By Ben Golliver
You've got to feel for first-year Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, dealt one of the weakest hands in the league, who now must make do without his starting small forward.
The Magic announced Friday that Hedo Turkoglu broke his left, non-shooting hand during Orlando's season-opening win against the Denver Nuggets. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Turkoglu will be evaluated further over the weekend; no timetable has been announced. As a frame of reference, Timberwolves forward Kevin Love was recently ruled out for 6-to-8 weeks after breaking bones in his right hand.
Update (Saturday): The Orlando Sentinel reports that Turkoglu has undergone surgery on a fractured fifth metacarpal and will miss "at least four weeks." If he misses exactly four weeks, Turkoglu will be sidelined for Orlando's next 14 games.
The Magic, already seen as a strong contender to finish with the NBA's worst record in the wake of trading away franchise center Dwight Howard over the summer, don't have an obvious positional replacement for Turkoglu, as rookie Mo Harkless is really the only other true small forward on the roster. Vaughn did not play Harkless at all during Friday's opener, even after Turkoglu's injury.
Vaughn started Turkoglu with center Nikola Vucevic and power forward Glen Davis on Friday. To replace Turkoglu, Vaugn could opt to go big, plugging in Josh McRoberts or Andrew Nicholson. More likely, he will go small, opting to shift two guard Arron Afflalo, who is strong and has good size, up to the small forward position. To replace Afflalo at the two, Vaughn can choose from J.J. Redick or E'Twaun Moore; Redick is the more experienced and proven of the two options and he's a strong shooter, making him best equipped to replace Turkoglu's scoring. Turkoglu, 33, is one of the rebuilding Magic's few elder statesmen. He averaged 10.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 31.2 minutes per game last season. He departed Friday's game with six points, two rebounds, one assists and two steals on 3-for-4 shooting in 17 minutes. The Magic went on to defeat the Nuggets 102-89.