Hedo Turkoglu, the Kings’ first-round draft pick in 2000, announced Friday morning that he is retiring from the league after 15 seasons.
“I am very thankful and grateful for the opportunity to live out my dream and play in the NBA,” Turkoglu said in a statement. “I will always remember my teammates, coaches, staff members and all of the fans who made my career so wonderful for myself and my family.”
Turkoglu, the first Turkish-born player in the NBA, played in Sacramento from 2000 to 2003, when the Kings were among the NBA’s elite teams. The small forward, a key member of the team’s “Bench Mob,” was selected to the NBA All-Rookie second team in 2001.
Turkoglu was included in a three-team trade that sent him to the San Antonio Spurs and brought center Brad Miller to the Kings from Indiana.
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After one season in San Antonio, Turkoglu signed with Orlando as a free agent and averaged 14.5 points in five seasons with the Magic. He also played for the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers.
Turkoglu was named the NBA Most Improved Player in 2007-08, when he averaged 19.5 points and 5.7 rebounds, both career highs, for Orlando.
With former teammate Vlade Divac now the Kings’ general manager, there was speculation during the summer that Turkoglu would return to Sacramento as a free agent. In the end, Turkoglu found no takers for a 16th season.
In 997 career games, Turkoglu averaged 11.1 points and 4.0 rebounds.
The Orlando Magic will honor Turkoglu with a special ceremony on Dec. 18.