Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: Wolves' brain trust operating in the now

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 30, 2012 - 9:32 AM

Every season for the past eight, the Timberwolves and those who still cared about them looked forward to the proverbial promise of next year.

This season truly, really, finally is -- for bad or for good -- next year.

Long gone is a once-patient plan to build almost exclusively with young players through the draft.

Long gone, too, are failed former first-round picks -- their own (Wes Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer, Wayne Ellington and Lazar Hayward) and others' (Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph) -- as well as coaches Kurt Rambis and Randy Wittman.

The plan in place is a win-now proposal still constructed around youthful Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic but now supplemented by former NBA All-Stars Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko and orchestrated not by President of Basketball Operations David Kahn so much as head coach Rick Adelman.

Not all that long ago, Kahn promised there would be no substantial makeover to a team that already had started over more than once since trading away superstar Kevin Garnett in 2007.

But when training camp opens Tuesday morning in Mankato, the Wolves will introduce eight new players to their 15-man roster.

It's a philosophical shift created by a 71-year-old owner who intends to sell the team, by a 66-year-old coach who is working the final job in his accomplished career and by a basketball-ops president whose team very likely needs to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004 if he intends to keep his job.

Eight consecutive losing seasons and Love's very public comments last summer probably didn't hurt, either.

Love challenged Kahn and owner Glen Taylor to make significant personnel moves that will produce a winner long before 2015, when he can walk away -- and probably send Rubio away as well -- as an unrestricted free agent because of an opt-out clause granted him in a four-year contract the team insisted upon.

(Taylor is talking to a handful of interested groups from outside Minnesota, one of whom is expected to buy a minority interest now and take majority ownership from him in the coming years.)

So the Wolves signed Roy, Kirilenko, Russian guard Alexey Shved, backup center Greg Stiemsma and veteran forward Lou Amundson and traded for Chase Budinger and Dante Cunningham.

Love said he is pleased with the changes the team has made on the court and, perhaps more important, in the locker room.

"I have faith in this team, I have faith in what we've done in this offseason," Love said. "It was definitely a tremendous summer for our team. We have a number of guys who are going to help us ... I do think we have a great shot to make the playoffs."

To make room, they paid center Darko Milicic -- the guy Love referred to when he said the Wolves have rid their locker room of "bad blood" -- $7 million to void the final two seasons of his contract and go away to Boston as a free agent.

They also replaced young, talented but immature and inconsistent Beasley and Randolph with Roy and his degenerative knees and Kirilenko, to whom they have guaranteed $20 million for the next two seasons to return to the NBA after a season away.

The Adelman factor

In doing so, they have made their 15-man roster something of a Festival of Nations, with players now from Russia, Montenegro, Spain and Puerto Rico as well as the United States.

"We speak English, though," Rubio said, smiling. "I mean, everybody can bring their experience from where they've been. We can bring that Europe experience and learn from American experience and have a great team together. We're going to play a Rick Adelman style. I love how he runs the team, how he understands the game, and I love playing pick-and-rolls. I love Rick."

And Adelman presumably will love this team more than the one that last season played better than .500 with Love and Rubio leading the way but went 5-20 at the end after Rubio, and then Love, became injured.

"This summer Rick Adelman got a lot of the pieces he wanted, so I think this team is really going to play well together," Budinger said. "I already feel just playing with these guys that everybody is very unselfish out there. That's what you need to be part of Rick Adelman's offense: You have to play unselfishly."

Budinger is one of those pieces, a guy who played for Adelman for two seasons in Houston before the Wolves acquired him from Houston in June by trading the draft's 18th overall pick for him.

Adelman wanted Budinger for his outside shooting and for his willingness and his ability to play within Adelman's passing-offense system. He wanted Roy for his leadership, his ballhandling and the possibility that Roy's knees still just might allow him to be a reasonable facsimile of the player he once was.

Adelman wanted Kirilenko because Kirilenko, at age 31, is a proven, productive NBA small forward despite his history of injuries in recent years. And remember: Adelman started Johnson at small forward all last season, with very few good offensive results.

