Reports: Hedo Changed His Mind, Likely to Become a Toronto Raptor

** This post will be regularly updated as news comes in **

In a complete about-face from this morning's initial report, Hedo Turkoglu and the Portland Trail Blazers no longer have an agreement in principle in place.  

Questions about the agreement were first mentioned by Ric Bucher on ESPNews and later raised by Jason Quick of The Oregonian.

Multiple reports now cite the Toronto Raptors as Hedo Turkoglu's likely destination, with a potential deal in the neighborhood of 5 years and $56 million, an offer that Portland cannot easily match.

This turn of events is a crushing blow to the carefully-laid free agency plans of Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan.

ESPN summarizes the turn of events...

After ESPN.com reported the agreement in principle, several news organizations confirmed it, using sources. Late Friday afternoon, the Oregonian reported that Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard and Turkoglu's agent, Lon Babby, had not confirmed the deal, but that talks were continuing.    

Jason Quick of the Oregonian is reporting...

After a hectic 24 hours of face-to-face negotiations, The Oregonian has learned that free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu rejected the Trail Blazers' $50 million offer and announced he will look for another team.

"He's not coming,'' a source familiar with the negotiations said Friday evening.

In the end, it wasn't the money, it wasn't the team, and it wasn't the length of the contract.

"It just wasn't the right fit,'' the source said. "When you are talking about that much money, everybody involved has to feel great. If you don't on either side, it doesn't work.''

ESPN's Ric Bucher reported that Turkoglu's wife played a major factor in the decision

David Aldridge of NBA.com is reporting...

An already crazy free agent period in the NBA got downright bizarre on Friday, with the supposed sure deal between free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu and the Portland Trail Blazers falling apart late in the afternoon, with the veteran seriously contemplating taking an offer from the Toronto Raptors that may be in excess of the five-year, $50 million proposal the Blazers have had on the table since the start of the negotiating period on Wednesday.

"He won't be coming" to Portland, a league source said late Friday.    

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting...

Free agent Hedo Turkoglu has backed out of his commitment to the Portland Trail Blazers and plans to sign with the Toronto Raptors, a source close to the talks told Yahoo! Sports on Friday night.

Turkoglu had agreed on a five-year, $50 million deal with the Blazers, but changed his mind and could be headed for a five-year, $56 million deal with the Raptors.

ESPN.com and Ric Bucher now report...

Free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu has broken off negotiations with the Portland Trail Blazers, a source told ESPN's Ric Bucher on Friday night.

Yahoo! Sports reported that Turkoglu backed out of his earlier commitment and has his sights set on Toronto. Yahoo! Sports reported that Toronto can offer Turkoglu about $6 million more than Portland, but would have to trim its roster to do it.

Friday night, a report from the National Post newspaper in Canada said Turkoglu was close to signing with the Raptors, who could have to consider renouncing the rights to free agents Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino.    

Bruce Arthur of the National Post writes....

The Toronto Raptors are very close to signing Orlando Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu as a free agent, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The franchise had been weighing the move for days, and it was even reported yesterday by numerous outlets that the Turkish forward had signed with the Portland Trail Blazers.

But Turkoglu broke off negotiations with Portland late in the evening, and appeared headed for Toronto. The Raptors could offer a deal beginning around US$10-million per year for as much as five years, with annual raises bringing the contract's maximum total to somewhere near US$56-million.

The deal does require Toronto to gut the team's roster depth, since Turkoglu's deal will force the team to renounce the rights to free agents Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker, and Carlos Delfino. It may also force the Raptors to forgo the use of the mid-level exception, which was about US$5.5-million last year.    

Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, who confirmed ESPN's report this morning, now writes...

Hours after agreeing in principle to a five-year contract with the Trail Blazers, free agent Hedo Turkoglu abruptly ceased negotiations and appears headed to the Toronto Raptors, a person directly involved in the negotiations told CBSSports.com.

