Wolves coach back on the job

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2013 - 4:46 AM

Rick Adelman returned from his leave of absence, hopeful that the health and outlook of his team can improve as that of his wife has recently.

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman returned to work Monday, nearly three weeks and 11 long games after leaving the team to be with his wife.

He coached a practice for the first time since Jan. 7 now that Mary Kay Adelman is back home and improving following a hospital stay during which doctors searched for the cause of her seizures.

"It's hard," he said. "Obviously, I've never done this. But there are some things more important than basketball or anything else, and I think the team understands that. Hopefully things will settle down here now."

The Wolves went 2-9 while he was away. He was limited in influence to a team visit before practice one morning as well as daily telephone calls with acting head coach Terry Porter, his son David and other team personnel including players.

Barring a change in his wife's health, he intends to be back for good, just in time for a six-game home stand that begins Wednesday night against the Clippers.

"I plan on it, if they'll let me," Adelman said with a sly grin. "I plan on coaching Wednesday. We're just trying to get things organized at home right now. That's my plan ...

"Things are looking better. We're going to take it each day as it comes."

A very private man in a very visible business, Adelman didn't want to discuss his wife's health in any detail, nor did he answers any questions intended to reveal his feelings. His two sons who work for the team -- player development coach David and player personnel director R.J. -- remained on the job while he was away.

"Everybody has their own situation they go through in all of walks of life, the difference with mine is that it's more public," Rick Adelman said. "But I think the important thing is we're going to move forward in a positive manner, hopefully get back and move things in the right direction."

The Wolves moved forward Monday with not only Adelman back at work, but also with starters Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved back practicing after missing more than a week each because of injuries.

Adelman said he expects both Pekovic and Shved to play Wednesday, while he intends to coach his first game since a Jan. 5 home loss to Portland.

"He was involved," Wolves guard J.J. Barea said before referring to teammates Pekovic and Ricky Rubio. "He was talking to us, he was pulling me aside, pulling Ricky aside, pulling Pek aside. He was taking time with everybody. ... No question, he has gone through tough times. I'm glad things are better in his house and he could come back for us and help us out."

Adelman's return moves Porter one chair over, back to his top assistant's seat after he coached the 11 games in Adelman's absence.

"I think it was great," Adelman said about Porter's time as head coach before he chuckled, "but I'm not paying for his technical."

Porter joked he might have to take up a collection from players to pay for the $2,000 fine incurred for that technical foul last week against Brooklyn.

Porter played for Adelman more than two decades ago in Portland and has been Adelman's assistant first in Sacramento and now in Minnesota.

"Our relationship has gone through about everything you can go through," Porter said. "He has had a difficult time. For me, it was just stepping in as best I can to try and leave less stress on his plate. It's part of my job to step up when I'm called upon. It's not like I'm relieved. I'm just happy to have him back and have everyone back to normal roles."

That will put Adelman back in his black suit and back on the bench Wednesday night against a Clippers team that owns the NBA's third-best record.

He said he didn't return until he was fairly certain he is back to stay.

"If I was going to come back, I was coming back," he said. "I wasn't coming back for one day or two days and leaving again. That wouldn't be fair to anybody. Hopefully, we can turn this around. Hopefully, the progress will be such that I won't have to do that [taking another leave].

"But you never know. You never know what's going to come tomorrow."

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