The Wizards added veteran forward/center Ronny Turiaf to their roster for an absolute steal, $3.4 million pro-rated for a 66-game season. With the Wizards getting a reported $3 million in cash considerations in the deal, you can see why bringing Turiaf to D.C. was a good move.
Turiaf arrived in D.C. on Sunday for Wizards training camp, and spoke with the media afterwords.
How do you fit into this team?
“I don’t know. I guess whatever I can do. Just play with energy, try to work with them on the low block, try to get guys easy baskets.”
How has the transition been after being traded?
“The transition was [tough]. It was my first time being traded when I was in the USA. When I got traded the last time, I had to fly across the world from Africa. This time, I had to stay home for 24-48 hours. It was interesting, but I got here, yesterday? I can’t remember. But it was good to be out there and finally be able to practice with guys. It was pretty fun out there.”
You already know Kevin Seraphin. You already know Roger Mason. Talk about your familiarity with some of those guys.
“It’s funny because I do know a couple of the other guys. I played against [Jan] Vesely 2-3 years ago in internationals, but I definitely know Kevin and I definitely know Roger. We definitely have a relationship beyond the basketball court. It was fun with those guys because as we are training, we know what to expect. You kind of have these guys to shelter you from feeling a little bit out of place. So it’s definitely great to have these guys.”
What do you think you can add to this team, just from your experience?
“I don’t really know how to answer that question. I don’t really see basketball that way. I just see it as me being an addition to a puzzle, and this puzzle has a lot of pieces in place. I know they lost 15 games by two points or less, so maybe I can help being a little bit experienced. Being out there, getting key rebounds, getting key steals, because that’s what I’ve been in the past for teams that went to the Finals. I’m just trying to learn to do what I’m here to do. I’m not out there to shoot three-pointers. I’m not out there to do crossovers. I just know that when I step out there on the basketball court, my plus-minus is usually pretty good.”
Last year, you got traded. This year, you got traded. Both times, that team was bringing in someone else that played your position. Do you feel any disrespect from that?
“That’s a really good question. I love those questions. You guys, you personally see that as a negative. My life is already full of positive. I’m not going to let the negativity affect my life. I look at it from a positive where I’m with a team that wants me, and I’m not looking at it as disrespect. I look at it as a business. Just like players leave teams, the teams are trying to get better. Why would I be offended by a team just trying to get better? It’s life.There are people that are better than you, people that bring something different to the table, and it’s a matter of people just wanting to go a different route. I still get a paycheck, last time I checked.”
What are your impressions of John Wall’s game?
“Love it. Love it. A guy that can create his own shot, create for others. It definitely was a pleasure for me to be playing against him, and hopefully it’s a pleasure to be on the same side as him. Hopefully when he dishes, I’ll be able to give him something to show for it. I think he has a really, really huge upside and huge potential.”
What are your initial impressions of the team and of the camp, and how it compares to some of the teams you’ve been on before?
“Practice was a little bit longer than I was used to, that’s for sure. It’s definitely fun. I enjoy it. I’m a guy that loves to have fun and loves to work hard.”
Talk about your experience with Kevin this summer with the French National Team.I know he wasn’t expected to make the team, but he did.
“You guys didn’t, because that’s people outside the game that don’t really follow basketball in the way where it’s on the inside, where we know exactly what that guy can bring to the table. When you don’t have the chance to maybe showcase your talent in certain situations, when you do get a chance, you show that you can play.”
“I think Kevin was put in an environment where guys was playing together, when guys were just playing for each other. I think when you have teams where guys pass the ball and just move the ball from side to side, everybody has a chance to succeed. We had great passers like Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw, myself, Joakim Noah, who’s a great passer for being a big guy. We had guys that could share the ball. So for Kevin, all he had to do was just have one little step, and that’s either a bucket or a dunk. I think that’s what he brings to the table. He’s very physical guarding the ball, and I think he has a really nice upside. I told him that a lot of times when he was playing in France.”
How much did it help you to play in France and stay sharp during the lockout?
“It definitely helped me. I had a little time off, unfortunately, because I broke my left hand playing against Great Britain. But I definitely followed the team, had a personal trainer following me around, so I was just able to work around my broken hand. But it was difficult. After that, when I finally got cleared by the doctors to go to France and play with one of my best friends in Tony Parker as well, just to get competition and get a feel for it.”
“It’s always fun to practice by yourself and do stuff, but it’s never the same as game intensity or a game situation, when a ref calls a foul and you have to adjust the way you play defense and stuff like that. It definitely helps to stay sharp mentally and stay sharp physically.”
I know it’s only been one practice, but what are your impressions of Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee?
“Fantastic. Those guys can score on the block, those guys are — how you say that — play well off each other and really fit well together. One can play on the perimeter and outside, and the other one is a great finisher. I think those guys are the future of this franchise. Everybody knows it. It’s just a matter of helping them realize their potential for this franchise to be good.”