I have discussions with basketball fans every night on the Daily Dime Live chat on ESPN.com and every night I read comments about how good several young prospects in the league are going to be. There’s nothing wrong with being excited about what could happen in the future. As a Wolves fan, we’ve been going through this mental process for years on years on years now.
Al Jefferson could be a franchise guy some day. If Gerald Green can get some consistent play, he’s going to be a steal for us. Good lord, did the Wolves really just bring back Sebastian Telfair again? Kevin Love needs to get minutes because he’d be the best rebounder in the NBA. Maybe if Jonny Flynn isn’t in the triangle, it won’t look like he’s trying to murder the game of basketball.
If Wes would just attack the basket… If we can get Ricky Rubio to just play here for a couple seasons… Michael Beasley’s scoring ability is like none other if he’ll just get better shot selection… THIS will be the team that Anthony Randolph finally shines on if he can get some minutes…
In June of 2009, the Sacramento Kings were faced with a very tough decision. Do you draft for flash and marketability or do you try to change the culture of your organization?
At the time, the Kings were known as a “soft” organization, incapable of being consistently tough enough both mentally and physically. This identity, whether correct or not, had been stamped on the organization for the past decade. They were a wonderfully skilled team back in the Vlade-Webber-Peja triumvirate days, but as they continued to lose to the Lakers and couldn’t contain the power of Shaquille O’Neal year after year, they were tagged with the label of not being tough enough and not being a strong defensive team.
Looking back on this stigma, it was complete and utter guano. The early aught Kings were as good and as tough as any team in the NBA. Just because they couldn’t push Shaq out of post position time and time again had nothing to do with measuring just how macho they were as a unit. And yet there they were, labeled with being weak. After Chris Webber blew out his knee, the Kings struggled to find an identity. They traded C-Webb for more manageable roster parts, and tried to shift certain players here and there. After learning that Adelman wasn’t the problem (thanks for that, by the way!) and that turning Peja into Ron Artest wasn’t the solution, the Kings went back to the drawing board.
They had a tough decision to make. Do you draft the hype surrounding Ricky Rubio or do you take on a new identity with the soft-spoken and hard-driving Tyreke Evans? Continue Reading…
The ball was flowing like wine in the offense. There was help defense, scrappiness against the best team in the West, and a care for maximizing the possession inspired by our own Spanish sommelier. And you were there, and you were there, and J.J. Barea too.
It was a flashback to last season, when we were screaming at the coach to get the bad lineup off the floor and wondering just how many turnovers had to be committed by the Wolves until we walked around Uptown punching every person you saw. What’s that? That was just me? Well then, surely you can empathize with the screaming at the coaching, yes?
I don’t want to absolve the team of any bad play because the effort from last night should be an overwhelming sense of embarrassment for them. It was the reason they’re currently on a 17-game losing streak dating back to last season. It was the reason that everybody used to laugh at the franchise, and feel bad or confused for why we’re all Wolves fans in the first place. However, the third quarter of this game was the exact feeling I felt when Kurt Rambis was on the bench.
Due to unfortunate circumstances, Rick Adelman couldn’t be with the team and I wish his family the best in this time of grieving. Because of that, we had Terry Porter calling the shots from the bench. After a frustrating first half of basketball in which the Wolves hung in the game despite playing horrendous transition defense, horrendous halfcourt defense and turned the ball over like Rick’s petition to the league got the green light, they had a chance to erase all of those bad feelings of fluster from the first half and come out firing back at the Bucks. Instead, the Wolves came out flat. The lead was quickly pushed from 12 to 19 and we all began to feel the equivalent of being a basketball POW.
Friends, the longest night of the year has come and gone. The lockout is now, miraculously, a bitter memory. Ricky Rubio, Rick Adelman, Derrick Williams, the svelte, newly athletic Kevin Love and all of the rest of your Wolves will soon take the floor for an actual, certified NBA game. So how’s this gonna go? This year’s Wolves are a strange amalgamation of moving parts and oddly shaped puzzle pieces. Although we’re hopeful that something new and great is about to begin, there are still scads of unanswered questions hanging in the air. Zach, Myles and I have no better idea than the rest of you how this will all play out, but here’s our best shot untangling some of the riddles that will inform the Wolves’ season. All that’s left to do is play basketball. Read on…
The 2011 draft was always going to be a bit tricky.
In what was assumed to be, and what will most likely prove to be, a bad draft for teams seeking rescue from the lottery dungeon of the NBA, there was always going to be the very real possibility that the top picks in the draft may not be worthy of the stigma and expectations of being selected near the top of the draft. I, myself, was worried that selecting someone like Derrick Williams with the second pick would make us all fall in love with the number of the selection and assume he’ll come in right away and give immediate impact to the product on the floor.
