Coach Connection: Terry Porter

Editor’s Note: This week, profiles each of the four Wolves assistant coaches. In Part 1, Terry Porter talks about his long relationship with Rick Adelman and the Timberwolves organization and why joining the staff this year was a perfect fit.

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Terry Porter found his niche in the NBA playing for a coach who knew his position first-hand. Coming up in the Portland Trail Blazers organization, Porter learned how to be a productive point guard in the league through Rick Adelman—a former guard who played seven years in the NBA.

Adelman spent Porter’s first three years as a Blazers assistant coach before taking over mid-season in 1988-89, and over the next five seasons the two would help Portland reach two NBA Finals and put together a three-year stretch in which the team won 73 percent of its games.

“I’ve been fortunate to be on teams with him, and we’ve talked from a player-coach relationship about the point guard position and about the teams we were on, so we have a great relationship in regards to that,” Porter said.

It’s a relationship that began in Portland and is still thriving today. When Porter retired as a player, he joined Adelman’s staff in 2002 with the Sacramento Kings. This year, with Adelman taking over the Timberwolves, Porter took the opportunity to not only rejoin his former coach’s staff but also help bring his knowledge of the game to the team he played for from 1995-98.

Porter has been a pivotal part of Adelman’s coaching staff this season, helping develop a youthful back court led by rookie guard Ricky Rubio. During any Wolves practice, Porter can be found working with those guards, helping them understand the game as they adjust to the NBA style of play.

“He brings a lot,” shooting guard Wayne Ellington said. “It’s always great when you have a former player, especially a player that has done really well, to be able to mentor you. He can show you things rather than just tell you. He’s been great for us so far.”

Porter spent 17 seasons in the NBA playing for the Blazers, Wolves, heat and Spurs. He logged more than 35,000 minutes and made 46 percent of his shots in the league, including the 28th most 3-pointers in NBA history (1,297).

He was part of the Timberwolves’ first two playoff teams in franchise history in 1997 and 1998, teaming with Kevin Garnett, Stephon Marbury and Tom Gugliotta to bring an exciting brand of basketball to Target Center.

Being a veteran on those Wolves teams that had already made deep runs into the playoffs, Porter said part of the fun in those years was seeing his younger teammates get a taste of the postseason.

“Just for me, obviously I’d done a lot in the playoffs, but it was fun to see some of the young guys get excited for the process,” Porter said.

Now, Porter is teaming with Adelman to help revive the Wolves once again. Despite the loss of Rubio for the season and a difficult March road trip spanning seven games, Minnesota is still in playoff contention and will efforts from its entire roster to continue that postseason push.

Much of that will depend on the play of Minnesota’s back court—point guards Luke Ridnour, JJ Barea and Malcolm Lee and shooting guards Ellington and Martell Webster.

Porter understands the importance of strong guard play, especially from the point guard position.

“The thing about a point guard that is so difficult when you talk about this league is you’ve got to know everyone’s options,” Porter said. “You’ve got to know everybody. It’s one of the toughest spots to come in as a rookie and learn because you have to know what matchups are like from game to game, how you can maximize those advantages you have.”

Ellington said Porter’s experience and his relationship with Adelman have both been important pieces to the Wolves’ success this season.

“You can tell they’ve worked together before and they have an understanding,” Ellington said. “He also has an understanding of what coach wants.”

Porter said he’s been able to learn from Adelman on a personal and professional level for more than two decades. For him, it’s a natural fit.

“I think overall we believe in the same principles as far as coaching and how the game should be played,” Porter said.

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