The Sixers ushered in the Evan Turner era this afternoon with an introductory press conference at the Wachovia Center. You can watch the full video here.
The press conference went about as you would expect, with the Sixers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski throwing praise at Turner, and Turner thanking the fans and saying he can't wait to play.
"As you get to know him, besides his basketball skills, which are renowned, he is a wonderful, wonderful person who will fit into our city very well," Stefanski said.
"Thanks for accepting me, welcoming me here. I can't wait to play here, and hopefully my teammates and I will do you all proud. I look forward to a very long career here," Turner said in his brief opening statement.
Turner expressed optimism that the team was headed in the right direction, despite last seasons dismal 27-55 record.
"Definitely [we're headed in the right direction]. Drafting myself, and making trades to get players like Spencer Hawes, Nocioni, and you already had Jrue Holiday here and a lot of other talented players, I think we're going in the right direction," Turner said. "Adding Coach Collins is a big plus."
Turner is a high character guy, and he believes that's the only way to succeed.
"My coach always told me you can't win with jerks. I think as long as you're nice and conduct yourself well and do good things, good karma will come to you. So i think we have the right group of guys to be successful," Turner said.
Turner's long term expectations, both for himself and for the team, are high.
"My expectations are to play as a team, play hard, play well, make it to the playoffs, and win a championship. If you're not trying to shoot for the stars there's no point in playing," Turner proclaimed.
That being said, individual awards such as Rookie of the Year aren't one of his primary objectives. "[Winning Rookie of the Year] definitely is a goal, it's in sight, but you can't worry about the end of the season before I worry about summer league", Turner explained. "As long as I work as hard as I can and prepare like I know I can, everything will be fine. You don't really worry about those awards and stuff like that you just worry about playing the game and getting better."
Complementing Jrue Holiday in the backcourt
Turner feels confident he can build something with Jrue Holiday, his expected backcourt mate for a long time.
"One thing you do is just work hard. Take one day at a time. Learn the system, learn how to play with each other and complement each other. I don't want to use us being young or us being youthful as an excuse for the hard times," Turner said when asked about the youth in the backcourt. "You just have to man up and grow up quickly and be professionals."
"I pride myself in making my teammates better. Complement, that's what it's all about. Five guys out there working together and complementing each other," Turner would go on to say during interviews after the press conference had concluded.
"[Jrue's improved shooting] takes a lot [of the heat off Evan Turner to improve his shooting]," Ed Stefanski stated. "I mean, I wish I could tell you that I knew Jrue Holiday was that good of a shooter coming in, [but] that was not advertised. We thought he was going to be okay because of his work ethic, but Jrue shot the ball real well from three point range."
On what he can bring to the team
"I'm just coming in and playing the game I've always played, being versatile, and helping my teammates. That's all it's about," Turner said about what he can bring to the team immediately.
He did, however, admit that improving his long range shooting was one of his focuses. "I definitely have to be more consistent [from long range], open up the defense, and help out our offense a little bit," he said.
Both Stefanski and Turner spoke about Turner's competitive nature.
"I don't think there's going to be a pickup game where Evan Turner doesn't try to beat the other guy and win the game, and that's what we need. We need a guy like him who has that personality," Stefanski said. "Whatever they're playing, checkers, whatever sport it is, he's going to want to beat you, and that's a big reason why he's sitting here today."
"I'm not going to hold back my competitive nature just because I'm a new guy or anything like that," Turner admitted.
Summer League coming into focus
After the press conference, Stefanski stated that Aaron Mckie and Brian James will be coaching the team, which begins July 5th in Orlando. The team will include Turner, Jrue Holiday and Jodie Meeks, all of which were expected to attend. Somewhat surprisingly, Stefanski said Spencer Hawes and Marreese Speights will be down in Orlando working out with the team, with Speigths perhaps playing in a couple of games.
When asked if he was looking at any undrafted free agents to fill out the roster, Stefanski didn't sound like a signing was imminent. "We'll look through all the summer leagues, our scouts will be at every game, and we'll see if there's someone out there that we feel comfortable to bring in," Stefanski said. He did mention the possibility of inviting Brian Zoubek to summer league, but sources indicate that Zoubek could be accepting an invitation to join the Nets summer league team. No other potential invitees were mentioned.
"[The meeting Stefanski had with Speights about getting in shape] was a come to jesus meeting, yes," Stefanski said. "Jesse Wright [Strength and Conditioning Consultant for the Sixers], Kevin Johnson [76ers head athletic trainer] and myself had conference calls with every agent and their summer workout people, [telling them] exactly what we wanted to be done and what we expected."