Hartman: Source says Adelman won't return as Wolves coach

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 17, 2014 - 6:32 AM

One candidate to replace him could be Flip Saunders, if he persuades owner Glen Taylor he can do two jobs.

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Wolves head coach Rick Adelman contested an official's call in the first overtime.

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There is no chance — zero — of Rick Adelman returning as Timberwolves head coach next season, according to one of the team’s decision-makers. Look for an announcement to that effect soon.

Two college coaches mentioned as candidates to replace Adelman, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, aren’t likely to take the job because of their popularity and security at their respective schools. The Wolves could be a playoff contender next season with the personnel additions they made this year, but Izzo or Hoiberg probably won’t move unless offered a fantastic contract with big money.

Wolves owner Glen Taylor talked recently about Adelman and the coaching situation. Adelman’s wife, Mary Kay, has been dealing with seizures during his three years with the Wolves.

“I think that a lot of it has to do with [Adelman’s] family and what he thinks is best for his family,” Taylor said. “I know he loves coaching, so that’s not the issue. I just think he has to determine what’s in the best interest for his family right now.”

Adelman has a contract that allows him to opt out of the fourth year of his contract in the next two weeks instead of coaching next season for $6 million; Taylor and the Wolves have a similar option.

I still think Flip Saunders, Wolves president of basketball operations, wants to coach. Even though Taylor says he prefers to have the team president and coach be two different people, I think Saunders could talk Taylor into letting him coach.

The outlook following this season is certainly a lot brighter than it was last year with David Kahn, who passed up chances to draft Warriors guard Stephen Curry in 2009 and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins in 2010. The roster is better than it was a year ago.

Taylor didn’t know the future of center Nikola Pekovic, who was a free agent they signed to a five-year, $60 million contract. Point guard Ricky Rubio was still favoring his knee after reconstructive left knee surgery and not playing like he is now. The team hadn’t signed free agents Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Chase Budinger — who are all signed for next season — and they didn’t have promising rookies Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad.

Going into next season, the roster is in great shape with 12 players returning and no regulars unsigned.

Taylor also was asked to update Kevin Love’s contract situation, something Wolves fans will be tracking with interest going into next season, after which Love can opt out and become a free agent.

Will the Wolves offer Love a new deal this offseason?

“We have to wait,” Taylor said. “We could do an extension for two years, but I don’t think it’s something they would be interested in right now and we’re not pushing it, either. We’ll wait until next year, most likely.”

Taylor also thought the team’s play this year was improved, and that could help in keeping Love, especially if the Wolves take another jump up next year.

“We’ve come a long ways from the wins we had last year and right now we’re in a position to win 50 percent this year,” Taylor said before Wednesday’s game. “We’ve made a huge step, but we have to make much more next year.”

Saunders sees hope

The Wolves finished the 2012-13 season at 31-51, with a number of questions facing the team’s immediate future. There’s no question that this year’s squad — at 40-42 following a 136-130 defeat against Utah in two overtimes on Wednesday in the season finale — is in a much better place.

While Saunders wasn’t pleased with the Wolves missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, the team’s stated goal at the start of the year, he did say there are positives.

“I feel we made some improvement, but like everyone, I’m disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs,” he said. “You have a goal when you come in and you think you can get there. You want to strive to try to get there, and you hope you can do it.”

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