Wolves coach Rick Adelman made one thing very clear today after his team finished practice:
There will be no woe-is-me mentality. And simply treading water while Kevin Love’s broken bones heal won’t be sufficient.
“We’ve got to be prepared to be successful,” Adelman said Thursday. “We have to come out strong in that first month.”
Adelman had to say it. Otherwise the shocking news that Love had broken the third and fourth metecarpals in his right hand while doing knuckle pushups Wednesday morning might be a difficult blow for his team to overcome.
As it was, Adelman said what everyone expected him to say. Other players will have to step up. The off-season moves that added the likes of Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Dante Cunningham and Lou Amundson to the roster were designed to make the team more versatile and better able to handle injuries than the team was last year.
Now it’s time to prove it.
Love went to New York’s Hospital of Special Surgery to see Dr. Andy Weiland. The Wednesday’s diagnosis was confirmed, but surgery will not be needed. The six- to eight-week recovery time remains.
In a release sent by the team, Love discussed the injury.
“Yesterday I had a post-practice commitment and decided to work out at my home with my personal trainer before heading to Target Center,” he said. “While doing various pushups, including knuckle pushups, which are a part of my regular workout routine, I hurt my hand. I immediately knew something was wrong and called head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam.
“Although I’m disappointed that this injury happened, I will work extremely hard to stay in shape and return to the court as quickly as possible. We have added a lot of depth to our roster this season, and I have complete confidence in my teammates and coaching staff that they will step up and we will be successful during this time. I’m looking forward to supporting our team and helping out any way I can until I get back on the court.”
Adelman said he will spend the final three preseason games and the week of practice before the regular season begins experimenting with different lineups. At this point it appears Derrick Williams and Cunningham will be relied upon heavily to fill the void created by Love’s injury. But it won’t stop there. Adelman said he would look at playing Kirilenko at the power forward spot and giving a player like Budinger time at small forward.
“It’s not just at (Love’s) spot,” Adelman said. “It means our point guards have to take up more. Brandon (Roy) will maybe have to take up more because we don’t have Kevin. (Nikola) Pekovic’s going to have to pick up more. Everybody’s going to have to do more to make up for that loss. That’s how the guys in Houston approached it.”
Yes, Adelman has been through this before. He was coaching the Rockets when injuries Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady decimated the roster. In 2009 the Rockets made the playoffs despite an injury to McGrady before the playoffs began. The team advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where it lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games, despite losing Yao to injury in Game 3. In subsequent seasons Adelman was able to keep Houston above .500 despite injuries.
Indeed, Adelman has coached teams through so many injuries that he was able to offer up some dark humor Thursday. “I’ve had so many injuries to good players, I’m starting to think maybe it’s me, you know?’’ he said. “In Houston we didn’t have very good luck, and now we have the same thing here.’’
Over the final three preseason games Adelman will look at a number of different combinations.
Williams would seem to be the logical choice to plug in. But, after starting training camp strong, Adelman said Williams hasn’t matched that intensity of late. “We’re going to have to keep pushing him,” Adelman said. “Derrick can be very good offensively, Dante is terrific defensively, Lou can be very physical at that spot. And, like I said, Andrei gives you another dimension. It’s consistency from everybody that we’re looking for. That will give us a chance to win.”
Cunningham, who came to Minnesota hoping for more of a chance to play, said he is able and very willing to help fill the void. “It’s a challenge I’m ready for with open arms.”
Williams admitted he needed to be more consistently aggressive and avoid streaks of passive play. “I think it’s a big opportunity for myself,” he said.
Meanwhile, in yet more dark humor, Adelman was asked about knuckle pushups. “I think that should be taken out of the repertoire for sure,” he said. “In fact, all pushups. Anything to do with the hand.”