As Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman joked after practice Tuesday, it’s not hard for someone to make him feel old.
The Wolves will begin their 25th NBA season Wednesday against Orlando, the team with which they entered the league. Adelman’s NBA coaching career, which began as an assistant in Portland, predates the Wolves franchise by six years.
He is starting his 23rd season as a head coach, his third with the Wolves, and he is already on the verge of becoming the second-most tenured coach in franchise history behind Flip Saunders.
“I did not know that,” he said. “Longevity is not something you look for, because it’s not happening [in the league].”
His rapid rise also is a comment on the Wolves’ history. His 148 games coaching the Wolves trails only Saunders (737 games coached from 1995-96 to 2004-05), Bill Musselman (164 from 1989-90 to 1990-91) and Kurt Rambis (164 between 2009-10 to 2010-11) on the team’s career list. His 57 victories are already second behind Saunders’ 411. Adelman should pass Musselman and Rambis in Wolves games coached on Dec. 11, when the team plays host to Philadelphia.
“Professional sports have changed,” said Adelman, who earned his 1,000th career victory late last season. “You have to try to deal with it. I’ve been fortunate to have had a pretty good run.”
An experienced pair
Both Saunders, now the team’s president of basketball operations, and Adelman said they’d have a good working relationship when Saunders returned to the team. So far, it appears that’s how it has played out. The two regularly talk, often at great length after practices. Saunders, Adelman and General Manager Milt Newton met Tuesday in the stands just off the Target Center court.
“It’s been very good,” Adelman said. “It’s good to have [Saunders’] input; he’s been through it all before. And he’s been very supportive. [Owner] Glen Taylor has been great to me, and Flip’s been really good. But once we have our first five-game losing streak, we’ll find out.”
The energetic Saunders is breaking with recent tradition. Former GMs Kevin McHale and David Kahn watched home games from a seat halfway up the lower bowl at center court. In a radio interview Tuesday morning Saunders joked that, since he’s never been able to actually sit down during games, moving to a suite made sense. Adelman, joking, agreed with the move. “Or else he might end up sitting next to me,” Adelman said.
No decision on small forward
Adelman again said he hadn’t decided on his starting small forward. More and more it appears there will be a rotation of players there in the early part of the season, dictated by matchups.