Adelman: Ideal fit for a team in a pickle?

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 23, 2011 - 1:46 AM

The owner of a 945-616 record knows David Kahn, is a fan of Kevin Love, and runs a system fueled by talent and "big guys."


Rick Adelman

Photo: Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

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If there's such a thing as a dream candidate in this Timberwolves' coaching search, Rick Adelman might be it.

The guy owns a .605 winning percentage -- that's a career 945-616 record, if you're keeping score at home -- in 20 seasons with Portland, Golden State, Sacramento and Houston.

As per David Kahn, his teams have been known to play fast. (See his Kings teams featuring Chris Webber, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic.)

He also has known Kahn for more than 20 years and has watched Kevin Love develop from prep star to NBA rebounding king.

And now he is the fourth known candidate in the team's search to replace fired Kurt Rambis.

Adelman -- whose interest in the job was previously unknown -- is scheduled to follow Terry Porter, Mike Woodson and Bernie Bickerstaff into meetings with Kahn and team owner Glen Taylor by interviewing Saturday, according to league sources with knowledge of the team's search.

Don Nelson, the NBA's leader in career coaching victories with 1,335, has been in town most of the week visiting his daughter, a schoolteacher, and his grandchildren in Minnetonka and is set to interview Sunday.

Adelman believes in many of the same offensive principles -- a passing offense that emphasizes ball movement -- that Rambis does. But he took two of his Trail Blazers teams to the NBA Finals two decades ago and has had only two losing seasons in his 20.

Both of those losing seasons came with Golden State, from 1995 to 1997.

"I had three experiences," Adelman told the Associated Press late last season, referring to his jobs before he went to Houston. "At two, I had a lot of talent and at one, I didn't. I won at two places and didn't win at the other. I figured it out that talent is pretty important, especially if you have a unique blend of a big guy who's one of the best in the league and a perimeter player who's one of the best in the league."

He chose the Houston job in 2007 after talking with two or three other teams and accepted a four-year, $16.25 million contract because the Rockets had big Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Both became injury-prone players who were either gone or sidelined by the time team and coach decided to part ways when Adelman's contract expired after last season.

In Minnesota, he would inherit a team filled with high lottery picks -- Derrick Williams, Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic at No. 2; No. 4 Wes Johnson; Love and Rubio at No. 5, and No. 6 Martell Webster -- but one that lost its final 15 games last season and finished with a league-worst 17 victories.

"I don't think I've lost the desire to coach," Adelman said. "I think I still can do it."

Most league observers believe Adelman, at age 65, will only return to coaching if he can do so with a veteran contending team. But with Mike Brown just hired to coach the Lakers and Rick Carlisle, Doc Rivers, Tom Thibodeau, Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy and others firmly planted at other such contenders, he might have to wait one or two years -- or more -- for an opening.

Adelman will probably command a contract of at least $4 million, twice the four-year, $8 million deal Rambis signed in August 2009, if the sides decide it's the right fit.

Kahn was ending a newspaper career as an NBA reporter and columnist at the Oregonian newspaper just when Adelman was hired by the Blazers as a head coach for the first time in 1989. They still own houses in the same Portland neighborhood.

More importantly, Adelman and Love have known each other for years and appear to constitute a mutual admiration society. Adelman's son and Love played together on the same Lake Oswego, Ore., team and Adelman saw nearly every game Love played in his senior season while the coach was in between jobs in Sacramento and Houston.

Love and Milicic are the kind of passing big men who'd presumably thrive in Adelman's system.

His arrival could also help persuade Love to sign a multiyear contract extension.


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