Hedo moves but not for the money

Hedo moves but not for the money

Hurriyet Daily News with wires
Hidayet "Hedo" Türkoğlu is on the verge of becoming the No. 1 Turkish sportsman in total income, but definitely for the right reasons.

Türkoğlu, who opted out of his $7.3 million a year contract with NBA finalists Orlando Magic last week, has agreed for a move to Toronto Raptors. The reported fee of $53 million for a five-year contract will make Hedo the top-earning Turkish athlete.

Türkoğlu, who averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game for the Magic last season, had been expected to come to terms with the Portland Trail Blazers, after spending Wednesday with Portland Coach Nate McMillan in Orlando, then flying to Portland for meetings with team management Thursday and Friday.

Sorry, Portland

Lon Babby, Türkoğlu’s attorney, held a late afternoon conference call Saturday afternoon, NBA.com Web site reported. Babby explained why Türkoğlu left the Blazers at the altar, holding an offer in excess of $10 million per season in their hands, to take Toronto's five-year proposal, which Babby said was for $53 millions. The deal can't be signed until the league sets its salary cap number for the 2009-10 season on Wednesday.

"This has been a difficult process for Hedo and his family," the atorney said at the conference. "He gave Portland a commitment that he would sign there.Portland, both the team and the city, did everything we asked them to do, and it's perfectly understandable if they feel a bit aggrieved."

The main reason behind Hedo’s decision might not be the money. "Toronto's offer was financially better than Portland's was but that wasn't the driver here," said Babby.

According to sources, Banu Türkoğlu, Hedo’s wife, wanted a move to Toronto, citing the significant Turkish population in the city.

"But at the end of the day, Hedo simply decided that Toronto was a better fit for him and his family. He wants to remain in the East and Toronto is a uniquely cosmopolitan community. He's looking forward to joining the Turkish community there."

And the Turkish community in Toronto is at least excited as the Türkoğlu family about the move.

About a dozen of members of the Toronto's Turkish community, about 15,000 strong when last counted during the 2006 census, gathered at the Nil Academy in Scarborough, reported The Toronto Star. The academy is a full-time Turkish school , which doubles as a community hub on weekends. "Last year was a disaster, but we're going to make the playoffs this year," Fatih Yegül, a member of the Canadian Turkish Friendship Community, one of Toronto's first Turkish organizations, was quoted by the paper.

A 15-year-old Turkish student of Nil Academy, İsa Çelik, was very excited. "He's one of the most dominant forwards in the NBA," he told the Toronto paper. " I personally think he's all-star material." An ear-bursting round of "Hedo" chants from his classmates followed.

Türkoğlu’s Toronto move also made at least one new teammate happy. Raptors forward Chris Bosh put out a Twitter message that said: "We got Hedo! Next season's gonna be a lot of fun."