Adelman: Center spot is 'wide open'

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 16, 2011 - 6:43 AM
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Kevin Love might play more at center this season under new coach Rick Adelman.

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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MANKATO - With the Timberwolves' preseason opener just one day away, here's one of so many questions facing new coach Rick Adelman:

So who's the starting center?

"I think it's wide open," Adelman said.

Veteran Darko Milicic started all 69 games he played last season. Second-year center Nikola Pekovic played with a unit -- Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, etc. -- that looked like Adelman's starters during Thursday's practice.

And Adelman always could start Love at center to make room for Anthony Randolph or rookie Derrick Williams at power forward.

"I don't know if he's going to start there," Adelman said about Love. "He may against certain teams, especially early in the year the way our schedule is. He certainly will play there some."

Adelman said he is reluctant to start Love at center consistently because matchups against bigger, stronger players could get him into early foul trouble.

When asked if he wants to go into the regular season with a set starting lineup, Adelman said: "I've always preferred to have one, but perhaps that's unrealistic going into this season. You'd like to settle into one, where you have a good rotation going, but it could be different lineups on different nights."

First look

The Wolves play the first of two preseason games against Milwaukee on Saturday night at Target Center.

Here are newcomer J.J. Barea's objectives: "Just go in, have some fun, go up and down and shoot a couple balls and have a couple assists, throw the ball away a couple times, hit some people and get some fouls and just get it going."

That's better

After Wednesday's practice, Adelman said he didn't think he has ever seen a group that turns the ball over like this one.

He was happier after Thursday's practice.

"Good concentration today," he said. "We had a really good practice. They worked hard. They kept it up all the way through and we took care of the ball better today than yesterday."

4 or 3 for No. 2?

Adelman is asking Williams to focus on playing power forward for now.

When the Wolves drafted Williams, he was projected at small forward because the team already has Love at power forward.

"I think he's just going to get more comfortable if he's playing one spot rather than two," Adelman said. "I thought he did a very nice job today. He shot the ball really well. When he really gets set, he shoots it pretty good."

Barea impresses

Barea brings the Wolves speed, shooting and championship experience that new teammate Wayne Ellington credited some for Thursday's improved practice after the Wolves threw the ball all over the place on Wednesday.

"He brings that veteran leadership," Ellington said. "Even today, I felt like he settled us down in practice even more. He got us into our stuff., slowed us down a little bit."

Reminiscent

Adelman's "corner" offense shares a little of the same motion, share-the-ball philosophies with the triangle offense the Wolves ran under Kurt Rambis.

But it reminds Ellington of something else.

"Honestly, our offense now reminds me of the type of offense we ran at North Carolina," said Ellington, who won an NCAA title with coach Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. "Coach Williams put us in a set and let us be basketball players. He treated us like grown men. He gave us our freedom but also responsibilities and accountability, and that's what Coach Adelman does also."

Etc.

• After Thursday afternoon's practice, the Wolves went to owner Glen Taylor's house for a lasagna dinner. They'll practice at Minnesota State, Mankato on Friday morning before returning to the Twin Cities.

• Luke Ridnour declined interview requests for the third consecutive day, since the Wolves added Barea as a third point guard.

• When asked about Barea's NBA championship experience, Beasley said: "We got a ring in the room."

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