Portland's pursuit of a certain player from Turkey has infuriated the Trail Blazers' lone remaining Spanish player, Rudy Fernandez, to the point where he'd prefer to play in Greece, Russia or even Spain again, ESPN.com learned Tuesday.
A league source told ESPN.com that Fernandez has already been courted informally by European powerhouses Olympiacos, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and CSKA Moscow as word spread that the Blazers had become the apparent front-runners to land free agent Hedo Turkoglu.
Fernandez, who paid more than $500,000 of his own money to buy his way out of his contract with DKV Joventut, believes he can earn 5 million euros per season if he signs a three-year contract in Europe. He is due to make $1.1 million from the Blazers next season.
The problem for Fernandez from a leverage standpoint is that he is entering the second year of his NBA rookie contract, and the Blazers have the option to re-sign him for a third and/or fourth season. Fernandez would have to be released from his NBA contract in order to receive a letter of clearance from FIBA, the sport's international governing body, to play elsewhere.
The Blazers have been made aware of Fernandez's feelings, the source said. The source added that Fernandez has not formally requested a trade but has expressed his dissatisfaction with the way he was used by Portland coach Nate McMillan over the course of his rookie season. Fernandez averaged 26 minutes off the bench and scored 10.2 points per game, rarely handling the ball or acting as an offensive initiator -- two of Turkoglu's specialties.
If the Blazers were to sign Turkoglu, it could leave Fernandez in a reduced role -- backing up Brandon Roy at the 2-guard spot and getting fewer minutes at small forward, where Fernandez and Travis Outlaw backed up Nicolas Batum last season.
Portland only recently severed its ties with its other Spanish player, dealing point guard Sergio Rodriguez to Sacramento on draft night last Thursday after Rodriguez spent three years with the Blazers as the second- and sometimes third-string point guard.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.