The Minnesota Timberwolves end their season against the visiting Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, and that could be the end of a coaching career that has spanned almost a quarter century.
Rick Adelman’s contract has a mutual option for next season. If either side opts out in the next two weeks as expected, the Timberwolves will be looking for a new coach.
Adelman, about to wrap up his third season in Minnesota, will be 68 in June and his wife has been treated for a seizure disorder the last two seasons.
Adelman’s 1,042 career victories lead all active coaches, and if this is the end, it was a frustrating one. The Timberwolves (40-41) entered the season with playoff expectations but will finish 10th in the Western Conference, missing out on the postseason for the 10th consecutive year.
”This year it just seems like we have a good game, and then it could be from one half to the next half,” Adelman said recently.
”That’s been the hard part, trusting what’s going to come. It’s just been a very difficult year. I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced (this).”
The Timberwolves are trying to secure their first non-losing season since going 44-38 in 2004-05.
"We want to finish strong, we want to finish the season at least .500," point guard Ricky Rubio said. "Of course, at the beginning of the season we were thinking about the playoffs, but finishing at .500 is going to be something positive."
Minnesota had dropped five straight against Utah (24-57) before winning all three meetings this season by an average of 19.3 points.
Kevin Love had 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the last one, a 121-104 road victory Feb. 22. The Timberwolves have never swept the season series.
Love finished with 43 points in Sunday’s 106-103 defeat at Sacramento, then scored 40 to go with 14 boards and nine assists in Monday’s 130-120 loss at Golden State. His 1,991 points are the most in franchise history, surpassing Kevin Garnett’s 1,987 from 2003-04.
"We’re just going to go back home and enjoy this last game in front of our home crowd and hopefully get a win," Love said.
Wednesday’s game could also mark the end for Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who is in the final year of his contract. Corbin has compiled a 111-146 record since taking over for Jerry Sloan in February 2011.
Utah has dropped five straight and 21 of 24 after Monday’s 119-104 home loss to the Lakers. Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward combined for 43 points as all five starters scored in double figures, but the Jazz allowed Los Angeles to shoot 54.9 percent for its highest mark on the road.
"We’ve seen potential out of everybody, it’s just inconsistency," Hayward said. "You can’t be good one game and take four games off and come back with another strong one, it’s got to be every single night."
Burks, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans, and rookies Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert are the only players with guaranteed contracts for next season.
"You can’t really dwell on the past, can’t dwell on the losses. You have to learn from them and grow from them," said Burke, who was selected ninth overall by Minnesota before getting shipped to Utah for Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng on draft night.
"We just have to continue to fight through it, we have one more game left."