The Magic announced Friday the release of Hedo Turkoglu, who hadn't suited up for the team this season. He will become an unrestricted free agent once he clears waivers.
Turkoglu, 34, was on the books for $12 million this season, but only $6 million was guaranteed. By releasing the 34-year-old Turkish forward prior to a Jan. 7 deadline, Orlando avoided paying the remaining $6 million.
"I wanna thank [Magic owner] Rich and Helen Devos and all the Devos family for making me feel part of the family for all these years," Turkoglu wrote on Twitter. "God bless them I also wanna thank my number [one] supporters all the Orlando Magic fans and [the] city of Orlando for all these years for the great memories. Orlando will always be my second home."
The roster move ends one of the wackier paths traveled by a prominent player in recent memory. After a strong showing during Orlando's run to the 2009 Finals, Turkoglu signed a five-year, $52.8 million contract with Toronto, a deal that looked regrettable shortly after it was signed. He was then traded by the Raptors to the Suns a year later in what amounted to a salary dump. Less than six months into his Phoenix tenure, the Suns traded him back to the Magic in a multi-player deal that included Vince Carter and Marcin Gortat. Turkoglu had remained in Orlando in the three-plus years since that move, and his playing time dwindled quickly.
In February 2013, Turkoglu made headlines when he was suspended by the NBA for 20 games for taking methenolone, an anabolic steroid that is banned under the league's anti-drug program. He played in just 11 games last season, averaging 2.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists for a rebuilding Magic team that was pursuing a youth movement following the 2012 trade of franchise center Dwight Howard. The Magic and Turkoglu agreed earlier this season that it would be best if he remained away from the team this year, as the Magic looked to develop Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson among others.
Turkey's NTV Spor reports that Turkoglu will continue to pursue an NBA career rather than playing abroad, and that his suitors are expected to include the Lakers and Hawks. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Turkoglu has been working out at Rollins College in Florida as he prepares for his next move. Known during his prime years as a versatile forward with reliable three-point range, Turkoglu holds career averages of 11.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 13 NBA seasons. The 2000 first-round pick was named the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2008.