The Wolves officially introduced veteran center Ronny Turiaf today before a youthful audience at the Ronald McDonald House on the U of M campus today and he showed up with the No. 32 jersey he will wear in Minnesota.
Turiaf has worn No. 21 much of his career, but Kevin Garnett wore that for the Wolves all those years, of course.
Turiaf called Garnett “my favorite player, one of my favorite players” and said “I love his passion for the game. Out of respect, I could not wear No. 21.”
So he called heart-surgery soulmate Fred Hoiberg and asked the Iowa State coach for his “blessing” to wear the 32 that Hoiberg once wore for the Wolves.
Hoiberg and Turiaf have become friends for life, bond together by the same heart surgery each had nearly a decade ago.
“We have this special bond nobody but the two of us can understand,” Turiaf said. “I thought, for me, it was so natural to pay homage. He helped me get through the most difficult time of my life.”
Here’s a bunch of other stuff from chats with Flip Saunders and Turiaf this morning:
- Spain advanced to the Eurobasket semifinals by just clobbering Serbia today, which means Ricky Rubio likely won’t arrive here for training camp until just before media day on Sept. 30. Don’t expect Ricky – and probably others – to play both games of the team’s two back-to-back situations in the preseason. Rubio, Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea – all of whom played for their national teams this summer – probably will be given some rest early in training camp.
Also now that Flip’s in charge, don’t expect back-to-back games next preseason. He doesn’t like them.
- Kevin Love is due in town on Friday, Nikola Pekovic is expected to arrive over the weekend. Rick Adelman will arrive next week and Shved, Barea and almost everyone else other than Rubio will be here as well.
- Saunders praised Shved’s Eurobasket play for a Russian team that got knocked out early. “He played really good,” he said. “What I liked about him is he kept his composure. He was their best player.”
- He said the same about Barea, whose Puerto Rico team lost to Mexico in the FIBA Americas final. “He had a great tournament. If they had won it, he’d probably be the Player of the Tournament. He looks like he as lost a little weight, playing as much as he has. He just looked in great shape.”
- Likewise, Saunders said rookie Shabazz Muhammad has lost weight since the Vegas Summer League in July and said it’s the best shape he’s seen him in all year. For what it’s worth, he also said Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng have “made a lot of progress” since summer. They’ve been working out daily with new player development coach Bobby Jackson.
- Saunders didn’t go to Slovenia for Eurobasket, but scout Zarko Durisic has been there and just got back a few days ago.
- Look for player liaison Calvin Booth to join assistant coach Jack Sikma in working with the big men during the preseason.
- There’s still a chance the Wolves could add a player to their training camp roster. Discussions with agents continue.
- The Wolves have until late October to decide whether to pick up Derrick Williams’ $6.2 million player option for the 2014-15 season. Doing so will likely nudge the team up to the luxury-tax line and take away whatever salary-cap flexibility they might have left. There will be plenty of Internet chatter whether guaranteeing him that money is wise, but Saunders on Wednesday sounded like it might not be much of a decision. “I know what he’s done this summer. We’ll see how it translates. I’ve said all along I’ve always been a big fan of his. Just because there’s a timeline and that, but I feel and I believe he’s going to be here. We’ll what all transpires.”
- Turiaf on new practice mate, big Pek: “Pound for pound, he’s the strongest center that I have had to guard, hands down. You’ve seen him.” Turiaf also used the word “relentless” to describe Pek.
- The Ronald McDonald House gym that the Wolves remodeled last year now is named in honor of Conrad Smith, the former Wolves executive and all-around good guy who died from brain cancer in January.
- Saunders said Turiaf “might be the biggest kid in the gym today” at a Ronald McDonald House gym that was full of ‘em on Wednesday. He meant it in a good way.
- When asked what still is left on his to-do list with camp now just 13 days away, Flip said, “Close the cabin.”