Role player Ronny Turiaf wants to bring 'Caribbean flavor' to Wolves
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Ronny Turiaf was trying to find an adjective to describe the potential he saw with his new team, the Minnesota Timberwolves
When the right word was a struggle to locate, the eight-year NBA journeyman improvised a bit.
"There is a lot of specialness (here)," Turiaf said with a grin.
Two months after the Wolves signed the 30-year-old center/forward to a two-year, $3.2 million deal in June, Turiaf was finally officially introduced Wednesday in an unique press conference at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis.
Turiaf was part of a flurry of offseason moves made by Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders in an attempt to create a legitimate playoff caliber squad around the team's own "big three" -- Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and newly re-signed center Nikola Pekovic.
It was that strengthening core group that sparked Turiaf's interest when Saunders delivered his initial pitch.
"When Flip called me to express interest, it was a funny moment for me, because deep down inside, my gut was telling me that's where I would end up," Turiaf said.
"When it did happen officially, I felt like I was a rookie here in the sense that I am so excited about joining this team because of what they already are and what I can bring to the table."
Turiaf's numbers are far from flashy. In the last four seasons, he's averaged 3.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and one block per game with five different teams (Golden State, New York, Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers).
But Turiaf is a role player, and one who has playoff experience. Originally drafted by the Lakers in 2005 out of Gonzaga, Turiaf has been part of playoff runs in six of his eight seasons, including an appearance in the 2008 NBA Finals with the Lakers and a championship ring from his brief stint with the 2012 Miami Heat.
Even with Turiaf's minutes likely to be limited, Saunders wanted a presence on his bench that could serve to fill an undefined, but needed role.
He thinks he has that in Turiaf.
"It is the intangibles," Saunders said. "Whether it's a great player or a role player, there's a lot of players that can't make others better I judge by what can you do to make your teammates better. That's what Ronny does."
Turiaf will be expected to be a backup option in the post behind the 6-foot-11, 291-pound Pekovic and Co., as well as a mentor to rookie center Giorgui Dieng.
Bringing what he calls a little "Caribbean flavor" to Minnesota, Turiaf, a native of Martinique, a French island in the Caribbean sea, puts the Wolves' current total of international players at six.
As a member of the French national team, Turiaf is no stranger to facing his quick-handed point guard teammate, Ricky Rubio. But this time he's looking forward to the view from the other side.
"I'm tired of playing against Ricky with Spain. It's good to be on his good side," Turiaf said.
The Wolves are set to open their preseason training camp in less than three weeks.