On one hand, Hedo Turkoglu's nightmare has ended. The 20-game suspension he received for a positive anabolic steroid test has expired, and he will be in uniform when the Orlando Magic face the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.
On the other hand, he also knows and accepts that the season's final 11 games and upcoming offseason could be equally difficult. He might not play at all, and it would make financial sense for the Magic to waive him during the summer.
"I just have to wait and see what happens," Turkoglu said Tuesday, before the Magic left for Charlotte.
"I don't expect a whole lot. It's just because of the situation — what happened — and we've got a lot of young guys playing good. So, that wouldn't surprise me at all if I don't play. If I play, I'll just try to do my best. I don't know how I can, but I'm still a professional. I'm just going to go out there in the minutes they give me, and I'll try to do the best for my teammates, for the young guys, and just set the example."
One season remains on Turkoglu's contract, but only $6 million of his $12 million salary for 2013-14 is guaranteed.
He recently turned 34 years old, his production has declined in recent seasons and the team already has promising young players at his position.
So why pay $12 million to Turkoglu, who doesn't fit into the franchise's long-term plans, when the team instead can waive him over the summer and only pay him $6 million?
On Tuesday, coach Jacque Vaughn would not say whether he intends to play Turkoglu on Wednesday or over the remainder of the season.
But Vaughn hasn't played 33-year-old power forward Al Harrington in any of the Magic's last five games, choosing instead to allocate minutes to young players Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn.
At small forward, Turkoglu's position, the Magic have Maurice Harkless and DeQuan Jones.
Turkoglu said he and Vaughn haven't discussed the situation, but Turkoglu added it's not necessary.
"Sometimes, you just see things before talking," Turkoglu said. "In those situations, there's not much to say. You just deal with it, whatever it is, and for me, I totally understand that because of injuries and the suspension. Like I said, I don't expect a whole lot, and that's normal."
This has been the most difficult season of Turkoglu's career. In the Magic's first game, he fractured a bone in his left hand and underwent surgery the next day. He returned in late December, but he sat out most of January because his hand didn't feel quite right.
On Feb. 13, the league suspended him for testing positive for methenolone, an anabolic steroid. Turkoglu said he used a medication from a personal trainer during the summer in Turkey and he didn't know it contained a banned substance.
He's played a total of 11 games this season. Although he has worked out at Amway Center since Feb. 13, he hasn't been able to practice much because of the team's travel and game schedules.
It's been a rough time.
"It's hard, man, seriously," Turkoglu said.
"It's just sad that you're not part of it, that you can't do nothing to help this team, the young guys, as a person and as a player, too. Overall, it was just a bad year. Hopefully, this year I'll [be] strong physically and mentally and hopefully come back. I don't even know my future right now. I don't know if I'll be here next year or not. At the end of the season, I'll be here and I'll try to do my best for these young guys and for this organization. When the summertime comes, we'll see what happens."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun