MINNEAPOLIS – Rick Adelman visited with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday morning, offering his team something of a pep talk before returning to his wife, who is hospitalized.
Adelman didn’t lead practice – he hasn’t in more than a week – and assistant coach Terry Porter will remain in charge at least through Thursday’s game against the Clippers at the Target Center. Even so, players gave the sense that the visit from their coach had energized them, or at least offered them some encouragement for the effort they’ve put out despite being so shorthanded.
There is still no timetable for Adelman’s return, and Porter said the only directive the coach gave him for Thursday was to win. (Against a 30-9 Clippers team, that’s easier said than done.) Adelman has been in contact with his coaching staff during his absence – his son, player development coach David Adelman, has been with the team throughout – and he’s been watching all the games, offering his players advice about things he’d noticed during his Wednesday visit.
Adelman has missed the team’s past five games, beginning with its Jan. 8 win over Atlanta, and Porter has amassed a 1-4 record as the fill-in head coach this season.
No new injuries, but now sickness: Alexey Shved, Andrei Kirilenko and Lazar Hayward all missed practice Wednesday due to illness. Hayward also missed Friday’s game in New Orleans because he was sick. Porter said that all three are at the doctor today with what he said he believed were flu-like symptoms, but he expects them to play against Los Angeles on Thursday.
Shved, in particular, has seemed exhausted after the team’s recent shortage of guards, so the illness could not have come at a worse time. And for Hayward, whose 10-day contract will expire after Thursday, the timing is similarly inopportune. It’s tough to show your worth if you aren’t available to play.
Ricky’s minutes: Ricky Rubio logged 26 minutes Monday in Dallas, the most so far of his 10-game season. He finished the night with six points and six assists, and it was the first game in which the point guard seemed to have any semblance of a shot.
While in New Orleans, Rubio mentioned for the first time the notion of increased minutes and perhaps even his minutes restriction lifting, and he reiterated that point on Wednesday. He said he’s going to have a conversation with the doctors between now and Thursday’s game and that he’d like his playing time to be increased by the time he faces the Clippers. He did admit, though, laughing, that he’d have liked that to have happened two months ago.
Lineup tweaks? Porter was vague about whether he and his staff would be implementing any tweaks to the starting lineup for Thursday or any of the games in the near future. He didn’t provide much of an update on Rubio’s status, but he did waver for the first time about Dante Cunningham’s place in the starting five. Cunningham has been a bench player for his entire career and was effective off the bench early this season for the Timberwolves. He’s been starting since Kevin Love’s most recent hand injury, and his shot hasn’t been there despite his strong defense. Until now, Porter has been adamant about Cunningham’s place as a starter, but on Wednesday, he was vague.
There’s been no concrete confirmation of any changes yet, and the coaches might not even know yet, but don’t be surprised to see Derrick Williams and Rubio in the starting five at some point in the near future.
Malcolm Lee update: Lee underwent two successful surgeries this week: cartilage repair on his right knee Monday and another procedure on his right hip Wednesday. Both were performed in New York City, the knee surgery by Dr. Jonathan Glashow at Midtown Surgical Center and the hip surgery by Dr. Bryan Kelly at Hospital for Special Surgery.
Injury updates: Chase Budinger was taking shots while wearing a sleeve on his left knee at the end of the Timberwolves’ Wednesday practice, but Porter said he didn’t do anything more, categorizing him as being at step one, or even “step 0.5,” in his recovery. Brandon Roy, who has been practicing in recent days as he waits to see the results of his mysterious knee procedure (the team hasn’t given any details as to what it entailed), did not participate on Wednesday.
All in all, the team had eight healthy players for the practice, so player development coach and former NBA guard Shawn Respert saw plenty of time on the court with the team. Love, Budinger, Roy, Shved, Kirilenko, Hayward and Lee were all out with injuries and illness.