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Analysis: Hedo Turkoglu And Josh Childress To Suns

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So much for sitting back and waiting to see what opportunities might become available at the trade deadline or next summer.

The Suns shocked the known world today by trading Leandro Barbosa to the Toronto Raptors for Hedo Turkoglu while also acquiring 6-foot-8 swingman Josh Childress from the Hawks in a sign-and-trade that only cost the Suns a future second-round pick. The contract of Dwayne Jones was reportedly also included in the deal with the Raptors, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, who first broke the news.

That's the deal(s). Now, let's take a deep breath and over-react with some initial thoughts and analysis.

The On-Court Impact

This will be interesting to say the least, and anything I am about to write is snap-reaction and will likely change through training camp and the preseason.

The Rotation

According to Coro's report, Hedo will start for the Suns at the power forward position, which pushes Hakim Warrick to the bench, where he's played most of his career. We can also assume that Robin Lopez would start at center with Channing Frye backing him up. Behind those four players would be Earl Clark and perhaps Gani Lawal or even Dwayne Collins if he impresses in training camp.

At the small forward, the Suns would certainly continue to start Grant Hill, but perhaps try and limit his minutes to about 20 or 25 per game. Jared Dudley would back him up, along with Earl Clark and Josh Childress.

One would imagine that Childress would split time in the small forward rotation and could also play behind Jason Richardson at shooting guard. It should be noted that J-Rich only has one year left on his contract.

Having Josh under contract for the next five years could make Jason more expendable and perhaps the kind of trade piece that could be used down the road to acquire a big name player should one become available.

Front Court Rebounding and Defense

The immediate concern with a front line that would start Hedo as a stretch four next to Robin Lopez is rebounding. Turkoglu has almost always played the small forward position during this career. He's averaged only 4.3 rebounds per game over his 10-year career.

While he is 6-foot-10, he's is not a particularly big and strong player, so it is hard to imagine how he will fare against the likes of Pau Gasol, Blake Griffin or Dirk Nowitzki.

SB Nation's Orlando Magic blogger Evan Dunlap has plenty of experience watching Hedo and had this to say in response to my e-mailed question about Hedo's potential to defend and rebound the power forward position.

I'm inclined to think that Turk would get killed at PF on defense, because he's not particularly strong. But watching him in Orlando, he's actually not terrible. He's smart. Knows where to send his guy, knows what to take away. And he's not a guy who takes plays off defensively...But he may pleasantly surprise you on defense. 

But as a rebounder? Forget it. He's one of the worst rebounders at his size in NBA history. He'll get you the occasional 8-board game, but in no way is he a glass eater, especially not when he leaks out in transition and calls for the ball so he can run the break.
With Hedo at the four, Robin will be asked to take on a lot of responsibility in the paint and the Suns wings will have to attack the glass. Fortunately, both things were true last season as well and it worked out pretty well in those 31 games that Lopez started

When Lopez is off the floor, the Suns will be hard-pressed to play Frye and Hedo together on the front line. Unfortunately, Hakim Warrick is also an undersized power forward who's only averaged 7.4 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is 2 fewer than Amare Stoudemire.

While rookies Gani Lawal and Dwayne Collins might develop into solid defensive and rebounding options at the power forward position, it is unreasonable to assume they will contribute much in their first year in the league. It takes players time to adapt and learn how to defend at the NBA level.

So basically, of the Suns' top four front line rotation players, there is only one big, powerful defensive player and then three other guys who will be smaller and less physical than much of the competition they face. Unless another move is made, this will be the Suns biggest weakness going into the season.

Perimeter Defense

The good news is that Childress will provide a fantastic defensive presence on the perimeter. If Grant Hill should go down to injury (he is 38 years old), then Josh can step into the starting line-up. Otherwise, he can provide a fantastic option backing up Jason Richardson at shooting guard and sharing time with Jared Dudley at small forward. 

Grant Hill only has one year left on his contract, so it is entirely feasible that down the road Hedo will move back to his natural small forward position if the Suns can find a good option at power forward.

With these moves, Earl Clark will once again be fighting for minutes. If he can develop as the Suns hope, he adds yet another defensive option for big skilled players like Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki. The jury is still out on Clark, though, and certainly he will take time to reach his potential.

It should also be noted that Jared Dudley becomes a restricted free agent after this season.

Overall, the combination of Hill, Dudley, Childress, Dragic and perhaps Clark will give the Suns solid defensive options on the perimeter. In fact, this has the potential to be the best perimeter defensive unit that Suns have fielded in a long time.

Offensive Options

Where Hedo excels is on the offensive end of the floor. He is a creative ball-handler who somehow manages to make the most of his less-than-stellar athleticism to manufacture opportunities for himself and others. In his final two years in Orlando, he averaged over five assists per game.

