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2014-2015 Exit Interviews: A Loving Farewell to Hedo

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We bid a (likely) fond farewell to the Clippers' eldest statesman and discover the real reasons behind the undershirt.

The Vitals

Name: Hidayet "Hedo" Turkoglu

Age: 36

Cholesterol Levels: Probably not that good, considering his pre-game dietary habits.

Years in NBA: 15

Years with Clippers: 2

2014-2015 Salary: $1.4 million. More than Big Baby, Hassan Whiteside, Joc Pederson and the President of the United States. And that doesn't even include the endorsement deals.

Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

Top-Line Stats: 11.4 MPG; 3.7 PPG; 0.6 APG; 1.6 RPG;

Key Stats: 44% FG%; 43% 3P% (60.1% eFG%); 104.3 DefRtg (Points Allowed Per 100 Possessions When Player Is On The Court).

In A Nutshell

"Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."– Satchel Paige

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."– C.S. Lewis

"Doc, you should read these inspirational quotes I found online about aging. They really make you re-evaluate things!!!"– Hedo Turkoglu, in an apparently compelling email to Doc Rivers on eve of fall training camp, 2014.

You're going to miss Hedo. Not in the practical, on-court sense of course. Not in the way you missed Darren Collison this season, or Eric Bledsoe the season before, or Reggie Evans the season before that. The sentence "We could have really used Hedo in this spot right now" hopefully will be as improbable for Clipper fans in 2015-2016 as "How the hell did Wes Johnson become our starting 3?" and "Looks like Okafor was a good pick."

You're going to miss Hedo for sentimental reasons. Barring a mid-summer Javale McGee pickup or a sign-and-trade for Dion Waiters, the 2014-2015 Clipper squad may go down in NBA history as the winningest team with the most players the national media and the internet loved to make fun of. Hawes (mostly deserved), Baby (mostly self-induced), Austin (mostly his dad's fault), and Hedo were walking punchlines for much of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs.

A strange thing happens when the players on your team become national memes of ridicule. Even when you initially don't like them, you often end up pulling for them. Because you actually watch the games, you know their flaws are often exaggerated and their merits under-appreciated because nuance doesn't  easily conform with national narratives. Baby has been a solid backup big since he arrived here, and Mike Breen shouldn't be so "surprised" at his performance against the Spurs. Austin was bad, but not as comically bad as his regular season gifs would make him out to be.

And, even if you shuddered when we re-signed him in September or threw up in your mouth when Doc ominously hinted he was saving him for the playoffs, you knew Hedo wasn't THAT terrible. No, he shouldn't have been playing significant minutes for a contender, and yes, he was awful defensively and became a walking symbol of our lack of depth at the wing.

But Hedo shot it well this year. He hit 43% from deep. In that stretch when Barnes and Crawford were injured in March, he played decently, including a knockout-game against Sacramento in which he went 5 of 10 from three and scored 19. He was also constantly praised from everyone from J.J. to DeAndre for being a fantastic teammate.

I hope Hedo isn't with us next year. But I'll also remember that, along with Chris to DeAndre lobs and Blake dunks, the Hedo step-back three was arguably the most demoralizing thing any Clipper could do to an opponent.

Farwell, Hedo. It will be bittersweet watching you lead the Lakers in scoring next year.

Strengths

Shooting and team chemistry. Hedo was second on the team in three-point percentage for players who averaged at least two attempts per game, shooting at a higher clip than Paul, Barnes or Crawford. Although that didn't really translate to the postseason.

Turk also seemed to be universally beloved by his teammates, except during those moments in the DeAndre brainfart Portland game when Chris Paul threatened to kill his entire bloodline for icing him during some free throws.

Weaknesses

Defense. Watching Hedo guard the opposition's athletic wing was like watching a fourth-grader forget the lines to his monologue in the class play. He's embarrassed, his parents are embarrassed, the audience is embarrassed, even Lebron is kind of embarrassed as he blows past the fourth-grader on the way to an uncontested dunk. One-on-one defense was a major Hedo liability (unless it suckered a team out of their normal schemes), as was closing out on three-point shooters–the man Hedo was guarding shot 2.7 percentage points better from three when Hedo was on him than other defenders.

Surprisingly though, some of the advance defensive metrics aren't that terrible for Hedo. According to NBA.com SportsVU data, shooters actually shot 1.3 percentage points worse when Hedo was guarding them than their normal percentage. I know it sounds more likely that Hedo's agent learned how to hack SportsVU than for that to actually be true, but that's what SportsVU says. Obviously part of that is the fact that the bulk of Hedo's minutes came against second and third-string wings or power forwards, and that Hedo was often hid defensively when possible on inferior offensive players.

The Undershirt

Speculation remains rampant about the reasons Hedo keeps rocking the undershirt beneath his jersey. I've thought about this alot, and have settled on the following five most logical explanations.

  1. Covers embarrassing "Dwight and Hedo and Orlando Forever 2010 Champs" tattoo he inked during the Eastern Conference finals.
  2. Covers other embarrassing "lipstick mark" tattoo he got while dating hip-hop star Trina, out of respect for Kenyon Martin.



  3. Tired of shaving shoulders to conform to NBA gender norms.
  4. Eczema.
  5. Donates each and every game-worn t-shirt to local Goodwill. Where it is immediately burned.

Future With Clippers

There's really no reason for Doc to bring Hedo back. But for the record, Hedo earlier this year indicated he didn't plan on retiring.

Favorite Moment

It rains liras once again in Sactown.