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Tax isn't issue for Magic, Turkoglu

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ORLANDO, Fla. --- Hedo Turkoglu emptied his locker, shook hands with teammates and walked out of the Orlando Magic's practice facility Tuesday.

The Magic are optimistic it wasn't the last time.

Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins said the team is prepared to go over the luxury tax for the first time in its history, perhaps giving the Magic the space they need to re-sign the soon-to-be free agent and remain a contender to return to the NBA Finals.

"The luxury tax won't be a hindrance," Martins said.

Turkoglu, Orlando's starting forward and a key component to its Eastern Conference title, reiterated Tuesday that he's planning to opt out of the last year of his contract to become a free agent July 1. He would make about $7.3 million next season in the final year of a $36 million, six-year deal.

"Opting out doesn't mean I'm going to leave," he said. "I'm looking for the best opportunity for myself and my family. I hope everything will work out for both sides and I stay here because I became Turkoglu here."

There are plenty of other questions surrounding the Magic's future.

With Jameer Nelson already named the starting point guard for next season, the team will have to decide whether it wants to keep Rafer Alston -- and his $5.25 million contract that ends after next season -- as a backup alongside reliable reserve Anthony Johnson. Alston was unhappy with his minutes in the finals, with Nelson returning prematurely from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him since early February.

Alston isn't sure whether he'll be back.

"I always think I'm going to be traded. Absolutely I do," he said. "I think (teams) don't respect my point guard abilities. That's every team I've been on."

Backup center Marcin Gortat also will be looking for a raise. He will be a restricted free agent and likely get a contract worth well more than the $770,000 he made this season, making it difficult for Orlando to retain him and Turkoglu.

Magic general manager Otis Smith said he's prepared to let Turkoglu and Gortat explore the free-agent market before making an offer.

"You're not going to buy a house without appraising it first," Smith said.


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