Hedo is very much a point-forward who can assume some of those responsibilities when Hill moves on and is a fantastic pick-and-roll player, but unlike Amar'e Stoudemire -- who was the roll man -- Hedo acts as the ball handler. Teams are not used to having to defend that kind of play from a big man. Imagine trying to defend a Hedo/Robin or Hedo/Warrick pick-and-roll?

Hedo is a career .383 3-point shooter who is known for his ability to hit big shots. Playing the power forward, he will draw one big man out of the paint which creates driving lanes for other players or even space for Robin Lopez to work in the post (assuming his post game continues to develop).

Because of his versatility, the Suns can move him to the small forward and play Robin Lopez, Channing Frye and Hedo together which could be deadly when combined with slashers like Jason Richardson, Goran Dragic and Josh Childress.

These are huge changes and you can expect the Suns will take some time to figure out how to get the most out of Hedo and Josh on the offensive end of the floor.

The Money

Childress' Money

The contract that Childress reportedly agreed to is $33 million over five years, which, in the scheme of such things, seems fair for a player of Josh's talents. A $6.6 million average for a guy who can play for the shooting guard and small forward and is known as an excellent perimeter defender who can also shoot the ball pretty well.

The Suns will reportedly use a portion of their trade exception to get Childress. After this transaction, they should still have about $6 million in trade exception left to use elsewhere.

Turkoglu's Money

Turkoglu was one of the more coveted free agents last summer when he turned down an offer from the Portland Trail Blazers to take a five year, $52.8 million deal from the Raptors. He is set to make $9.8 million this season with annual increases taking his salary to $12 million in the final year of the deal (2012/13).

According to the respected web site Sham Sports, Hedo's deal includes a 15 percent trade kicker and the final year of the deal has an early termination clause. Trade kickers can generally be waived by the player and considering that he asked to be traded, one can imagine it will be here. Hedo, who's real name is Hidayet, is 31 years old, meaning he will be 35 in his final year of that contract.

Barbosa's Contract

Leandro Barbosa will make $7.1 million this season and has a player option for the following season for $7.6 million. Dwayne Jones' non-guaranteed contract is for just under $1 million for next season.

Netting it Out

In these two contracts, the Suns are taking on $73.8 million in new contract obligations while giving up $14.7 million owed Barbosa. That's a net of $59.1 million in long-term salary. Add to that Channing Frye's $30 million and Hakim Warrick's $18 million and the Suns' "cheap" owner has spent $110.1 million since July 1.

I don't even begin to know how to react to that.

For this coming season, the Suns will have roughly $61 million in total salary, which is still $8 million under the luxury tax line. That includes 11 players under contract and does not include Taylor Griffin, Gani Lawal, Dwayne Collins or anyone else the team might want to bring in. The Suns can easily sign three or four of those minimum salary guys for about $500,000 each or they can sign a player at the veterans' minimum and still be well under the tax line. I would expect them to find an inexpensive point guard to add to the roster, as well, to provide depth there.

Initial Reaction

The Josh Childress deal is fantastic. He's a dynamic player who's been coveted by many teams and, at 27 years old, is coming into his prime. To get him for only a second-round pick is a steal. He provides depth at two positions that both happen to be occupied by guys (Hill and Richardson) who have only one year left on their contracts. Childress is a player who can and should start for an NBA team, unlike a role player like Jared Dudley, who is best in a reserve role.

Childress will make the Suns better defensively and, if he can improve his 3-point shooting from his career average of .360, then he can fit nicely with the Suns as a spot-up shooter. His .522 overall field goal shooting in four years with the Atlanta Hawks is the sign of a highly efficient offensive player, which is exactly what the Suns covet.

A+ for pulling off this deal.

Hedo Turkuglo is going to take some more convincing. He's a unique player, but as stated above, will likely struggle defensively at the power forward and create even more problems on the defensive glass.

If he eventually moves back to small forward when Hill retires and the Suns find a better option to start at the four, then that will probably make more sense. In the meantime, there are concerns over a guy who chose as a free agent to go to Toronto and then asked to be traded after only one season. A friend of mine who covered the Raptors this season responded with "good luck" when I asked if he was a good guy.

At 31 years old, with four years left on his contract, this is a much bigger risk. I can't help but think of another 6-foot-10 foreign player (Peja Stojakovic) who signed a long-term deal with the Hornets that has turned into a giant drain on their team. That's the worst-case scenario. Of course, with news that the Suns' head trainer Aaron Nelson has also re-signed with the Suns for four more years, we can hope that the healing magic continues and Hedo remains productive.

Trading Leandro Barbosa is a wise move. His time here had run its course and with the development of Goran Dragic, his services became redundant. He is a great teammate and fantastic person and for those reasons will be missed, but losing him isn't a big blow to the team's on-court potential.

There's a lot of unanswered questions with Hedo and this deal could go either way. It could prove to be a fantastic move if he stays healthy and plays well or it could certainly be a bust.

I am giving this deal a C.

Once again, the Suns prove to be a team willing to make moves and shake things up. There's never a dull moment and if nothing else, there will be plenty to talk about when the team takes the court in October.