"Hedo is headed to Toronto," said the person, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the talks. "To sign."

But after a whirlwind day in which Turkoglu and his representative, Lon Babby, gave a verbal commitment to sign with the Blazers -- or were done in by what one rival executive termed "too many leaks and not enough info" -- determining Turkoglu's final landing spot is best left to those getting the signatures.

The situation was rapidly unfolding, and it was unclear Friday night whether Turkoglu had second thoughts or Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo swooped in and played his trump card -- the fact that Turkoglu and his wife were said to prefer landing in Toronto.     

Henry Abbott has just posted the following...

Then, according to sources, something crazy happened. Hedo Turkoglu shifted course, deciding late in the day that he wanted a different house. 

The Raptors had been serious in their pursuit of Shawn Marion and Carlos Delfino. Now the most likely scenario is that they'll be renounced or traded, along with Anthony Parker. To clear the kind of cap room that would be required to sign Turkoglu would probably take renouncing every free agent Toronto has, including Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Jake Voskuhl and some cap holds from players overseas. That would give the Raptors room to offer Turkoglu more money than Portland was offering -- although there are plenty of details left to be worked out, especially as Toronto may first try to trade some of those players instead of letting them go for nothing.

Toronto, as a roster and a city, offer an international flavor that Portland does not have. And with similar money, that proved more appealing than anyone had thought it would.

As for the Blazers? Well, no one likes wasting all that time almost getting a deal done. But there are worse thing than being back on the market, with nearly $9 million a year to spend. 

More from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. He writes..

The details of how Turkoglu would wind up with the Raptors were sketchy. But given the fact that Toronto had already engaged in discussions about re-signing Marion and Delfino -- with varying degrees of progress -- signs pointed to a more complicated sign-and-trade avenue. That would entail multiple parties signing on, including the Magic, who have quietly stayed in the background of Turkoglu's quest for a new home after acquiring Vince Carter from the Nets last week to protect themselves against losing him. Such a scenario could drag on for days because of the moving parts involved, and the person familiar with Turkoglu's decision to spurn the Blazers for the Raptors did not know the details of how it would be worked out.

It is believed that Turkoglu's preference for Toronto was not the only factor. As always, money was the other, according to a source. In order to trump Portland's expected five-year, $50 million offer, Toronto would've needed to renounce its rights to Marion, Delfino, and Parker. Doing so would've allowed the Raptors to exceed the max Portland could pay by about $800,000 annually. It wasn't clear Friday night whether Portland drove a harder bargain after seeing Toronto's options dwindle; whether Colangelo swooped in with an 11th-hour bid; or whether Turkoglu's camp simply had second thoughts or believed it could get a better deal from the Raptors.

If anything was clear in this bizarre negotiation, it was that Turkoglu's discussions with the Blazers appeared irreparably broken.

"It's called an agreement in principle," one source said in describing the agreement between Turkoglu and the Blazers, without elaborating.    

UPDATE (8:40PM): MICHAEL GRANGE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL SAYS HEDO IS CONFIRMED AS A RAPTOR.

In a sudden rush at the end of a frenzied week, the Toronto Raptors have remade their roster and signed free-agent forward Hedo Turkoglu, The Globe and Mail has confirmed.

The versatile Orlando Magic forward appeared poised to sign with the Portland Trail Blazers until a late bid by the Raptors -- in excess of $50-million over five seasons for the 30 year-old -- caused the change of heart, even as Turkoglu was in Portland visiting with the Trail Blazers.

Turkoglu had agreed on a five-year, $50-million (all currency U.S.) deal with the Blazers, but will sign with the Raptors for more than $10-million a season. Signing Turkoglu means the Raptors will have to renounce their rights to their existing free agents - Shawn Marion, Carlos Delfino and Anthony Parker - to create the cap space for Turkoglu.

ESPN.com is now reporting...

