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Timberwolves top assistant coach Terry Porter has stepped into the head coach role in the absence of Rick Adelman, whom he’s known since 1985. That long relationship has helped smooth the transition.

Bill Haber, Associated Press

Porter takes on new role

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • January 13, 2013 - 8:38 AM

SAN ANTONIO - Timberwolves top assistant Terry Porter on Sunday in San Antonio will coach his fourth consecutive game for absent boss Rick Adelman, a task for which he has the résumé and, apparently, the proper identification.

Porter coached Milwaukee for two seasons and Phoenix for part of another before he got fired from each job in the past decade, which makes him the Wolves' obvious choice if Adelman can't coach.

Porter coached the Wolves one game early last season when Adelman attended a family funeral, and he now has moved one seat over while Adelman remains in Minnesota through a four-game road trip that ends Monday in Dallas while his wife, Mary Kay, undergoes continuing hospital tests.

Porter has the experience -- 215 games as an NBA head coach -- in a club to which he was officially welcomed by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and others in the fraternity after he was fired for the first time by the Bucks.

"You get a membership card once you get fired once," Porter said, laughing.

He accepted the Wolves' top assistant job before last season and reunited with Adelman, who coached Porter in Portland more than 20 years ago and gave him his first NBA assistant's job with Sacramento in 2002.

Porter did so even though he still aspires to be a head coach for a third time. He considers his first two attempts as "failures" because he didn't fulfill the original contract he signed either time.

"I didn't do enough to earn the extra year of my contract," Porter said. "I definitely want to be there again."

Until then, he continues to work for a man he has known ever since he entered the league in 1985, when Adelman was a Trail Blazers assistant and Porter was a late first-round pick (24th overall) out of little Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

That relationship helps Porter know what Adelman would want, even when the coach who is closing in on his 1,000th career NBA victory is a thousand miles away.

"It is a change when the assistant doesn't know what to do," Wolves veteran forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "We've been lucky in this case. Terry is sound, he knows what Rick wants and he's acting like he knows what he's doing, which is great for the players when your guy knows and has confidence."

Porter said he has talked daily with Adelman while the coach has been away from the team and has kept Adelman's system and plays intact, except for a tweak "here and there."

"It has been a tough situation to take on, and we wish this wasn't the circumstance," Porter said. "But it has been fun to be back in that seat again and think about trying to improve a team, try to get us to get the ultimate goal and that's to win games. It has been fun to do that."

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