Turiaf Familiar With Wolves Through Gelabale, Excited To Join Team


Turiaf Looking To Bring Lead-By-Example Veteran Leadership, Energy To Timberwolves Squad

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Ronny Turiaf and Mickael Gelabale first met one another when they were teenagers growing up in the Caribbean learning the game of basketball. Over the next 16 or 17 years, they’d develop a friendship that would include becoming French National Team teammates through their countries’ affiliation with France, make the jump to the NBA and time spent off the court.

The two were together doing charity work in the Caribbean this offseason when the Wolves were contacting Turiaf about coming on board for the 2013-14 season. Gelabale, who spent half of last season with Minnesota before being waived this offseason, was one of the first players to congratulate Turiaf on the move.

“He enjoyed his time here,” Turiaf said. “I was looking forward to keeping that Caribbean flavor going here in Minnesota.”

The Wolves announced on Thursday they've officially agreed to a deal with Turiaf, the eight-year veteran who spent last year with the Clippers.

Turiaf said the two didn’t speak in depth about the team during his negotiations, but last year while Gelabale was with the team he was complimentary of the Wolves based on the ease playing with pass-first point guard Ricky Rubio, the locker room presence and work ethic of Kevin Love—despite being sidelined with injuries—and the ability of Nikola Pekovic scoring with authority down low. And he talked about Rick Adelman’s system helping all of it mesh together.

Now, Turiaf joins the team with hopes of being able to slide in and complement those pieces. He’s not looking to outstretch his abilities in any way. Instead, he’s hoping to come in, bring a high basketball IQ, help on defense, and be able to use his playoff and championship experience to the team’s advantage whenever younger players ask for advice.

Leading by example is his mindset. Similar to Andrei Kirilenko’s approach last season, Turiaf said he’s always willing to help his teammates with any wisdom he’s gained during a career that includes six playoff appearances in eight seasons and a championship with the 2012 Heat. The Martinique native, who went to high school in Paris and attended Gonzaga, has since played with veterans in the NBA ranging from the fiery persona of Kobe Bryant and the calm demeanor of Juwan Howard. He said he tends to gravitate more toward that Howard approach.

“I envision stepping into this locker room and doing whatever I know how to do to help the team succeed and lead by example,” Turiaf said. “If people want to ask me about the past, what I’ve seen and my experience, I’d be more than willing to share. It’s not in my personality to impose myself on others.”

Turiaf is the latest signing in an active offseason for the Wolves, a team hoping to leave the injury-plagued 2012-13 behind them while building on the promise last year once provided. They’ve upgraded their shooting guard position with the addition of Kevin Martin, bolstered the wing with Chase Budinger’s shooting and Corey Brewer’s defense, and they added rookies Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng through a Draft night trade with Utah.

The next step is solidifying Pekovic in the middle, and in doing so Turiaf said the Wolves would have a front court that would be handful for opposing teams. That Love-Pekovic starting combo brings so much scoring and rebounding on the offensive end—Turiaf said you can “see the damage” that can be done in the paint.

“Both bruisers,” Turiaf said. “That young age, the relentless pursuit of the offensive boards, Love’s dedication and hard work to become a star. I think we have potential, and I think we’ll be very, very motivated to succeed after the unfortunate injuries.”

Turiaf said during his conversations with the Wolves he got a sense for where the team was headed and what pieces were being put in place to make that happen. Now, he’s ready to get to work and see if he can help be a complementary piece of the puzzle that gets Minnesota back to the postseason.

“The offseason moves show that the organization is willing to go wherever they had to go to succeed,” Turiaf said.

Quick Hits: Get To Know Ronny Turiaf

  • Turiaf is from the Caribbean, so he’s clearly more accustomed to living in warmer climates than Minnesota. But he’s also been very well-traveled during his basketball career in the U.S. He’s played collegiately in Washington state with Gonzaga, and he’s made two stops in Los Angeles, a stop in Miami and a stop in New York during his NBA career. Now he’s getting a shot at playing in the Midwest. “I’ve played in the four corners of America,” he said. “The one thing I was missing was the Midwest.”

  • As for the Minnesota weather, he said he hasn’t bought any new coats yet but might dust a couple off from his Gonzaga days. He said he does some fishing and is interested in doing some ice fishing in Minnesota or anything that new that comes with living in the region. “I’m interested in anything I can do to experience,” he said.

  • Like Gelabale, who is a native of Guadeloupe, Turiaf is from the Caribbean island of Martinique. Both Martinique and Guadeloupe are overseas regions of France, which is why both have played for the French National Team. Turiaf also spent time in Paris during high school.

  • Turiaf has played in 47 playoff games in his career, including 11 starts (seven during the Heat’s 2012 title run). He averaged 2.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.0 minutes per game during his playoff career.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.