Ken Berger: Blazers Making "Strong Push" For Hedo

From Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

Determined to make the first splash of the NBA's free-agent negotiating period early Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers are making a strong push to sign Hedo Turkoglu, the prized free agent of the summer.

While negotiations across the league were in the early stages, a person with knowledge of the discussions said the Blazers are trying to lure Turkoglu with a deal in the $50-million range. Contracts cannot be signed until July 7, when the annual moratorium on signing and trading players is lifted.

Going solely off tonight's reports, it appears two of the brightest GMs in the league -- Daryl Morey and Kevin Pritchard -- have slightly different plans for the 2009 Free Agency period.  While Morey has taken the novel approach of setting up a free gmail account to lure a potential free agent, Pritchard appears to be taking the tried and true route of ....... overpaying by 20%.

Only kidding.  Still a long way to go. 

Update (11:06PM): Jason Quick writes...

The Trail Blazers' summer agenda was revealed late Tuesday night at the minute the free agent market opened. That's when general manager Kevin Pritchard and assistant general manager Tom Penn called agent Lon Babby to begin the courtship of small forward Hedo Turkoglu.

"Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn called me at the earliest possible moment and expressed enthusiasm for engaging in discussions about Hedo becoming a Trail Blazer," Babby said late Tuesday night. "We have begun that process."

As if there was any doubt before, now we know who Berger's source was.

Here's Mike Barrett's pre-emptive strike against agent-created hysteria.  

Going off simply what I've heard from league sources (and from no one on our executive team, I assure you), it sounds like catch o' the day for the Blazers will be Hedo Turkoglu. This isn't news to you, I realize. And, we're about to find out if all we've heard has been even the least bit accurate.

When it comes to trade rumors, or rumors of a big signing in the NBA, it's often true, where there's smoke there's usually fire. But, this isn't always the case. Again, the agents have PR machines at their finger tips, and they've become masters at selling high. In short, the illusion they create often becomes real.

This is truly Contract Negotiation 2.0 we are witnessing.

Update (11:36 PM):

Bill Ingram from HoopsWorld.com writes about Dwight Howard's take on Hedo.  

 Magic center Dwight Howard put in his two cents on ESPN Radio in Orlando today.

"I really would love for Hedo to stay, I really do. I believe that we can believe a championship. We came so close and we're right here. I really want Hedo to stay. He's been a big part in my development as a player and I hope he stays around. I think that lineup would be great...Hopefully he stays around. He's been here since I've been here so it's a little bit of a sad day because you're losing so many people that you basically grew up with, that's how I look at it. Since I've played, I've grown up since I was 18 until now and seeing some of those guys leave, it hurts."

Update (11:47PM):

Brother Wendell Maxey from HoopsWorld.com weighs in.

Portland needs to solve their point guard dilemma. Portland needs to address how they are going to cope at power forward when Aldridge isn't on the floor. Portland needs veterans sprinkled about the other open roster spots. When the salary cap number is announced next week and General Manager Kevin Pritchard knows exactly (estimated at $8 million under the cap) what the organization can spend the need even then is to spend wisely.

Even if Portland wants Hedo, they don't necessarily need him.

More Brother Wendell Maxey on BeyondTheBeat.Net.

I'm hearing - regardless what occurs this offseason in free agency or trades - it's now about survival of the fittest for the Blazers. Portland is moving on from the rebuilding project from a couple seasons back and it's now time to separate the boys from the men.

So look for the Blazers to, "go after the best out there and let them fight it out" as one person in the know told me recently.

UPDATE (11:59PM):

Twitter reaction to this evening's news is out of control. [Follow BE on Twitter here] Here's a sampling:

@calebteaches: Hedo makes our logjam at the 3 worse and doesn't solve the 1 or 4. In KP we trust, I guess. He's a nice piece, but... eh.     
@sit2988: KP's my boy and all but I'm saying... If Turk gets longer than a 3-year deal I'm just not sure if I'm feelin it.
@Rochi516: Portland will be a force if Hedo comes. Then Andre Miller will follow. Watch out for Portland in the west.
@wastro: Assuming PDX signs Hedo ... more small forwards in '09-10 - ATL or PDX?    
@Sabonis4Ever: It will be worth signing hedo if we win game 7 of the finals on a bank shot 3.    
@stevesandberg Is John Nash giving away free money again? SandbergOnSports.com
@pdxxxchange: Hedo=big matchup problems for all teams. match-up probs=rings... Ask Houston Dallas or Orlando.... they all went to the 2nd rnd
@adanies: 3x30 or 4x40 is cool with me. 5x50 screams albatross. Don't like the sound of "Hedo Turkoglu's Expiring Contract."
@dhawes: it's better to overpay than to do nothing
@clipperblog: Thoughts on Hedo: Will allow Nate the flexibility to do a lot of cool stuff. 4 guys who can handle the ball, each with a different look. (The esteemed Kevin Arnovitz of TrueHoop and Clipper Blog fame)
@thanathz: Hedo to Blazers, great news. Be a great association w/Roy. What about Webster and Outlaw ? Batum as a nice place as back-up
@benias: not a big fan of wasting all this cap space on him. I would rather have Lamar odom. Let's go D.Harris!
@teemunny: Hedo Turkoglu for $50 million?! Don't do it, Portland, it's not worth it.
@allthatamar: hedo on portland makes portland that much better -- but what will the fate of outlaw, rudy et al. be? only so much PT @ sg/sf   All That Jazz.com
@kevinjbonn:  I sure prefer Hedo over Miller.
@martinrickman: takes some of the heat off the young guns, will in turn make them better and more productive.
@talkhoops: Hedo's potential arrival in Portland isn't what will put them over the top. But with him and the progression of Brandon Roy...Greg Oden, and LaMarcus Aldridge this Blazers team all of a sudden becomes too dangerous for their own good. TalkHoops.Net
@cave17matt: Not in favor of it myself, rather go for Devin Harris and/or a backup 4. Cave17.com
@jrledoux: Don't think Blazer's fans will be able to stomach Hedo for $50 mil... Will take a lot to not see it as a Whitsit move.
@scooterhd2: funny how quick Quick shows up
@northwestjeff: if kidd can play til he's 34, why can't Turkoglu? value goes down with bigger contract, but he's a solid player 
@philthyanimal: i like hedo as a player, but i can't picture him fitting in our system unless we adapt. hes great but is he the mising piece?
@justin_pdx: Berger hasn't broken a story in years. Turk's agent's been whispering $50M to lazy reporters for weeks. Smokescreen.
@ezra_ace: for $50 mil they better throw in Dwight Howard and a slightly used Lil Penny shirt.    

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)

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