Hedo Turkoglu interview at Suns media day. (Photo by Ryan Malone)
2 Total Updates since September 27, 2010
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
"Listen, I don't complain at all. I love it here, so it's been great. It's better waking up with the shorts and kind of wife-beaters then with sweats and sweaters," the Turkish Michael Jordan reported about his Arizona-appropriate sleeping attire.
Pajamas aside, the real question about Hedo will be his acclimation to the Phoenix offense and his comfort level playing next to and mostly behind Steve Nash when it comes to his most-favored role as facilitator.
Hedo, as with the dicey weather question, is saying the right things.
"I don't want people to think that like I'm going to come here and be the guy who wants the ball in my hands all the time and I'm going to cause problems to the other guys. Steve (Nash) is going to be our leader. He's going to run the show no matter what," he said.
"(Nash has) been doing great for how many years; he is leading the team in assists. I guess they think I can really help being versatile with this size (that) I can really create my own shot or for my teammates, too. So, I hope I can do that and make Steve's job a little bit easier."
That's exactly what Suns fans want to hear from Hedo Turkoglu. They want a guy who understands whose team this really is and is willing and able to fit in and do his part.
"A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist. That's how I want you to play," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski famously said. That's Phoenix Suns basketball at its finest.
For the Suns to once again overachieve expectations, that fist will need to be closed and not have Hedo Turkoglu sticking out like an obnoxious middle finger raised in disgust. That's the Hedo our friends in Toronto saw last season and for them, he showed that guy is still hanging around.
"I know I can really help in certain situation, because I was in the past, I was kind of facilitator. I can do that here too and I'll make some some other guys to get open shots. As long as I'm in the right situation, I know I can do good."
That's Hedo reminding us what he thinks the best situation for him is and letting us know that if that situation exists he can do good.
Now it's up to Alvin Gentry and Steve Nash to find the right balance for Hedo so he doesn't become the one-figured salute to Phoenix Suns basketball.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
When the Suns traded for Hidayet "Hedo" Turkoglu this summer, one of the first things we heard about was the pressure he was going to take off Steve Nash. Steve would be free now to play off the ball and use his fantastic shooting skills to drain threes while limiting the wear-and-tear on his aging body.
Not so fast.
Today at Suns' media day Coach, Gentry walked that back. I am sure he's had a chance to speak more with Mr. Nash and perhaps as a result, we are seeing a slight adjustment in the "Hedo as facilitator" storyline.
"I'm saying there are certain situations where (Nash) needs a break when he's handled the ball fifteen straight times or something. I think that's when Hedo or Goran and even J-Rich -- I think J-Rich sometimes can be somewhat of a facilitator," Gentry said.
Coach Gentry even joked about having Nash on the ball 92 percent of the time instead of 95 percent before chiding at least one writer (not me) to avoid using those specific percentages.
Semantics and percentages aside, Gentry, when given the opportunity, was quick to play up Nash's role and value as the team's point guard and downplay Hedo's role running the team.
"The problem that we have when we're talking about Steve having the ball less is that you're talking about really, in my opinion, the best point guard in the league. For the way we play, I wouldn't trade him for anyone," Gentry said.
"So to take him off the ball for an extended period of time doesn't seem like a wise thing to me. But there's going to be certain situations that we're going to ask him to become a shooter because he's also one of the best shooters in the NBA."
Gentry, for now, sees Hedo's role as similar to that of Boris Diaw when he was with the Suns. Hedo will get the ball in elbow isolations (as Amare often did) and but only occasionally on pick and rolls.
Turkoglu was most effective in Orlando when he was running the pick and roll and facilitating most of that team's offense. Will he be satisfied only getting limited chances to run the show?
Alvin Gentry is not a "My way or the highway" type of coach. He wants to try and keep his players -- especially his star players -- happy. Gentry doesn't force his will on guys as much as cajole them and push the guys who respond to being pushed and pull back from the guys who don't.
In both Nash and Turkoglu, he has two mature, strong-willed players who won't respond well to force. Keeping them both happy won't be easy.
The Nash/Hedo balance will be a big point of emphasis going into the season, with both guys wanting and needing the ball to be most effective. Turkoglu's primary gripe in Toronto was that he was being misused and not given the opportunity to facilitate the offense.
