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Continued: Saunders eager to work with Wolves coach Adelman

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 4, 2013 - 12:55 AM

Saunders and Adelman talked by phone for about 90 minutes before Saunders was hired and they chatted again for about 45 minutes Friday afternoon.

Taylor surveyed Adelman for his opinions when he contemplated replacing Kahn and said he asked Adelman how he felt if he hired another career coach to run the organization instead.

“He could see that as bad,” Taylor said. “He went the opposite direction. Rick said, ‘Gee, somebody with that experience around to help me? Somebody to talk to who understands? I think that would be great.’ ”

Taylor said he asked Adelman if he wanted another coach looking over his shoulder.

“He said, ‘I have enough confidence in myself, I’m not scared of that,’ ” Taylor said.

Saunders dismissed any notion that one coach working above another will be an issue, particularly two who he said believe in many of the same philosophies.

“I believe the opposite,” Saunders said. “I’ve been in situations before where I’m looking over my shoulder, and I don’t ever want my coach to feel that way.

‘‘That’s the least of my problems. I don’t think he looks as it as being threatening at all. I’m looking at this as something that can stimulate both of us.”

Getting right to work

Saunders went to work as soon as his morning news conference ended. He talked with Adelman again and started calling players, including star forward Kevin Love.

He talked to Love about responsibility, suggested he represent the team at the upcoming draft lottery and mentioned the two attend a playoff game together this spring so they can experience the excitement of such a moment together.

Saunders wants to balance the roster and surround point guard Ricky Rubio with more three-point shooters. On Thursday, Kahn called the team’s current roster the most talented one in franchise history, a suggestion at which Saunders did everything but roll his eyes.

Saunders coached a Wolves team that won 59 games with league MVP Kevin Garnett, All-NBA second-teamer Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell.

“We have pieces, but we have a lot of work to do,” Saunders said. “We have some good young talent that has yet to touch their potential.”

He first was hired by the Wolves in May 1995 and seven months later coached a rookie named Kevin whom he soon considered the most unique, most versatile player in the NBA.

Eighteen years later, he now will manage the same franchise with yet another Kevin whom he calls the league’s most unique player because of his rare combination of rebounding dominance and outside shooting.

Saunders has seven weeks to prepare for his first draft as boss. The Wolves own two first-round picks this year.

“We came in here about the same time of year the last time and made a big mistake and drafted Kevin Garnett,” he said. “So hopefully we’ll end up getting the same thing.”

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