Doc Rivers interrupted a reporter when the name Hedo Turkoglu came up.
“How do you pronounce his name?” the Clippers’ coach asked. “Because I need to get used to that.”
For the record, it’s HEE-doh TURK-ah-lou.
Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler could be saying it a lot after Rivers acknowledged Wednesday evening that the team anticipated signing the free-agent forward once he completed a physical.
Rivers said Turkoglu could join the Clippers by the time they open a seven-game, 11-day trip Friday against the New York Knicks.
“I usually don’t say stuff,” Rivers said, “but I think everyone pretty much knows. But it’s not done.”
Rivers declined to say whether the Clippers would sign Turkoglu to a 10-day contract or for the rest of the season. At least one roster spot will become available when the 10-day contracts of Darius Morris and Maalik Wayns expire this week, assuming the team decides not to re-sign both players. Morris’ contract expired Wednesday and Wayns’ on Friday.
Rivers said he was not concerned about Turkoglu having tested positive last February for the anabolic steroid methenolone, earning him a 20-game suspension. Turkoglu said at the time that he had taken medication from a trainer in the summer of 2012 while in Turkey to treat a shoulder injury.
Turkoglu was less forthcoming with reporters when asked how many times he took the medication and whether it was administered through pills or an injection. He also declined to say when he stopped taking it.
His positive test placed him in the league’s “SPEDs” program, which stands for steroids, performance-enhancing drugs and masking agents. The program includes counseling, education and future drug tests.
A player who tests positive for a SPED a second time is suspended 45 games. A third positive test triggers a lifetime ban from the NBA.
The Clippers remain focused on the potential upside of a player who was waived by the Orlando Magic this month in a move that saved the team $6 million. He is a superb long-range shooter and adept ballhandler for someone 6 feet 10.
“I hate playing against him,” Clippers guard Darren Collison said. “He’s such a tall guard that can see over the defense and make plays, so he can definitely help.”
Turkoglu’s playoff experience is also a selling point. He was a starter for the Magic when it reached the Finals against the Lakers in 2009 and averaged 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the playoffs that season.
“He’s been there before,” Clippers forward Jared Dudley said, “and I can see Doc wanting players like that on this team who when we need certain guys at certain times, he’s been in the big moments before.”
Dudley, who played alongside Turkoglu with the Phoenix Suns during the 2010-11 season, described him as “a funny guy who can space the floor with his jump shots.” Turkoglu, who turns 35 in March, has averaged 11.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 13 NBA seasons while making 38.1% of his three-pointers.