Derrick Williams’ NBA introduction is having its ups and down, enough so that Adelman said he’s asking him now solely to focus on playing power forward.
So much for some fans’ expectations I’ve picked up on Twitter and this here blog that he’d overtake Michael Beasley for the starting small forward job by as soon as opening night.
Remember Beasley was the second overall pick in a stronger 2008 draft and he’s played three pro seasons already.
Williams is struggling with defending small forwards — namely Beasley in practice — out on the floor and for those who wondered at draft time how much he was a duplication of Beasley for now must ask themselves this. Is he rather a duplication of Love?
The allure of Williams was not only his athleticism and skill, but the versatility he should be able to give to the Wolves. He could theoretically dominate at both the 3 and 4 positions and allow the Wolves to play both big or small at any given time. Having him guard someone as skilled offensively as Michael Beasley in training camp was a perfect way to baptize him by fire. See if you can stop him, kid, and we’ll see where you fit in to what we do.
Problem seems to be that he’s not ready to play so much on the perimeter as his college exploits might have hinted. If Williams can’t play the 3 in the NBA right now, then he adds even more to the logjam in the (high) post. This might not be a problem, per se. Going small with Love at center, Williams at the 4 and Beas at the 3 is something we’ve all dreamed about when thinking about the lineups for this team. But knowing it will be difficult to go the other way and play Love with Randolph and Williams flanking him means the hopes of versatility with the Wolves’ lineups quickly begin to vanish like people in photo due to changes in time travel.
Hopefully, this is just a rookie trying to get adjusted to the speed of the game. It’s a bit early to start to worry if Williams is going to be a building block long-term. At the same time, having realistic expectations of what we can expect from him may make things more enjoyable this season, just in case he either starts off much slower than we’d like or ends up breaking through those realistic expectations to make things more exciting for us.
Maybe Williams will stretch out uncomfortable PFs on the perimeter and be able to blow by them with ease. Or maybe he’ll struggle being such a tweener at the 3 and 4 positions and go into the off-season looking to drop 20lbs like Josh Smith did this off-season.
Either way, I trust Adelman to figure out how to best use him and bring him along the correct way.
When we last left our early-millenial Wolves, their hearts had been broken in Los Angeles. It was now May of 2004, just over a year later and a whole lot has changed. Rasho, Kendall Gill, Rod Strickland and Anthony Peeler had all blessedly moved on, replaced by Sam Cassell, Professor Sprewell, Trenton Hassell and Ervin Johnson. Wally Szczerbiak and Troy Hudson had both missed significant portions of the season with injury. The team was still potent offensively, but with the addition of those veteran scorers their attack was craftier, more deliberate, and better balanced.
But the team’s real improvement was defensive, where they improved from 88 points allowed per 100 possessions in ’02/’03 to 84.2 the next year. Hassell’s manic on-ball D, Johnson’s stoic rim protection and even Spree’s boundless energy all had a galvanizing effect on the team’s defensive culture and particularly on their star. Because that year, KG was on a different plane of existence. He led the league in PER, win share and defensive rebound rate (he was third in overall rebound rate). Ron Artest was the official Defensive POY that season (please), but defensively KG was out of his effing mind. He was, rightfully, the league’s MVP. As a result of all of this, the Wolves had the league’s second best record (behind the Pacers of all teams–bet you’d forgotten that) with 58 wins and earned home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
The Wolves are going to have a real coach next season – like a super real coach with plays and experience and lineup stability and credibility and a relationship with our best player that won’t require monthly trips to a marriage counselor. The Wolves are going to sign Rick Adelman some time in the next week or so, and it’s going to be for a lot of money.
I don’t really care about the money. 1) I don’t think you can overpay for a great coach and 2) it’s not my money. Whether the rumors of four years and $20 million are correct or the even better commitment of five years and upwards of $25 million is what happens, the Wolves will be paying for someone that you don’t really need to ever second guess.
Before I get deeper into this, I don’t want to apologize to David Kahn because I stand by my harsh criticism of his work over the past two-plus years. I think he’s been arrogant and misguided in the way he’s gutted the team to bring in a rebuilding process. However, maybe the biggest thing you CAN do as a GM is admit when you’ve failed (even if you throw everybody else under the bus when you “admit it”) and not hang on to your recent decisions.
David Kahn could have very easily pretended that Kurt Rambis and Ricky Rubio would work together. He could have very easily committed to the Rubio-Flynn backcourt and sold it as somehow buoying Kurt Rambis’ presence with the team. But the square peg can only be slammed against the round hole so many times before you fail kindergarten. Kahn realized this and punted on the experiment of his first two years in town.
