Archives For Don Nelson

Adelman in the flesh

Benjamin Polk —  August 23, 2011 — 4 Comments

Multiple sources (here and here) are reporting that Rick Adelman is in town today to have an actual face-to-face interview with Kahn, Taylor and Moor. Jerry Zgoda says this: “The Wolves brass worked for weeks to get Adelman to come in for more than a phone interview.  If he wants the job, and they can agree on a salary, the job is probably his.”

This is good; to my mind, Adelman is easily the best candidate on the team’s docket (with Sam Mitchell coming in a moderately distant second). Plus, you and I both know phone interviews are for suckers. It’s amusing how the Wolves seem to be teetering here between making an actual, substantial, good decision (hiring Adelman) and making an utterly rotten one (hiring, like, Don Nelson or Larry Brown).

After dallying with Terry Porter, Bernie Bickerstaff and Mike Woodson last week, the Glen Taylor and David Kahn appear to be getting into the heart of the order as it were. The affable, Yeltsin-esque Don Nelson interviewed with the Wolves on Sunday while Rick Adelman spoke with the team on Saturday. If you’re an Adelman fan, it is probably not a great sign that he chose the phone as his preferred interview medium.  Kind of like when I spent an entire day of fifth grade psyching myself up to ask L____ to “go with me” and then when I finally did she responded by telling me she’d “think about it.” (Twenty years later, and I’m still married to her (not true).)

Word is, too, that Larry Brown lurks on the horizon. I very much hope that this never becomes enough of a reality that I’ll have to explain why its a nightmarishly bad idea. And does anyone else get the nagging feeling that flirting with all of these Living Legends of Coaching seems to make the team somehow less credible? Doesn’t it kind of feel like the Wolves are trying a little too hard to look cool?

As for my analysis on the situation, I’ll defer to commenter Biggity2bit who hopes that the Wolves “make Adelman a contract offer today, and if he pauses when looking at it that Kahn or Glen lean over and add an extra ‘zero’ to the end of the number and give it back to Adelman.”


The possibility of the Wolves indulging in Nellie-ball has the internets a-buzzing. First, at Truehoop today, Zach shows himself to be somewhat ambivalent on the Wolves’ plans to push the pace. Here’s an interesting tidbit:

To say Wolves fans just want to see up-tempo basketball seems to be extremely shortsighted. I think Wolves fans are willing to settle for up-tempo basketball if the wins aren’t going to be pouring in any time soon. If up-tempo basketball is going to make the Wolves more competitive than they were last season, I think it’s something we’d all settle for…If anything, this concept of the fans wanting to see faster paced basketball with Ricky Rubio running the show seems more like a marketing tool than a strategy for turning the Wolves around right now. It’s rebranding the image of a poor product.

That it may be.  Over at NBA Playbook, the indefatigable Sebastian Pruiti goes to his usual lengths to examine whether the Wolves really are built to run. Some of his conclusions make easy sense: Ricky Rubio is an elite open floor passer; Kevin Love’s great rebounding, outlet passing and trailing threes make him an ideal forward for a fast break team. Some are a bit more intriguing. For instance: although Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph are blessed with size and athletic ability, their poor decision making makes them below average transition players (although I’m thinking now about AR’s high-dribbling, no-passing end-to-end forays and I’m less surprised).

Finally, at The Point Forward, Zach Lowe discusses why, despite their fast pace, last year’s Wolves were such a bad transition team (though the Wolves led the league in pace of play, transition trips accounted for only 10.8% of their possessions, eighth worst in the league). First, he points to turnovers, which we’ve discussed. But then he drops this:

The Wolves are taking a lot of really terrible shots really quickly in their half-court offense. This is another way to “play fast,” and the Wolves were awful at it…A team’s shooting percentage tends to go down as the clock ticks from 24 to zero, so shooting early is good in theory. But it appears the Wolves are doing it in the worst way possible — by taking irresponsible, quick shots out of their half-court system and failing to work the clock for better ones.

Anyone who watched the Wolves play last year knows that this is indisputably true.

And then there’s one more fascinating fact. Many of the teams who played at the slowest pace actually ran more and did it more efficiently than the Wolves. Asks Lowe, “What in the world is happening here? Perhaps the simplest explanation is best: Better teams have better and smarter players who understand when to run and how to run effectively.”

Right on. I’d also point this out. Four of the teams that Lowe mentions as being among the best at playing in transition despite their slow pace (the Heat, Bulls, Grizzlies and Celtics) are in the top ten in the league in defensive efficiency. It turns out that if you want to score on the break, it helps to make the other team miss.


You’ve already heard the chatter that Don Nelson is meeting with David Kahn to discuss the Wolves’ coaching vacancy. We’re not sure if this is actually happening but we do know that, on Nellie’s end at least, his interest is no rumor. Here’s what he told Jerry Zgoda of the Strib:

“Really, throughout my career, what I’ve done is taken teams with bad records and with every situation I’ve made them better,” he said. “I like to be around young players. I’ve had great success with bad teams, getting them on the right track, getting them to max out. I have a great history there…There’s talent there. Maybe they just need to change the tempo and play a little faster there.”

For a moment, let’s put aside questions of whether or not the Wolves are built to play as fast as Kahn and Nellie evidently want them to. (Beckley Mason casts a seriously skeptical eye on the whole notion right here.) That isn’t even what really concerns me.

Continue Reading…

Rambis, the bullets

Benjamin Polk —  July 13, 2011 — 1 Comment

Photo by Will Keightley

These days, Wolves fans have to instinctively wince a little whenever we find our crew in the national media.  But thanks to the Kurt Rambis odyssey (“fiasco” or “debacle” could also suffice), here we are. So here are some more tidbits:

Thing is, the Wolves were already the fastest team in the league last year, averaging 96.5 possessions per 48 minutes. They were also one of the very worst in the league at converting fastbreak opportunities and turning the ball over…If Kahn is in fact trying to model his roster after these rare speed demons [early decade Kings, ’08 Lakers, D’Antoni-era Suns], he’s doing a miserable job. Those teams were built with play-making veterans, unselfish offensive philosophies, deft passing from all five positions and consistent 3-point shooters. These elements of efficiency and execution were necessary to win by imposing an uptempo style of play night in and night out against top competition. Kahn’s teams have not even approached a single element of what made these offenses so great.

True enough. I would also add: the Wolves played at such a high pace largely because they so deeply loved turning the ball over. Lots of quick turnovers means lots of possessions that end before they begin, which means more possessions per game.

  • This is hilarious: rumor is that Don Nelson is interested in the Wolves’ coaching vacancy (thanks to College Wolf for the tip).  In some ways, this makes a little sense. David Kahn wants that “uptempo DNA” and holy smokes, Nellie certainly has that. What’s more, with his knack for dissolving positional distinctions in order to create matchup anarchy, he would seem somehow suited for the Wolves’ oddly sized front court mishmash. On the other hand, its hard to see how the Wolves would address their defensive problems by hiring a coach who almost literally stopped coaching defense in Golden State. (Also, does Nellie know that Anthony Randolph plays for the Wolves?).
  • The Wolves’ rumored plan to hire Bernie Bickerstaff to mentor his son J.B., would seem a bit more complicated now that J.B. has agreed to join Kevin McHale in Houston. Seriously, what are they going to do?