This article appears in the Feb. 22 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
He seemed sad, sitting there in the corner of the visitors' locker room at
Madison Square Garden. Speaking in a heavy, hushed tone, Hedo Turkoglu was
comparing past with present. And past was kicking present's butt. The
Raptors' prize off-season pickup had no idea that changing teams would also
mean changing fortunes. "Playing-wise, this is the toughest adjustment I've
had to make in my career," said Turkoglu, a 10-year vet. "I'm not happy with
the way I'm playing."
There's a fair amount of that going around. Turkoglu is just one of several
big names struggling to fit in.
Vince Carter, the man who replaced Turkoglu in Orlando, has been outplayed
by J.J. Redick recently and averaged just 8.7 ppg on 28% shooting in
January. He is also routinely benched in fourth quarters. In San Antonio,
Richard Jefferson has failed to provide the athletic spark or stout defense
needed to put the Spurs at eye level with the Lakers. And if you go back two
years, you can see one of the most disastrous free agent signings in league
history, Elton Brand. Instead of making the Sixers contenders, Brand -- and his
$80 million -- has made them duds.
On paper, each of those players boosts the talent level of his new team. So
why has that not translated to on-court wins? "It's about fit," says Pacers
GM David Morway. "It's much more complicated than getting good players."