Gentry implied that Hedo will be used in more of a primary ball handler role when Nash is off the court, but that will also eat into Goran Dragic's time and effectiveness at the point.
And of course there's a question how much Nash will rest at all and he certainly didn't give any indication that he's ready to cut back his playing time.
"I feel great. I'm in as good as shape as I've ever been in. I don't feel like age is a factor, but I have to go out and prove that every night, though," Nash, who turns 36 in February, said.
The Suns strength headed into this season is their depth and versatility, but it has the potential to backfire as well if Gentry and Nash as the team's leaders aren't able to keep everyone (and themselves) on the same page. The hope is that the the Suns' vaunted chemistry will see them through the hard times.
"I think we should have great chemistry. We have great guys," Nash said. "We have unselfish guys that I think 'get it' and understand what it takes to be a good player and a good teammate and how important that is. I expect our chemistry to be one of our strengths."
Is Hedo Turkoglu really one of those guys and is he willing to sacrifice his game for Nash?
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
And so it begins, not with a whimper or a bang, but with a simple gathering of players in their new lighter, more breathable uniforms and a bunch of media types milling around hoping to get a good quote or a better sandwich.
That's how things are playing out all over the NBA today as teams kickoff the 2010-11 season with their formal media day events.
For those not versed in the fine dance that dictates such occasions, we will walk you through what happens at media days:
1) Pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. All those pictures that show up in posters, on tickets, on the sides of buses and trains -- they were most likely taken at media day in front of a white or green backdrop. And video, too.
You will see players posing with the ball in one hand, the ball in two hands, the ball behind their head and then in some action shots dribbling the ball. Coaches, too.
Here's an example:
2) Press conferences. This year, it was Steve Nash and Alvin Gentry who got up on the podium and answered insightful and brilliant questions (from me) and whatever other dumb crap the rest of the horde felt like bugging them about.
Just kidding -- I only asked one question and it was probably as dumb as the rest.
3) Media interviews. The rest of the players not important enough to make it to the podium mill around and wait for media types to walk up and ask some questions. Then a little later, different media types walk up and ask very similar questions. All the while the players smile and answer politely.
The rookies and young player seem to enjoy it (except for the ignored camp invitees that might not make the team and/or the media don't recognize, like Zabian Dowdell or Garret Siler).
Vets like Grant Hill strategically time their descent on the practice court (the venue for Suns media day) so as to not have to wait in line at the various photo stations and hence avoid answering the same questions from the local light rock radio station over and over.
Live radio and Suns.com webcast interviews are also going on, along with various TV stations doing their stand ups. For someone like me with a face for the Internet, it can be quite difficult to make sure you are constantly not in someone's shot. So, if you are watching Steve Nash and you see some guy in the background stuffing his face, you should try and not make too much fun of him -- especially if he's wearing a kind of orange and yellow print shirt.
4) Credentials. Season credentials are handed out to the media, along with T-shirts (this season) and a media guide for the preseason that has useful information like the exhibition game schedule and Robert Sarver's bio.
5) Free lunch. The Suns do a bang up job catering these types of things. Today, the menu included a variety of sandwiches, fruit, fruit salad, veggies, Caesar salad, a pasta salad, cookies, lemonade and water. This was the same menu for every other mid-day catered Suns event -- not that I am complaining in the least. Yum.
6) Mingling. And underrated part of media day is the "first day of school" vibe with various people (and players) saying hi and talking about their summers. Hands are shook and stories exchanged.
As for this season's Suns media day mood, there's not much to say. Seemed pretty normal.
Guys like Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley were talkative and having fun. Guys like Matt Janning and Dwayne Jones looked thrilled to just be there. Guys like Robin Lopez and Steve Nash put on a brave face and got through it without breaking anything (or anyone).
If you are looking for some clue as to how your team will perform in the regular season based on what happened today then I am going to have to disappoint you. Perhaps someone else can glean something from the shape of Josh Childress's hair that translates to more (or fewer) wins, but those are talents that I don't possess.
The team has now departed for San Diego, where they will spend the next week at training camp. They have a lot of work to do adjusting to the new players and figuring out rotations.
*photos by Ryan Malone, SB Nation Arizona
Audio from media day: