Wolves' Rick Adelman has extensive coaching tree
DEC 17, 2013 3:40p ET
MINNEAPOLIS -- When you stick in this profession as long as Rick Adelman has, you're bound to develop a vast web of protégés.
Former players, past assistants and family members have benefitted greatly from the Timberwolves coach's influence. What began with the Blazers -- Minnesota's opponent Wednesday night at home -- and took Adelman to Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and now the Twin Cities has left behind a trail of aspirants seeking to walk a similar path.
Adelman's coaching tree isn't the largest in the NBA orchard. In some cases, he only had a future front-office member for a year or two. Only two of his former players and assistants have gone on to become NBA head coaches.
But the league's winningest active head man has set an example in his 40 years in the business, particularly for the up-and-comers and assistants that at one point called Adelman a tutor. He himself started out at Chemeka Community College in Salem, Ore., before joining Dr. Jack Ramsay's staff in Portland in 1983.
Since then, Adelman has developed a knack for seizing opportunities and unwavering loyalty. Every member of the Timberwolves staff either played or coached under him previously or, in David Adelman's case, is his son.
A thousand wins, 16 playoff appearances in 22 years and a pair of NBA Finals berths sit near the top of his résumé. But Adelman is also responsible for playing at least a small part in the professional career of several coaches and team executives.
Here is a look at some of the most prominent:
Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations
Long before rejoining the franchise with which he spent the bulk of his playing career, Ainge helped Adelman's 1990-'91 and 1991-'92 teams to the Western Conference Finals as an off-the-bench shooting guard. The 1992 Blazers lost to Chicago in the NBA Finals -- Ainge's fifth of six appearances as a player. After retiring with Phoenix following the 1994-'95 season, he became a Suns assistant in 1996-'97. He took over as head coach just eight games into the season and coached them until stepping down in December 1999. About 3 ½ years later, he was named president of basketball operations in Boston, where he'd spent the first 7 ½ seasons of his playing career. Ainge learned a lot from Bill Fitch and K.C. Jones during those days in Beantown, but the Oregon native credits Adelman for his calculated decisions and offensive genius. "Even though the teams like Phoenix and Utah would execute better than we did, we would beat them," Ainge told the Oregonian in 2009. "Rick really knew what he was doing."
Since Adelman broke into the head coaching ranks, he and Porter's careers have been mostly intertwined. Porter was the starting point guard on Adelman's Trail Blazers teams from 1988-1994 and led them to NBA Finals berths in 1990 and 1992. The two parted ways in 1994, when Portland dismissed Adelman. Porter signed with the Timberwolves a year later and finished out his playing career in 2002. Adelman hired him as an assistant immediately, and it took Porter only a year to glean his first head coaching position. Following two years in Milwaukee and later a one-year stint as Phoenix's head man (2008-'09), he rejoined Adelman a third time when the current Minnesota coaching staff was put together. When Adelman missed time last season and a practice earlier this year to tend to family matters, Porter stepped in as acting head coach. "He was always a hard worker," Adelman said of Porter. "The guys who are players who make it as coaches are hard workers. They have a work ethic about them, and they know they're going to have to pay their dues as a coach just like as a player."
As a player, Scott won three championships under Pat Riley in Los Angeles and spent two years of his career's twilight in Indiana under another Hall of Famer, Larry Brown. But Scott points to two seasons on Adelman's Sacramento staff as pivotal in his basketball journey. "I learned so many things from him," Scott told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last season. "I always talk about Rick and all the things I learned under him -- on and off the court. He's one of those guys I think is very underrated." The Kings recorded their first back-to-back winning seasons (1998-2000) in 20 years with Scott in the fold as an assistant. After that, he landed his first head coaching gig with New Jersey and spent four seasons there, seven with the Hornets organization and three with the Cavaliers before being fired following last season.
Chris Mullin, Sacramento Kings team advisor
Like Ainge, Mullin didn't play for Adelman very long. The Hall of Fame swing man and possible Hall of Fame coach crossed paths with the Warriors during the 1995-'96 and 1996-'97 campaigns -- Adelman's shortest stint in any single locale. Both those teams finished with losing records, Adelman was let go and Mullin was traded to Indiana. Mullin retired after the 2001 season and was named Golden State's executive vice president of basketball operations in 2004. He held that position for five years and helped build the 2006-'07 group that became the third NBA eighth seed to upset a No. 1, defeating Dallas in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. After a year off, meanwhile, Adelman became Sacramento's head coach in 1998 and became the winningest coach in the organization's history. Mullin took an advisory position with Sacramento before this season.
Steve Fisher, San Diego State head men's coach
When Steve Fisher lost his job in the wake of one of collegiate athletics' most well-known controversies, it was Adelman who gave the former Michigan coach another shot. Fisher's name was attached to the Ed Martin investigation that found the retired Ford electrician had provided "Fab Five" member Chris Webber and a handful of other Wolverines with loans, part of a bigger conspiracy to launder money through an illegal gambling operation. Fisher was let go just before the start of the 1997-'98 basketball season and, like Adelman, spent that year away from the game. When Adelman replaced Eddie Jordan in Sacramento, he hired Fisher as an assistant. The man responsible for recruiting the Fab Five was only around for a year, as San Diego State named him its head coach in March 1999. He recently embarked on his 15th season there and has taken the Aztecs to six NCAA Tournaments.
Pete Carril, former Sacramento Kings assistant
Carril may have had more of an impact on Adelman's career than the other way around, helping him install the Princeton offense during the pair's seven years together in Sacramento. After 29 years as Princeton's head coach, Carril joined the Kings as an assistant before the 1996-'97 season. Adelman hopped on board two years later and began developing an offensive system based primarily off Carril's love for ball movement, back-door cuts and read-and-react tenets. Adelman added his own twists to develop his current corner offense, but the principles therein can largely be traced back to Carril. The 83-year-old Hall of Famer stayed on with the Kings as an assistant/consultant before retiring in 2011.
Current Wolves assistants
Jack Sikma: Sikma has been on Adelman's coaching staff since the latter was hired to oversee the Houston Rockets in 2007.
T.R Dunn: Dunn joined Adelman as an assistant in Sacramento in 2004 and has followed him to Houston and Minnesota.
David Adelman: Adelman's son has been on staff since 2011 and was promoted from player development coach to assistant this past offseason.
Bobby Jackson: Jackson served as a backup point guard on Adelman's Sacramento teams from 2000-2005, spent a brief 2008 stint under him in Houston and was hired as a player development coach during the summer.
Bill Bayno: The veteran assistant coach spent 2011-'12 and 2012-'13 in the Twin Cities with Adelman before Dwane Casey hired him away to Toronto.
Corliss Williamson: The small forward spent three seasons during two separate stints playing for Adelman in Sacramento. The head coach at Central Arkansas from 2010-2013, he joined the Kings as an assistant during the offseason.
Maurice Lucas: Lucas joined Adelman on his first Blazers staff in 1988 but only stuck around for a year. He later returned to Portland as an assistant in 2005. He passed away in 2010.
Buck Williams: One of Adelman's favorite players from the early years, Williams played power forward for Adelman from 1988-1995 in Portland and later became a Blazers assistant.
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