Adelman, Friends' Endorsements Helped Roy Choose Wolves
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Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman made his presence felt from Day 1 when he took over the team last season, his two decades of head coaching experience and his track record for success gave him instant credibility in a locker room looking to make significant strides from the cellar into postseason conversations.
Adelman has a vision. He knows the type of players he wants on his roster—hard working, versatile, chemistry-building individuals—and he wants guys who can produce on game day. His vision, his success and the way he works with players makes him a well-respected coach to play for.
So when guard Brandon Roy decided to make a comeback and Minnesota became interested, one particular message started to become clear.
“Just talking with people around the NBA, and the first thing they said was if you have a chance to play with Coach Adelman, you should do it,” Roy said. “The way he manages players who maybe have some injuries and can still get the most out of them. He was the big reason.”
Adelman was one of several voices that helped Roy decide which team he’d join as he officially made his NBA comeback on Tuesday at Target Center. Roy, who missed the entire 2011-12 season with ongoing knee problems, became the newest member of the Timberwolves after leaving the game, resting his knees and undergoing a Regenokine injection procedure that helped him control the swelling and pain that once took its toll.
Roy said Tuesday he never referred to his time away as a retirement. Instead, it was a pause—a break from the game he loved in order to see if he could, in fact, still play at a high level.
After taking a couple months off to naturally recover then undergoing the Regenokine procedure, Roy began to test out his skills. He worked out with Wolves assistant Bill Bayno—his former assistant with the Trail Blazers—in Los Angeles and impressed Bayno with his play to the point he reminded his old coach of “the B-Roy of old.”
Roy said that’s the goal. He’s not trying to make a comeback simply to be the 10th player on the bench. He only decided to make his comeback attempt official once he felt he could play at the same level he once did.
He met with Bayno, Adelman and President of Basketball Operations David Kahn in L.A., and immediately there was a sense of mutual interest. Roy, a three-time All-Star and a player known for being one of the league’s nice guys, could bring a veteran presence, a talented scorer and a team-oriented personality to the locker room.
An unexpected offseason move, to be sure, but one the Wolves were thrilled with on Tuesday.
“This one came out of left field,” Kahn said. “It wasn’t until late this spring that Brandon decided to come back to basketball after being away for only a season, and all I can say is I’m just thrilled that he’s with us and not somebody else to resume his career.”
From the initial meetings with Bayno—with whom he built a strong relationship in Portland—and his meetings with Kahn and Adelman, Roy began to feel like Minnesota would be a good fit for the next stage in his career.
He began reaching out to friends familiar with the organization. He touched base with Wolves guard Luke Ridnour, former Wolves guard/forward Martell Webster and former camp invitee Will Conroy, all of whom gave Roy the endorsement to play for the Timberwolves.
That, along with the direction the team is headed, made Minnesota a welcoming destination. Already boasting a talented lineup headlined by All-Star Kevin Love, flashy guard Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic in the paint, the Wolves showed signs that they were ready to contend for a playoff spot last season before a series of injuries put an end to that bid. Minnesota was 21-19 on March 9 when Rubio suffered a season-ending ACL injury.
This offseason, the Wolves went to work and addressed one of their weaknesses from a year ago—their wing play. Bringing in former All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko, forward Chase Budinger, forward Robbie Hummel and guard Alexey Shved not only added size, athleticism and bolstered defense to the roster, it added depth and made the team a more well-rounded offensive team heading into 2012-13.
With Roy, who twice averaged 20-plus points a season and was been a top-10 NBA scorer, the Wolves just added another offensive weapon known for making clutch shots with the game on the line.
“I wanted to be able to go out there and work and be a big part of a team making the next step,” Roy said. “And I thought the pieces were right here, and David talked a lot about the guys they were getting. I think getting Andrei Kirilenko is huge. The pieces are there. You can tell they want to go forward with this team and continue to improve it, and I just wanted to be a part of that improvement.”
Kahn made it known to Roy that he can earn as big a role on the team as he’s able. The durability and longevity of his knees is still an unknown, and how many minutes he’ll play to start the year and throughout the course of the season is still to be seen. Roy acknowledged making sure the team is physically peaking for the playoffs is an important part of any seasons.
But on Tuesday, as Roy met members of the Wolves organization, season ticket members and the media, there was no wavering on how he felt about his decision. Roy is genuinely excited to be back in the NBA, and he said he’s excited to move forward with the Timberwolves organization. The smile on his face never dimmed while doing day-long interviews, promotions and meet-and-greets.
He’s ready to start the next phase of his career.
“I wanted to be part of a team I could really assist and help take that next step,” Roy said. “I’m really excited to be here—my wife is here with me. We’re excited to be part of this community, and we’re looking forward to getting out, connecting with fans and putting a great team on the floor that gives them something to cheer about.”