Hedo Turkoglu sees the end of his career coming. When the 2013 season starts, Turkoglu will be 34. The 13-year NBA veteran has two years left on his contract, with his $12 million salary only partially guaranteed in 2014. And, with Turkoglu struggling the last few years since his breakout 2009 Playoff performance, he might be thinking about how his NBA career will end.
Turkoglu does have a solid idea of how his playing career will end. He wants to return home to his native Turkey and give thanks to the fans that helped him start his career, he tells Hurriyet in Istanbul (translated via Google Translate):
Then you meet with a problem physically [when you] play a few more years. [My] last year I want to spend in Turkey. I want to finish my career in Turkey. I spend my last year in front of the Turkish people here, I want to thank them that way. Because they are the ones who brought me to this point.
Turkoglu is certainly not the first guy to consider ending his career in Europe. Dominique Wilkins looked like he would end his career in Europe in the mid-90s before he came back to play with the Celtics and Clippers. Kobe Bryant has explored the idea of finishing his playing career in Italy several times, including recently.
Turkoglu was one of the first players in the wave of international players who made the leap to the NBA in the 2000s. He had a sterling career as a key bench player for those sterling Sacramento teams in the early part of the decade. He made the move to Orlando and began to really blossom as a 6-foot-10 point forward. He particularly blossomed in 2008 and 2009 as he had a starring role in the Magic's 2009 NBA Finals run.
Age finally caught up to him, but only after he was able to cash in with a big deal. Now, after Turkoglu's worst season of his career, he is constant trade fodder and someone the Magic are trying to rid themselves of. It is not likely Turkoglu is going to see the kind of money he just got in his last contract or anything near that amount unless he changes his production.
Turkoglu may be playing out his last years of the NBA before he finishes things up back home.
Turkoglu did not say in his interview whether this will be the case. it is just hard to see a team taking a risk on a veteran like Turkoglu when his skills have so sharply declined and he has struggled in his career without the ball in his hands. Turkey may be calling sooner rather than later.