There are thoughts that Adelman getting signed has more to do with Glenn Taylor than Kahn and maybe that’s true. Maybe the extended agreement with Adelman shows he’ll be around here a lot longer than David will be. Regardless of the particulars and understandings that brought Adelman to town, Kahn didn’t screw it up. And sadly at this point, that counts for something and should be applauded.
So why did Rick come to Minnesota?
The prevailing notion throughout this entire coaching search process has been Adelman wanting to coach a contender. Including the Jazz and Bobcats who changed coaches in the middle of last season only to hire their full-time coach going forward at that time, there have been nine head coaching changes recently. The other seven teams are the Wolves, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Raptors, Pacers and Lakers. Of the coaching positions that were available, only the Lakers were contenders looking for a new head coach.
For whatever reason, the Lakers and Adelman never got serious with each other and Rick seemed intent on waiting out a year and seeing if any other title contending teams would become available to him and allow him to go after that elusive cap to a Hall of Fame career. So why come to arguably the worst team in the NBA from last season? Are he and Kevin Love so close that he felt like this was the way to potentially end his career? Is the money simply too good to pass up? Does he love Nikola Pekovic’s quirks as much as we do? Is Rubio’s hair that hypnotizing?
Maybe the answer is yes to all of these questions, but maybe the answer lies a little closer to what transpired 1900 miles away in the late 1990s.
When the Sacramento Kings decided to overhaul their franchise in 1998, Rick Adelman was at the center of the rebuilding. Sure, they signed Vlade Divac to a pretty big contract and traded their franchise guy in Mitch Richmond for Bullets’ malcontent Chris Webber, and they brought in rookies Jason Williams and Peja Stojakovic to jumpstart the process. But the acquisition of Rick Adelman installing a system with assistant coach Pete Carrill to turn a lot of great playmakers into a five-way symbiotic relationship between passing and movement away from the ball is what quickly turned them into a tour de force.
While it’s not exactly like looking into a mirror when you put this Wolves squad and the 1999 Kings roster side-by-side, there are a lot of similarities between the two. With the obvious Vlade-Darko jokes aside, the impact Rubio will make on this team is pretty identical to what Jason Williams put out there for the Kings. It wasn’t so much production as it was an attitude of having fun. J-Will unleashed an unbridled enthusiasm that is missing with most teams, let alone a team that just brought in veteran cogs. The difference between the two is Rubio is actually a pretty decent defender and he seems to know his shooting limitations.
Looking at the wings of that 1999 Kings team and the wings the Wolves will have out there next season, there are even more similarities. The Wolves’ combination of Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Martell Webster reminds me an awful lot of the Tariq Abdul-Wahad-Corliss Williamson-Vernon Maxwell-Peja Stojakovic quartet the Kings had. Williams is like a freak hybrid version of Corliss Williamson in that he doesn’t really have a position, will probably be stronger than most of his matchups and can hurt you from various spots on the floor. The big difference is Williams could be a good 3-point shooter as well. Wes Johnson fits into the mold of Tariq in that he is extremely athletic, should be a constant alley-oop target from the pass-happy point guard and can be a pretty good defender. Webster is a younger, better version of the Vernon Maxwell the Kings enjoyed but should provide the same type of experience and perhaps more leadership than what the Kings received from the two-time champion. And then there’s Wayne Ellington stretching the floor the same way that Peja provided (remember this is pre-awesome Peja, not eventual Peja).
That brings us to Kevin Love in the role as Chris Webber. Chris Webber was a better overall passer (not outlet passing though), a better scorer and a better defender in all ways than Kevin Love. He was a Top 10 player in the league for several years. But the way he operated in the high post and the way Kevin Love will be able to operate in the same system could be very close in terms of effectiveness. Love’s refined jumper (and extended range) actually gives the Wolves better spacing than what Webber was able to give the Kings. For the Princeton offense to roll it needs spacing and sharp cuts at opportune times. The more spacing for Minnesota, the better off their offensive execution in the halfcourt will be. It doesn’t mean that Kevin Love will be as good as Chris Webber by any means; it just means that he’s capable of filling the role in Adelman’s game plan.
Aside from the money and the Kevin Love relationship, I really think Rick decided holding out for a contender could be a fruitless waiting game. And maybe he saw similar aspects linking the emergence of the Sacramento Kings and what the Wolves have to offer. It doesn’t mean the Wolves will end up being the 2002 Sacramento Kings. It doesn’t mean they’ll be title contenders within three seasons. But if you look at the respective situations of the two franchises at the time he joined them, they’re definitely in similar looking boats. Maybe instead of a swan song with a hopeful contender, it seemed more in tune for him to build up another lowly team one more time?
