April 19, 2011: Rockets’ contract not renewed after four seasons there.
Sept. 13, 2011: Hired by Timberwolves to replace fired Kurt Rambis
Quotes about Adelman
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich: “I think he’s the most underrated coach in the league. Offensively, he’s one of the most creative guys. Even guys he has coached in the past, you see them now and they still do things he taught them offensively. He’s one of those guys, he doesn’t try to get the camera. He couldn’t care less. He wants to do his job and go home, and he does it well.”
Oklahoma City guard Kevin Martin, who played for Adelman in Sacramento and Houston: “He’s one of the most positive influences I’ve had in my life. I appreciate everything he has done for me in my career. He’s a different guy in his own way. Everybody calls him a player’s coach. He lets you play to your strengths. If you can’t thrive in his system, you can’t thrive in any system.”
Former Sacramento GM and coach Jerry Reynolds, a Kings broadcaster who witnessed the entire Adelman era there: “Whatever level of player he has, he adjusts. When he has had really good players, he wins and he wins a lot. There are only two things a coach can do: Motivate them best you can and use them correctly, and he’s as good as there has ever been at that, in my opinion.”
Indiana coach Frank Vogel: “Everyone talks about the Phil Jacksons, Popoviches or Pat Rileys, but he’s right up there. You can’t say he’s not as good as those guys. He has done it for many, many years. I have great respect for him.”
Houston guard Aaron Brooks, who played his first four NBA seasons for Adelman: “There are only 82 in a season. He’s one of the best ever in this league, definitely the best coach I’ve had. That he’s done it with all different pieces, all different teams is amazing. I’m honored to have him as my first coach. He brings you in for your specific skills and tells you, `Don’t try to be anybody else.’ He just puts you in the right place to do good things.”
Cleveland coach Byron Scott, an Adelman assistant for two seasons in Sacramento: “Players loved playing for him because he allows you to just play basketball. If you found one player who didn’t like playing for Rick, it’s the player, it’s not the coach.”
Houston coach Kevin McHale when asked if he hopes to coach long enough to win 1,000 games: “I’d have to be 120.”
Detroit coach Lawrence Frank: “You can make an argument that he might be the most underrated coach in the history of the NBA. I love watching his teams play. I think he’s a Hall of Fame coach.”
The Road Taken
His seven-year NBA playing career ended at the Kansas City Kings’ 1975 training camp, when coach Phil Johnson’s final cut came down to two guards. Adelman was one. The other was a third-year shooting guard from West Virginia named Mike D’Antoni, who now coaches the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson waived Adelman, sending him home to Los Angeles contemplating a new life using his master’s degree to teach and coach high school. Instead, a contact told him about an open job at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., not far from where he played professionally in Portland.
“I didn’t have the experience that other guys who were already teaching and coaching had, I just had played professional basketball,” he said. “I was seven years behind. I just got really lucky when I found the job in Oregon.”