European style

And Kirilenko wanted to come to Minnesota because of the $10 million salary and because Adelman's offensive philosophies are similar to the European style of play, something Kirilenko noticed when his Utah teams played those Adelman-coached Sacramento teams a decade ago that featured Vlade Divac's passing and Peja Stojakovic's shooting.

"Those Sacramento teams were some of my favorite teams," Kirilenko said. "I like that style. It's more like how we play in Europe. ... In Moscow, we played with two Lithuanians, two Serbians, two Americans and six Russians. So it's not a big deal. Right now, basketball is so international. We know each other from the different international teams and teams from playing before. It won't be a huge problem to adjust to each other.

"I think this month is going to be very important. Last year, coach Rick Adelman didn't have a chance to practice the team because of the lockout and short preseason. I think this year they have a very good chance to work with the guys. In asking some players, I heard a lot of talk and they all said Rick is a great coach who likes to work with the players, not a guy who likes to terrorize players but really work and build a good chemistry between the coaching staff and the players. I think we all will play very well together."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 93 4th Qtr 1:14
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 2:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4:00 PM
Team Foligno
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 57 2nd Half 6:15
Ohio State 66
Stony Brook 36 2nd Half 18:47
Binghamton 28
Cincinnati 29 2nd Half
UCF 24
Maine 33 2nd Half 16:30
Hartford 32
Monmouth 42 2nd Half 15:47
Manhattan 44
Fairfield 29 2nd Half 17:08
Marist 33
Rowan 28 2nd Half 11:40
Princeton 66
St Bonaventure 26 2nd Half 16:08
Rhode Island 33
Duke 39 2nd Half
St Johns 43
Saint Peters 48 2nd Half 12:48
Siena 32
Drake 21 2nd Half 17:05
Wichita State 40
Vermont 35 2nd Half 14:51
UMass Lowell 30
Seton Hall 6 1st Half 15:20
Butler 12
NJIT 4 1st Half 14:41
South Alabama 7
Northern Iowa 3:00 PM
Illinois State
Louisville 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
UMBC 3:30 PM
Albany
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 28 2nd Half
SMU 25
Utah 30 2nd Half 14:45
Washington 40
James Madison 50 2nd Half 13:53
Coll of Charleston 34
Delaware 21 2nd Half
Drexel 32
Hofstra 36 2nd Half 16:30
William & Mary 46
Hartford 34 2nd Half 18:50
Albany 35
Binghamton 30 2nd Half 14:22
Stony Brook 39
Towson 37 2nd Half
UNC-Wilmington 30
Wake Forest 47 2nd Half 17:18
(17) Florida State 57
Georgia Tech 47 2nd Half 11:40
Virginia 45
(22) Georgia 35 2nd Half 15:27
(5) Tennessee 30
Drake 56 2nd Half 11:31
Evansville 44
Iona 44 2nd Half
Canisius 32
Fairfield 16 2nd Half
Monmouth 28
Northwestern 47 2nd Half 15:12
Penn State 49
Wisconsin 44 2nd Half 11:46
Michigan State 50
Ohio State 39 2nd Half 13:20
Purdue 45
Northern Iowa 37 2nd Half 16:28
Indiana State 27
Butler 30 1st Half 1:02
Xavier 33
Creighton 10 1st Half 16:13
Marquette 0
Northeastern 7 1st Half 16:12
Elon 6
(2) Connecticut 20 1st Half 14:31
Cincinnati 0
Oregon 10 1st Half 11:07
Arizona 10
NC State 6 1st Half 15:34
(23) Syracuse 7
(7) Maryland 0 1st Half 20:00
Indiana 0
Illinois State 4 1st Half 17:35
Missouri State 4
Colorado 3:00 PM
Washington St
Tulane 3:00 PM
South Florida
(14) Kentucky 3:00 PM
Missouri
Providence 3:00 PM
DePaul
(9) Oregon State 3:00 PM
(13) Arizona State
Bradley 3:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Vermont 3:30 PM
UMass Lowell
Iowa State 3:30 PM
(8) Texas
Southern Ill 3:45 PM
Wichita State
(15) Duke 4:00 PM
(12) North Carolina
Miami-Florida 4:00 PM
(4) Louisville
(21) Minnesota 4:15 PM
(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close