with the fans, as Artest charged into the stands and threw punches.

He was suspended for the remainder of the 2004/2005 season and postseason. Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, his Pacers teammates, also received hefty suspensions for their actions. Without three of their best players, the Pacers' hopes for a title faded, and the franchise is now in a state of limbo.

I don't know Artest personally, but I do know he's bad for a team to have on its roster and in its community. That said, he's a terrific basketball player, and is a real bargain at $7 M annually when his production is taken into consideration. However, even if he were well-behaved, that wouldn't change his incompatibility with the Magic team, which is reason alone for the team not to make this deal.

If the Magic agree to send Hedo back to Sacramento, where he started his career, I worry about what we might receive in return. Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Kenny Thomas are two serviceable power forwards who could shore up our frontcourt deficiencies, but Abdur-Rahim just underwent knee surgery and Thomas is overpaid at $7 M annually. Neither of their contracts come off the books until 2010, which limits the Magic's ability to trade them or to sign free-agents until then.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim and his bionic knees are not the answer to Orlando's deficiency at power forward.

Photo by Randy Pench, the Sacramento Bee

Sacramento may want Hedo, but the Magic shouldn't want anything to do with any of their players. Otis Smith should keep the line open and listen to other teams' offers for Hedo before making a foolish deal with the Kings.

All that said, happy Fourth of July.

Twentieth Century Fox

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