Free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu changed his mind Friday, deciding not to join the Portland Trail Blazers, opting instead to accept an offer from the Toronto Raptors, sources told ESPN.com.

The Raptors last-minute bid will give Turkoglu all of the salary-cap space they will get by renouncing their rights to Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino. The Raptors expect to have about $10.1 million in cap space to give to Turkoglu for his first-year salary; he would get an eight percent annual raise over the next four seasons of the deal, a source told ESPN.com.

The Raptors have until July 7 to renounce Marion, Delfino and Parker, so it remains a possibility and that a sign-and-trade deal could take shape. But as of now, it is straight up deal between Turkoglu and Toronto.
Turkoglu's decision to go to the Raptors sent shock waves throughout the NBA as he apparently became the first player to renege on an agreement in principal since Carlos Boozer left Cleveland for Utah in 2004.    

Bruce Arthur of the National Post now writes...

Make no mistake, this is a gamble. This is a roll of the dice in so many ways that the Raptors might as well put a roulette table at the end of the bench. That bench, incidentally, will now consist of a 6-foot-6 growler, a second-year point guard who looks 15, a guy whose nickname is Hump, and rotation players to be named later.

Yes, the Toronto Raptors, as they will soon be constituted, will be Chris-Bosh-as-a-rookie-thin, and short on stuff like rebounding and defence. But the pending acquisition of free agent Hedo Turkoglu is also a coup for a team whose relevance will be continue to be questioned until it makes some playoff noise. And it is sure as hell more likely to do that now that the team is very close to an agreement with Turkoglu, the 6-foot-10 forward from the Orlando Magic, as first reported Friday night by the National Post.

Bill Simmons tweets...

Hedo changed his mind in Portland after seeing Greg Oden limp towards him for a handshake. (Waiting.) What, too soon?

Seriously: Portland, you dodged a bullet. Hedo peaked 2 years ago. He might be 33 for all we know. You're better off. Trust me.

Mike Barrett writes...

... According to one very reliable source, I can tell you that Portland's part in this is over.

The Raptors are in a position to be able to reportedly offer Turkoglu a 5-year deal, worth over $56 million. The Blazers probably could get in a position to match that, but it wouldn't be easy, and I'm glad they're not trying to get there. As I'm sure you know, it's believed the Blazers were offering 5-years, $50 mill. 

Sometimes it's simply about money, and it appears this is one of those cases. That's not being critical of Turkoglu at all, that's just the way it is. He said as much at PDX Thursday afternoon upon arriving.

...

As others have reported, including ESPN's Ric Bucher, Turkoglu's wife apparently strongly favored Toronto over Portland, because of its international population and culture. Of course, we can't confirm at this point if that was truly a factor. I can confirm that she wasn't with him on this trip to Portland, so I'm not sure what she had to comp are it to. Either way, it doesn't matter now.    

UPDATE (9:45PM): Mike Barrett's post linked above has been pulled from Blazers.com.

UPDATE (9:57PM): To view a PDF of the blog post that was removed from Mike Barrett's blog, click here.

Tim Chisholm of TSN.CA writes...

I'm stunned.
 
Not because Hedo Turkoglu reneged on his deal with Portland, because all indications are that there was, in fact, no deal agreed upon.

Not because of the amount of money Hedo is being paid, because while it's more than he's worth it's the way the free agent game gets played.

UPDATE: (10:12PM) DAVID ALDRIDGE OF NBA.COM WRITES TURKOGLU HAS MADE VERBAL COMMITMENT TO TORONTO RAPTORS. 5 YEARS AND MORE THAN $60 MILLION.

Here's the link.

An already crazy free agent period in the NBA got downright bizarre on Friday, with the supposed sure deal between Orlando free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu and the Portland Trail Blazers falling apart late in the afternoon, and the veteran, late Friday evening, making a verbal commitment to the Toronto Raptors on a five-year deal that will pay him in excess of $60 million, according to league sources.

