Much of the talk about the Wizards’ preseason has centered on the young players who might help the team’s turnaround.
The talk Saturday night after Wizards’ practice was not only about the youngsters but about that day’s acquisition of veteran big man Ronny Turiaf from the New York Knicks in a three team-deal that also involved the Dallas Mavericks.
Turiaf, 28, who has not yet reported to the Wizards, will provide a veteran presence in a front court that previously had five years of NBA experience among JaVale McGee, Kevin Seraphin and Hamady Ndiaye.
Turiaf and Seraphin were teammates last summer on the French national team.
“We bring in another veteran big that is very defensive-oriented, very much of a team player,” Wizards Coach Flip Saunders said. “I think the fans are going to love him just from his enthusiasm. And he can be a mentor for some of our younger-type players.”
“That’s my guy,” guard Roger Mason Jr. said of Turiaf, a teammate of his with the Knicks last season. “He’s a guy that’s high-energy. Fans are gonna love him. He’s a great teammate. Knows how to pass. Very unselfish.”
The 6-foot-9 Turiaf, in the final year of a deal that will pay him $4.2 million, averaged 4.2 points and 3.2 rebounds last season, and has played both power forward and center for the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Knicks.
His contributions on a young Wizards team might be more intangible.
“That’s the type of player that we need for our turnaround,” forward Andray Blatche said. “He’s going to bring a lot more toughness in and a lot more smart play…. Him and [rookie forward Chris Singleton] on the floor together will have the floor lit up with energy.”
Saturday night, the 6-8 Singleton, the 18th pick in the draft out of Florida State, earned the team hard hat, awarded by Saunders to the Wizard who worked the hardest in practice.