Turiaf excited to join young Timberwolves
Ronny Turiaf has traded elbows with Nikola Pekovic in the post
and chased Ricky Rubio around the court in international
competition long enough.
The eight-year veteran said he’s happy to join the Minnesota
Timberwolves, where he will serve as a mentor and an extra big man
off the bench to help prepare the younger players for what everyone
expects will be a run at the franchise’s first playoff berth since
”It’s a great thing for me to fit in. I’m tired of playing
against Ricky in Spain. It’s good to be on his good side,” Turiaf
said on Wednesday, drawing chuckles from the crowd. ”I’m actually
really being serious about it.”
Turiaf has averaged 4.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in
his career and played just over 10 minutes per game last season for
the Clippers. But when Flip Saunders went looking for a veteran big
man to beef up the team’s bench, he immediately thought of Turiaf.
Saunders coached Turiaf in Washington two years ago, and grew to
admire not only his tenacity on the defensive end, but also the
tireless outreach in the community.
”He brings that passion, he brings that enthusiasm, he brings
what you need, the glue, for a team to have success,” Saunders
The team held Turiaf’s introductory press conference on the
University of Minnesota campus at the Ronald McDonald House, which
houses sick children who are being treated at the hospital nearby.
The Timberwolves renovated a basketball court in the building last
season and named it in honor of late team executive Conrad Smith.
After the press conference, Turiaf played with about a dozen
children on the court, playfully swatting away their shot
With the Timberwolves, Turiaf will be counted on to give them
some toughness when they face some of the bigger teams in the
league. The Wolves have Pekovic starting at center and drafted
Louisville shot-blocker Gorgui Dieng in the first round in June,
but protecting the rim is one of the team’s biggest issues going
into training camp, which opens on Oct. 1.
Turiaf has averaged 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes over his career
and has gone toe-to-toe with some of the best low-post scorers in
”I’m so excited about joining this team because of what they
already are and what I can bring to the table,” Turiaf said.
”It’s this kid excitement, this pureness about really wanting to
accomplish something special.”
Exactly how much playing time he sees probably relies a lot on
the development of Dieng as a viable backup to Pekovic. But even if
Dieng proves to be ready to handle the role, it’s likely that
Turiaf will be a big reason for it. He has played in the playoffs
in six of his eight seasons, some experience that could come in
handy for a team that has a three-man core – Rubio, Pekovic and
Kevin Love – that has never appeared in the postseason.
”I’m a proven player. I know that I can pass and play
defense,” Turiaf said. ”I can just do whatever needs to be done
to win the game. This team has special talent. If I can help people
get better, just by giving advice and sharing what I’ve seen …
I’m all about winning.”
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