by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

Despite the Toronto Raptors being in a tight race with Chicago for the eighth and final Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, head coach Jay Triano elected to sit a healthy and active Hedo Turkoglu during Toronto’s big game against Miami yesterday.

According to Triano, this was done with the intention of sending a message to Turkoglu. Hedo has been catching major heat in the Toronto press, and reports of him being seen out socially despite missing Friday night’s game due to illness clearly did not sit well with management and his coach.

The Toronto Starreports:

Coach Jay Triano would only say it was his decision to play the entire game without Turkoglu, who’d missed the last game and a half with a stomach virus. “He was active, it was a coach’s decision not to play him,” said Triano after the Raptors blew a 17-point second-half lead.

When asked if the move was intended to send a message to the 31-year-old or if the benching was due to health concerns, the coach said: “Both.” Pressed on what the message was, Triano responded: “Not healthy,” before the post-game media session ended.

Triano was understandably evasive when it came to why he sat his $53-million forward during such a crucial game, and GM Bryant Colangelo would like the matter to be kept in-house as much as possible, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Turkoglu is quickly wearing out his welcome in the T.Dot.

Oh, and did I mention that this is the first year of Hedo’s massive contract with the Raptors (with Chris Bosh’s impending free agency this summer hanging over everything?) Right. Not exactly good times for Raptors fans.