Turkoglu's change of heart--he was in Portland Thursday and Friday, meeting with team officials along with his agent, Lon Babby--came after the Raptors decided to do what they had been reluctant to do until then--renounce their rights to several of their own free agents, including forward Shawn Marion and guards Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino, in order to create the more than $10 million in cap room necessary to make a superior offer to Portland's.

A league source divulged late Friday that Portland's offer to Turkoglu was actually $57 million over five years, not the $50 million that has been reported. But by deciding to renounce their rights to the free agents, the Raptors can give Turkoglu a deal averaging more than $12 million annually. They only have a little more than $48 million committed for next season, including the first-year salary of rookie swingman DeMar DeRozan, taken ninth overall.    

Ric Bucher now reports...

Free agent forward Hedo Turkoglu changed his mind Friday and decided not to join the Portland Trail Blazers, opting instead to accept a five-year $53 million offer from the Toronto Raptors, sources told ESPN.com.
The decision left the Blazers livid and was a huge coup for the Raptors, who have promised Turkoglu all of the salary-cap space they will have from renouncing their rights to Shawn Marion, Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino, which will likely add up to a starting salary in the $10.1 million range, with eight percent annual raises.

...

Turkoglu will make about $3 million more over the life of the contract than he would have made in Portland, but a bigger reason for his change of heart, a source told ESPN.com, was his desire to play in Toronto, a more international and cosmopolitan city -- one with a large Turkish population -- and his familiarity with the Eastern Conference after having spent the last five seasons with the Magic.

Turkoglu's about-face sent shockwaves throughout the NBA, and parallels were being drawn between his decision and the 2004 episode when Carlos Boozer reneged on a deal to re-sign with Cleveland after they released him from his contract, then stunned the Cavs by signing with Utah. The difference in this case, according to one person with detailed knowledge of the discussions, was that Turkoglu did not intentionally or unintentionally deceive the Blazers, but instead had a change of heart after giving the Blazers his word.    

John Hollinger opines on ESPN Insider... 

Anyone who saw the footage of Hedo Turkoglu meeting Blazers bigwigs at Portland International Airport on Thursday had to get a little bit of a weird feeling. Especially any married guys. Turkoglu came alone, amid rumors that his wife very strongly preferred to be in Toronto, and I remember thinking at that very moment that the Blazers recruiting pitch was doomed to failure. It was going to be tough to sell her on the charms of Portland if she wasn't there.

Thus, despite two days of Chamber of Commerce weather here in the Rose City, replete with blue skies and Mt. Hood views, and tours of the Blazers' first-rate training facility in Tualatin, Turkoglu isn't coming to the Blazers. After an 11th-hour Boozerang that will forever immortalize him as "Hedon't" in the local vernacular, the Turkoglus are heading to Toronto instead -- a place they never visited on this free-agent tour, apparently because they didn't need to be sold on it.
...

As for the Blazers, they can go in several directions from here, and can at least take comfort in the fact that they control the free-agent game until they make their next move. Portland might want to go after Sessions, a good young point guard who fills their need for a second quality pick-and-roll player -- albeit at a different position than Turkoglu.

They may also decide to punt on free agency and hope to play the trade market, but that's a risky strategy. If they don't get something done by the trade deadline, the opportunity will basically be gone forever because next year extensions for Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge will kick in, and it's not clear that somebody will come available who fits what they need.

They might also try to make a long-shot run at Lamar Odom, perhaps the best player left on the board and one who, like Turkoglu, could provide another offensive creator while swinging between the two forward spots. But the rainy weather and a location 90 minutes inland don't exactly jibe with Odom's stated preference to live on the beach. The most likely outcome of an Odom pursuit would be driving up the price for the rival Lakers.

Alternatively, the Blazers could try to target a Sixth Man shot creator like New York's Nate Robinson, or make a run at Philadelphia's Andre Miller, the latter not a great fit in my opinion, but a possibility given their need at the point.

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

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