Suns acquire Childress, Turkoglu in separate deals
AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) – Tense negotiations with the Atlanta Hawks sent Josh Childress to Greece two years ago and kept him there last season.
The lanky swingman was all set to play a third season for Olympiakos when he received a call from his agent: We have a deal with the Phoenix Suns.
Back to the NBA, on the West Coast no less?
There wasn’t much of a discussion.
Childress returned to the NBA with a five-year contract on Wednesday when the revamping Phoenix Suns acquired him in a sign-and-trade deal that sent a 2012 second-round draft pick to Atlanta.
“Deciding to leave the NBA was tough. Moving to another country, a different culture, a different language, different food, pretty much everything was completely different,” Childress said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m happy with my decision and I’m happy with the way things ended.”
The Suns weren’t done in their quest to replace Amare Stoudemire, either.
Completing a deal that had been in the works for several days, Phoenix acquired forward Hedo Turkoglu in a trade that sent super-sub Leandro Barbosa and little-used forward/center Dwayne Jones to the Toronto Raptors. The Suns also got forward Hakim Warrick in a sign-and-trade deal with Chicago last week, giving them three players expected to fill the hole left by Stoudemire, a five-time All Star who signed with the Knicks.
Turkoglu could be the most intriguing addition.
The 6-foot-10 forward from Turkey is a multidimensional playmaker and shooter who’s been to the playoffs seven times in 10 career seasons, including a trip to the 2009 NBA finals after being named the NBA’s most improved player.
Turkoglu left Orlando for Toronto after the finals run, but ended up having a mostly forgettable year with the Raptors. His scoring averaged dipped to 11.3 points and he was benched for a game late in the season after being seen out on the town the day after sitting out due to a stomach virus.
The Suns are hoping the 31-year-old will return to his form of two years ago, giving them a nice share-the-ball combination with two-time league MVP Steve Nash.
“Hedo is a versatile player and somebody who we always thought would fit into our system,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “He is a good ball handler who can create plays for other people and who can play three different positions. He’ll fit well into what we’re trying to do here.”
Childress, the sixth overall pick out of Stanford in 2004 NBA draft, had four solid seasons as the sixth man for the Hawks. The 6-foot-8, 210-pound slasher/shooter averaged 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, helping Atlanta end an eight-year playoff drought with a trip to the postseason in 2007-08.
After that season, though, Childress felt the Hawks were hardballing him in contract negotiations, so he took the surprising step of leaving the NBA to play overseas. He looked to return to the NBA after a first season with Olympiakos, but again was underwhelmed by Atlanta’s offer and decided to stay.
Now that he’s back in the NBA, the 27-year-old gives the Suns a good perimeter shooter – 36 percent from 3-point range, 52 percent overall – who can play and defend all over the court.
“Josh is a tremendous athlete who can play multiple positions,” Gentry said. “We think he is going to be a great perimeter defender who can bring a lot on the offensive end as well with his ability to slash. Josh will add a lot to our team because he is so multitalented.”
The Turkoglu deal does come at a cost.
Barbosa developed into one of the league’s best sixth men in seven seasons with Phoenix, his scoring and 3-point shooting ability providing a huge lift off the bench for the always-charging Suns.
Barbosa, a close friend of Nash’s, has a 12.6-point career scoring average and is a 39 percent 3-point shooter with an uncanny ability to hit big shots late in games. He’s appeared in 64 playoffs games and was named the league’s best sixth man in 2006-07.
Barbosa will be a tough loss for the Suns, but a nice addition for the Raptors after they lost free agent Chris Bosh to the mega-team in Miami.
“Leandro Barbosa is a player I’m quite familiar with and I’m very pleased that he is coming to Toronto,” said Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, who arranged a draft-day deal that brought Barbosa to Phoenix as the Suns’ GM in 2003. “His speed, quickness and scoring ability will mesh well with our desired playing style and talented young athletes.”