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Scott Howard-Cooper

For a myriad of reasons, Rick Adelman seems like quite the odd fit as the Wolves' next coach.
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Grizzled Adelman a puzzling coaching fit with Timberwolves

Posted Sep 13 2011 11:39AM

It is a strange set of circumstances that doesn't seem to add up. A Rick Adelman imposter is now destined to become the next Timberwolves coach. That must be it. Because the real Adelman would never take this job.

This is so not his kind of assignment. Far from his Oregon home base, far from the playoffs, with an inexperienced roster and a new front office that demanded a previous coach actually write a report on how to get better. That's what Minnesota general manager David Kahn did a few months ago in needlessly rubbing former coach Kurt Rambis' nose in last season's 17-65 finish.

Adelman has had problems with his GMs before. He had an increasingly distant relationship with Geoff Petrie at the end of their successful partnership with the Kings, and Petrie is one of the true professionals. So if Kahn tells Adelman to get back to him with something of the pie-graph variety, the GM no doubt will be greeted with a stone face, or at best pained looks of disgust.

The sure thing, as Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, is that the Timberwolves played this hiring move just right. Exactly the opposite of the mangled Rambis split, in other words. They identified their guy and pursued hard, even as Adelman initially resisted a phone interview and then reportedly asked for a whopping five-year, $25-million contract. Using its place as the last team in need of a coach to its advantage, Minnesota let the process play out and refused to move off Adelman, knowing he couldn't go elsewhere.

The draw for Minnesota is obvious. Adelman's trademark up-tempo offense comes at a time when playing fast is a priority. And Adelman is a winner (945-616 lifetime), lasting at least four seasons at three of his four previous stops, failing only to find stability in Golden State -- like most everyone else.

The appeal for Adelman is more difficult to pin down.

There are the 25 million reasons, sure, and he knows he isn't going to get that kind of payout in many places in this economy. Still, Adelman isn't a money guy. He probably would have taken the Lakers' gig for less. Adelman is as far removed from the bling world as possible. He has worked constantly and made good money, and then goes home to a quiet family life. Every indication is that he lives well within his means. Certainly, he won't need to schmooze with bigwigs like Kahn or owner Glen Taylor, or anyone else for that matter. This is not someone who will make regular appearances to rally the fans.

The location, for one, is wrong. Not the Twin Cities per se. But Adelman is West Coast to the core -- raised in suburban Los Angeles, attended what is now Loyola Marymount, played five of his seven NBA seasons in San Diego and Portland. He began his coaching career at an Oregon junior college, made a permanent home in Portland and worked the sidelines for the Trail Blazers, Warriors and Kings before taking the Houston job in 2007. Texas isn't near the Pacific Coast, but the Rockets offered the chance for long playoff runs and had an owner (Leslie Alexander) and general manager (Daryl Morey) who were aggressive and smart. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, regardless of location.

The team is wrong. Adelman has done well with veteran teams, especially the Trail Blazers and Kings, and he re-shaped the Rockets into overachievers as Yao Ming's injuries piled up. He is not a strong disciplinarian, preferring instead to let players act like adults. Now Adelman has a roster loaded with kids, including two rookies projected to hold major roles and others still trying to handle NBA responsibility.

The operation is wrong, too. The first time GM Kahn goes to an extreme to flaunt power -- or asks for a response double-spaced -- Adelman starts thinking hard about the family time he's missing in Portland. Plus, he is now without long-time top lieutenant Elston Turner, a primary buffer, since the Suns hired Turner for Alvin Gentry's staff.

Waiting through what could be an extended lockout for the next wave of openings could not have been appealing to Adelman. There's the money. And it is one of just 30 jobs of that sort.

It just isn't Adelman's kind of job.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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