MINNEAPOLIS — The NBA’s oldest and youngest active coaches have more in common than you might think.
Saturday, Feb. 18, 1989. Adelman takes over a disappointing Portland Trailblazers team and oversees a 116-115 loss to the Seattle Supersonics — the first of four straight.
Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Boston’s Brad Stephens makes his NBA head coaching debut with a 93-87 loss at Toronto. The Celtics go on to lose four in a row before Stevens notches his first professional victory.
Both coaches’ careers got off to 0-4 starts. Both coaches’ teams rebounded to win four straight immediately after.
Adelman, 67, and Stevens, 37, were both exposed early to the highs and lows of life as an NBA head man. Adelman said before Minnesota’s Saturday night matchup with Boston he doesn’t recall much from those preliminary days, but he can relate to Stevens as he goes through the same experience.
“I remember I took over as an interim guy,” said the typically dry Adelman, who replaced Mike Schuler, “which is very difficult, but the next year wasn’t so difficult. We got some better players.”
After leading Butler to two NCAA Final Fours, Stevens finds himself in the midst of a similar rebuilding project in Boston. His young team — which still looks kind of strange without Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo (out with a torn ACL) on the floor together — carried a 4-6 mark into Saturday’s clash at the Target Center.
Adelman has been impressed with the young guy so far.
“It takes time,” said Adelman, now in his 23rd year as a head coach. “It’s not easy, especially when they’ve remade their team, basically. They got rid of their starters. He’s got a big job, but he looks like he’s handled it pretty well.”
Stevens said he’s learning as he goes.
“You get a greater appreciation for how many good teams there are,” Stevens said. “It’s funny; in college, you’re always on edge about the next games, but certainly there are games that are more winnable than others. In this, if you don’t play well, you’re going to get beat.”
Chase back in town, Shabazz out: Timberwolves small forward Chase Budinger was on the bench Saturday night for the first time this season after returning from Pensacola, Fla.
He’d been in the Sunshine State rehabbing from surgery to remove the meniscus in his left knee. He’ll continue to work out the knee — including running on a treadmill and shooting set shots — in Minnesota and is expected back within the next 1-2 months.
“It’s good to see him,” Adelman said.
Budinger is scheduled to speak to reporters Monday and make his first public comments since he injured his knee while preparing for training camp. He missed 59 games last season after tearing the same meniscus.
Rookie forward Shabazz Muhammad sat out a second straight game with a sprained right ankle. Center Ronny Turiaf remains out indefinitely with a fractured right elbow.
Up next: Minnesota concluded the second of three five-games-in-seven-nights stretches on its November slate Saturday but doesn’t get much of a reprieve. The Timberwolves will have Sunday off then practice Monday — their first two consecutive days without a game since the season began — before traveling to Washington on Tuesday then returning home Wednesday to host the Clippers.
Two days later, they face the revamped Brooklyn Nets that signed Pierce and Garnett away from the Celtics.
“We’ll have tomorrow off, but the good thing is we get to practice Monday and leave again,” cracked Adelman, whose team will travel more miles for games than any other in the NBA by season’s end.