Wolves notebook: Adelman would prefer to play NBA teams in preseason

MINNEAPOLIS — If Rick Adelman were calling the shots, the Timberwolves’ upcoming preseason slate would look significantly different.

No international foe to kick things off Monday. No four-games-in-six-nights stretch. Certainly not two trips across the United States’ northern border.

“It’s not the way I’d want to do it,” Adelman said after practice Saturday at the Target Center, “but it’s the way we’ve set it up.”

“We” apparently referring to the NBA, which is currently immersed in initiatives to grow the game internationally. For Minnesota, that means hosting Russian professional team CSKA Moscow on Monday and squaring off with Boston on Oct. 20 in Montreal, Quebec.

Adelman understands the league’s emphasis on reaching out to other countries, he says, but would rather see how his roster stacks up against talent it will face throughout the regular season.

Even if it means denying fans a look at the team guard Alexey Shved and former Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko used to play for.

“There’s a lot of teams in our league,” Adelman said. “Last year was Israel, this year it’s a Russian team. I’d just as soon play NBA competition.”

Last year, Minnesota hosted Israeli pro club Maccabi Haifa B.C. during the preseason.

Minnesota also has a road date Wednesday with the Toronto Raptors — the second of four exhibition outings in six days before a weeklong layoff.

It doesn’t exactly give the Timberwolves time to ease their way into game play. While that’s a detriment, Adelman said, it’s not all bad.

“At least through four games, we’re gonna have a pretty good idea of where we are and we have a whole week to look at film and get back and ready for the last three games,” the third-year coach said.

Adelman plans to substitute frequently and take a hard look at all 17 active players on the training-camp roster (small forward Chase Budinger is out indefinitely with a knee injury). The Timberwolves tip off with Moscow at 7 p.m. Monday, then makes its first trip to Canada for a 6 p.m. tilt Wednesday against Toronto.

Hummel no longer hobbled: Forward Robbie Hummel wasn’t at all happy to see Budinger go down with his second meniscus injury in the past year before camp began.

The Purdue product can directly relate, having suffered a similar injury and tearing the ACL in the same knee twice during an otherwise-sterling college career.

“Especially after the fact that I’ve hurt my knee so many times, I never want to see anybody get hurt,” Hummel said. “I can definitely feel for them. Unfortunately, it’s part of the game, and it happens. When it does happen, guys need to step up and kind of come into that role.

“It certainly opens an opportunity for the four guys that are here in training camp.”

Count Hummel among the hopeful.

A strong summer league showing earned Hummel, a Timberwolves’ second-round draft selection in 2012, his first NBA training camp invite. He spent his first season of professional basketball in Spain.

He and guards Lorenzo Brown, Othyus Jeffers and A.J. Price are in a four-man battle for Minnesota’s final 15-man roster spot.

Through five days of training camp, Hummel is forcing the Timberwolves to seriously consider him, Adelman said.

“They said that at the very start if he hadn’t torn his knee up in college, he probably would’ve been a lottery pick,” Adelman said. “He’s that type. He’s a three-four who can play both of them. He’s a tough, tough kid, and he can flat-out shoot the ball.”

Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 215 pounds, Hummel certainly can step back and hit 3s — he made 41.1 percent of them in Spain — and is strong enough to defend in the post. He’ll have trouble matching up athletically with NBA wings, Adelman pointed out, and consequently looks more comfortable at the four.

A poor man’s Kevin Love, if you will.

“He’s a guy you’ve really got to look at,” Adelman said, “because he really doesn’t back down from anybody.”

Outside progress: Love stuck around for quite some time after his teammates left the floor Saturday, working on his 3-point shooting in an around-the-world-type drill while an assistant counted his makes and misses.

Minnesota’s All-Star power forward and his teammates are shooting much better from outside so far this camp, Adelman said.

After chalking up a league-worst 30.5 percent mark last season, they really have nowhere to go but up.

“I think we’ll be better, for sure, there,” Adelman said. “We have to be better.”

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