Mastering the pass is next on Love's agenda

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 13, 2011 - 12:10 PM

Rick Adelman thinks Brad Miller could be ideal tutor in new offense.


Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42)

Photo: Ann Heisenfelt, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Times are changing at Target Center.

New Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, for example, vows he will choose lineups and playing time predicated solely upon winning games rather than in the name of developing the team's young, unformed talent.

That's why he is eager for veteran center Brad Miller to return sometime in January from summertime knee surgery.

"I know for a fact if he's healthy and he can play, he can really help us," Adelman said.

But Adelman also considers relying on a 35-year-old center who had knee surgery twice in the past two summers an investment in the future.

The reason: Adelman said he believes Miller's presence and performance will benefit All-Star forward Kevin Love and push him toward improving as much this coming season as he did during the last one.

"I'm hoping he can really have an influence on Kevin, because Kevin has a lot of the same attributes that Brad has," Adelman said.

At the team's media day Friday, Adelman compared Love to smooth-passing big man Vlade Divac, who played for Adelman years ago in Sacramento.

Adelman's "corner" offense -- not all that far on the basketball tree from the "triangle" offense fired Wolves coach Kurt Rambis ran -- emphasizes big men who can pass and facilitate free-flowing plays away from the basket.

Miller never will be what he once was physically -- he considers it a sign of progress that he's able to chase his daughter around the house again -- but Adelman says Miller can tutor Love simply because of his keen mind.

"It's just the way he played, he's just too darn smart," Adelman said. "He really helped us in Houston last year. When he was on the floor, our whole team was different. All the young guys in Houston last year -- a guy like Chuck Hayes -- really learned from Brad.

"He knows this offense better than anybody. The way he moves the ball, the places he looks at. ... Kevin just has to get used to where the plays are in our offense and he'll make 'em."

Adelman met with Love for 75 minutes last week after the NBA finally lifted lockout restrictions and allowed coaches and players to speak with each other again.

He didn't immediately mention Love's prolific rebounding or the need to score. Some of the first words out of his mouth, according to both men, were Adelman's simple statement that Love averaged 2.5 assists per game last season.

"There is no way he should average two or three assists a game," Adelman said. "I'm sorry, that should be up. This whole team is that way, though. They have to learn to share the ball and make the extra pass."

Adelman has watched Love play since he was in high school and said he knows what is possible.

"He sees things on the court and he makes the right play," Adelman said. "Even in high school when he was the dominant guy, he would still make the right play, whether he had the opportunity or if a teammate was open. I think that's going to happen. We'll put him in situations where he will be a facilitator."

Love considers himself a student of the game. The same guy who watched game tapes of Larry Bird's Celtics and Magic Johnson's Lakers when he was a kid remembers well those Sacramento teams that featured Divac's passing out of the high post or Adelman's early Houston teams that featured a fellow named Yao Ming.

Love says he has listened and learned from Miller during these early days of camp. And he has heard Adelman's message loud and clear as well.

"He told me, 'Your points might go up and down, your rebounds might go up and down, but the one thing I want to go up and only up is your assists,'" Love said. "I told him I can do that."

  • TIMBERWOLVES BRAD MILLER AND KEVIN LOVE Exhibition: 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Milwaukee • Target Center • FSN alternate (830-AM) • Season opener: Dec. 26 vs. Oklahoma City

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