So what can Rick bring to the Wolves?
For one, Adelman is going to bring some stability. Whether it’s a young backcourt duo like Abdul-Wahad and J-Will or it’s a rookie wing player like Hedo Turkoglu in a playoff series against the Lakers, Rick isn’t afraid to play a guy just because he’s young. And in doing so, he’s very willing to stick with that player and certain lineups for extended stretches when they’re working.
Ian Levy over at Hickory High ran the numbers of how coaches manage different five-man units and adjust their rotations accordingly. Of the most stable and effective coaches with rotations, Rick Adelman ranked 14th over the last four seasons. Kurt Rambis ranked 42nd. Adelman isn’t just a coach who will play guys because of an alleged agenda or take out personal beef on his players. If you can help the team win and you’re able to positively affect the unit you run with, he’ll play you.
Rick’s coaching should also greatly improve not only the offense but also the defense. While he won’t have his top defensive assistant Elston Turner right away (hard to believe he won’t try to get him back considering he only signed with the Suns this year because he thought Adelman was taking a season off), he’s still capable of simplifying things and getting the defensive rotations in order. When he took over the Kings in 1999, the team improved from 22nd in the NBA to 18th in defensive rating. The next season they jumped to 10th in the league.
Offensively, the Kings improved from 26th in the league to 13th in their first season full of new parts and a new system. Within two years, they were a top 10 offensive team in the NBA. Granted, they ended up with a lot of offensive continuity and more talent than what the current roster offers, but that doesn’t mean the Wolves can’t acquire the correct pieces Rick needs to succeed.
Overall, Rick Adelman doesn’t solve current issues with the roster by any means. But he offers hope and a plan. I was originally excited for next season because Ricky Rubio was going to make the basketball fun, even if it wasn’t great basketball. But being from Sacramento and watching that Kings team develop first-hand over a decade ago, I can tell you that if anybody was going to turn this ship in the right direction in the next couple years, it’s Rick Adelman.
His system is proven. His résumé is impressive. And he’ll run his team his way.
The Minnesota Timberwolves oday announced the team has reached an agreemnt in principle on a contract with Rick Adelman to become the 10th head coach in franchise history. Adelman ranks eighth all-time in NBA coaching wins with a 945-616 (.605 winning percentage) career record in 20 seasons as a head coach.
It’s not yet known if Adelman got the five years and $25 million he was after. Let’s not mince words. This is a major coup for Kahn and Taylor. Even before the months-long Kurt Rambis fiasco, I was of the belief that Adelman was the best case scenario for the Wolves. Hiring Adelman gives them legitimacy when the desperately need it; it gives them a coaching mind creative and experienced enough to blend the Wolves’ strange mix of talent; and it gives Kevin Love at least the beginnings of a reason to hang around. Not too bad. Let’s have a party.
The Timberwolves have started negotiations to sign Rick Adelman as their next coach, league sources with knowledge of the search said Sunday.David Kahn, Timberwolves president of basketball operations, might know as soon as Monday whether he can land the man who has a .605 winning percentage in 20 seasons as a NBA head coach. Adelman, 65, is believed to be seeking a five-year contract worth at least $25 million.
That’s a lot of cheddar to give somebody if you don’t even know whether there’ll be a season. But considering the Wolves’ low payroll and the probability that every team’s basketball-related expenditures will be lower in the coming years, I say it’s a good investment. On the other hand, I have less than $100 in my checking account at the moment so I guess it’s easy for me to say.
Look, I know it’s a little weird to be obsessively monitoring the travel plans of an, in most respects, average 66-year-old man. I mean, it’s not like Rick Adelman is carrying a radical cure for Alzheimer’s (which also happens to give apes astonishing powers of intelligence and will usher in the end of human life on Earth) in his suitcase. And part of me agrees with Kelly Dwyer that, considering the Wolves’ brass weird unpredictability and the distinct possibility that they won’t even hire a coach during the lockout, we should just ignore this story until there is an actual name on an actual contract written in actual ink.
But this is what’s going on so I might as well just go ahead and say that Adelman is reported to be in Minneapolis today to meet with Glen Taylor. This is his second trip to the TC in as many weeks, which would seem to point to a level of seriousness yet unprecedented in this coaching search. But the truth is we have no idea what this means and anything we might say is really just speculation.
On that note, I wonder what airline he took and if he got to see a movie. Someone should ask him.
And speaking of things we don’t know anything about, Hoop China is reporting that Michael Beasley broke his wrist while dunking during an exhibition. So far, this is just a rumor of a rumor, written on the winds of Twitter and in languages I don’t read; I’m just putting it out there.