After arriving into town at noon, being poked and prodded by Trail Blazers team doctors, Jusuf Nurkic expressed excitement and optimism about the Monday trade that brought him to Portland.
"I'm happy to be here; really excited," he said Monday at the Moda Center, a few minutes before the Blazers tipped off against the Atlanta Hawks. "I can't wait to play."
Nurkic, who is expected to be in uniform when the Blazers visit the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, spoke with Portland area reporters for the first time since the Blazers acquired him from the Denver Nuggets. Here is a transcript of the interview with the Blazers' new center:
When did you arrive in Portland?
"I got in at noon. Had medical stuff. I'm all done. Kind of short, but at the same time, a long day."
How do you feel about the trade?
"I feel great, to be honest with you. I want to win. I'm here to help them win. At the end of the day, I only care about winning."
Do you think you'll have more of a role with Blazers than in Denver?
"Definitely. I can help. I think this is a perfect place for me. They need me, I need them."
What do you bring to the team?
"I bring a lot. I bring a lot to the table, a lot of energy. A player who can defend on defense. On the offensive end, I can score in the post and assist. I bring a lot."
How would you describe your career so far?
"It was interesting. First year, great. And then injury (and) coming back to a different coach. It's a lot interesting."
Do you think you fit into the Blazers' system well?
"Definitely. It takes time, but I'm ready to work and, like I said, I want to win and I want to help this team win."
What have Neil Olshey and Terry Stotts told you they expect from you?
We have "not talk yet about that. But soon, probably tomorrow, we're going to."
What are your first impressions of your teammates?
"They accepted me well. They think I'm the guy who can help them, definitely. I'm happy to be here."
Envision yourself as a starter?
"It's a question for the coach. I'm going to do whatever he wants for me."
So, you're OK coming off the bench if that's what he wants?
"That's what I just said; whatever Coach needs, I'm going to do it."
Are you excited to play with guards like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum?
"Definitely. First time in my life I've got (an) opportunity to play with those kind of guards ... which is great for me. I'm excited. I really can't wait."
What have you heard about Portland the city?
"I've heard a lot. It (rains) a lot. I heard a lot of good stuff about the food and (it's a) small town, which is good for me. I'm excited to learn about the city, too."
What was your hometown like in Bosnia?
"It was kind of similar. Had like 200,000 people in the city. Similar weather, similar to Denver and Portland. Something in between."
What has been your impression of Blazers fans during your visits with Denver?
"When I played ... I was impressed with how a small city can be liked this. I'm really excited. I can't wait to play."
Where did you get your nickname?
"They give it to me for some reason. I don't know. I'm going to show them why."
Is this the kind of place you can play for a long time?
"Definitely. I want to. I'm not a player who likes to move. I think that's the right direction for me. I'm going to be here, definitely."
Joe Freeman | firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-294-5183 | @BlazerFreeman
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