Adelman ready to take control of Timberwolves
For about three months, Rick Adelman was coach of the Minnesota
Timberwolves in name only.
He was officially hired in September, but the NBA lockout
prevented from speaking to, or speaking about, the players he
signed on to coach.
The silence was finally broken this week when owners and players
ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, and Adelman didn’t
mince words in his first public comments specifically about his
The veteran coach said his film study showed a team that was
”horrendous” on the defensive end, and a young group that needed
to show accountability and responsibility if they wanted to improve
from the second-worst record in the league last year.
That’s why Adelman was so eager to hit the practice floor on
Friday for the first time. This team has a lot of work to do, and
very little time to do it to get ready for the opener on Dec.
”I think that’s what our biggest challenge is going to be as a
group, as a coaching staff, to the players, and we’re all going to
have to figure out a way to build the trust here in a short period
of time,” Adelman said.
The Timberwolves began the latest in a series of new beginnings
on Friday, with Adelman and his coaching staff taking over for Kurt
Rambis, who was fired after two seasons and a 32-132 record. And
after being banned from even texting with each over the past five
months of the lockout, there was plenty of curiosity on both
”I just met him for first time like five minutes ago,” new
point guard Ricky Rubio said, ”and he’s saying he want to talk
with me and see what we can do together to help the team.”
Adelman inherits one of the youngest teams in the league, with
Rubio and No. 2 overall draft pick Derrick Williams the major
additions to a core that includes Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and
”I don’t think really anybody knows what’s going to happen,”
It’s an extremely athletic team that turned the ball over far
too many times last season and played some of the worst defense in
the NBA, two things that Adelman says have to change in a
After he parted ways with the Houston Rockets at the end of last
season, many expected Adelman to take a year off and wait for a
plum job with a veteran, contending team to open up. But the
65-year-old appeared to be galvanized by the team’s youth and ready
for the challenge of remaking one of the league’s woebegone
”You always want to have a really talented team. You want a
chance to win everything, you know?” he said. ”But I want to see,
can we turn this thing around? Can we build?”
The players seem equally excited to work with a coach with
Adelman’s resume. He has won 945 games in 20 seasons as coach of
the Trail Blazers, Warriors, Kings and Rockets, and the players are
eager to see what he has to teach them.
”He’s proven that he can win with a different set of guys with
a different set of skill sets,” All-Star forward Kevin Love said.
”We’re looking forward to what he can do with this team. With him
it’s all about a challenge.”
The first practice on Friday night lasted for more than three
hours, with Adelman and his coaching staff installing just the
basics of what he wants to do.
”It wasn’t bad,” Adelman said after getting his first look at
his team on the court. ”The scrimmage was ragged, which is
typical. … We’ve got to defend better, especially transition
defense was not good today. That’s been their breakdowns. We’ve got
to take care of the ball. We made poor decisions with the
The Timberwolves open the preseason with a game against the
Bucks on Dec. 17, just one week from now. They host the Thunder on
Dec. 26, so the rush is on.
In between now and then, Adelman will have to learn how to divvy
up the playing time with a glut of forwards, including Beasley,
Williams and Anthony Randolph and try to teach Rubio the
differences between playing in Europe and playing in the United
He said he’d love to get another veteran or two, but if they
can’t, the teaching will just have to keep coming in heavy
”We had a good meeting,” Adelman said. ”The guys’ attitudes
are good. We’ve just got to keep building each practice.”
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