Wolves Monday: Adelman still undecided at small forward
MINNEAPOLIS — If Rick Adelman has any idea who will round out his starting lineup Wednesday against Orlando, the Timberwolves coach isn’t feeling generous enough to share.
Two days out from Minnesota’s 2013-14 opener, he says he’s still unsure who to hand the nod at small forward.
No big deal, the candidates in question say.
“It really doesn’t matter to me,” free-agent pickup Corey Brewer said. “Either way, I know my role. I’ve got play defense, bring energy, so if it’s in the first team or the second team, it doesn’t really matter.”
Fellow forward Derrick Williams agrees.
“I think Coach is just feeling everybody out and just trying to see what guys play well together,” Williams said. “You never know. It’s up to Coach. He’s got a couple days to figure it out.”
What Adelman has to figure out is if Brewer is better suited coming off the bench, as he did in Denver the past two seasons, or taking the opening tip alongside Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic.
If he chooses to follow the George Karl school of Brewer philosophy, he’ll start Williams on the wing.
Brewer’s duties — hound opposing shooting guards and small forwards, run the floor — doesn’t change in either scenario. Williams’ job description, however, differs dramatically based upon which unit he’s with.
If he subs in alongside J.J. Barea when Rubio and Love need a break, he’ll be a primary offensive threat. If he starts, he’ll be asked to do everything but score — Love, Pekovic and Martin can take care of that.
“If I am in the starting lineup, I think we all know I won’t be one of the one or two options,” Williams said. “We’ve got Kevin and Pek that we’ve got to look to first and get those guys going. If I am coming off the bench, I think Coach is looking for myself and J.J. to be the sparkplug to try and get those guys going as well.”
Williams, who had a heart-to-heart with president of basketball operations Flip Saunders following practice Monday, is also balancing his starter/non-starter mentality with bouncing back and forth between the three and the four. That was the subject of his and Saunders’ convening, Williams said.
“We’re just trying to get everything in the right place,” said Williams, who had the team option on his contract for 2014-15 picked up over the weekend.
That includes determining the rotation behind whoever starts at small forward. With Chase Budinger (meniscus surgery) out indefinitely, Adelman has Shabazz Muhammad, Robbie Hummel and Dante Cunningham to consider as reserves at the three.
“It’s really what’s best for the team,” Adelman said. “We’re not sure what the best thing is right now. But . . . we watched (Brewer) last year at Denver where he gave them so much energy off the bench. Who does he play well with? What group plays the best together?”
Two huge questions that could linger well into the season, Adelman said.
“If we get that solution right off the bat, then that’s one thing we don’t have to worry about, but I think it’s gonna be a gradual process.”
Rubio on renovations: Growing up in the run-down basketball locker rooms of Spain gave Rubio a special appreciation for NBA-level luxuries once he made it to Minneapolis.
Even if they’re behind the standard set by other organizations around the league.
“I think NBA players get used to great facilities, and that’s bad,” Rubio said. “I’m coming from Europe. I’ve been in the locker rooms with no spaces. Once I came here, I thought that was great, but then I see all the other NBA courts and that was even more great, you know?”
So Rubio was glad to learn Monday that Target Center’s in line for a face lift. Specific plans for taking better care of players — locker rooms, practice and training facilities, etc. — have yet to be announced, but the idea of receiving an upgrade sounds good to Rubio.
He can begin renegotiating his contract before the 2015-16 season. By the following spring or summer, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and arena operating group AEG hope to have the makeover completed.
The promise of more player-friendly digs than Minnesota’s cramped locker rooms and less-than-spacious Lifetime Fitness practice gym can’t hurt the team’s chances at re-signing him.
“We have a great facility,” Rubio said, “but if we can get better, I’m happy with that.”
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