Wolves Show Adelman Overwhelming Support As He Returns To Practice

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Timberwolves assistant coach Terry Porter has gone through difficult personal situations during his basketball career, and in some of his toughest moments coach Rick Adelman was there to help him through. During his playing career while with the Portland Trail Blazers, Porter lost both his parents in the span of two years. Adelman, then the Blazers’ coach, was there to help him through those difficult times.

When Porter arrived at practice after hearing of his father’s passing during the 1992 season, Adelman was there to tell him to be with his family and get away from the game for a while. As Adelman said Monday, some things in life are more important than basketball.

Twenty years later in Minnesota, as Adelman has tended to his ailing wife during the past three weeks, Porter had the opportunity to help aid Adelman in his time of need. Given their history and the evolution of their relationship through Porter’s time as a player, coach and friend, he was more than happy to fill that role as acting head coach this month.

“He’s been there for me when I’ve had issues with my family,” Porter said. “And I’m thankful to be here when he had something flare up.”

Adelman returned to practice on Monday at Target Center after missing the past 11 games dating back to Jan. 8 against Atlanta. Through injuries and adjusted roles to the coaching staff everyone filled a role in his absence, but there was visible excitement and a renewed optimism after practice that stems back to Adelman’s presence back on the court.

J.J. Barea said it was the best practice the team had in weeks. Andrei Kirilenko said simply having Adelman back at practice is a big deal. Porter said hearing his voice was great for the players.

For Adelman, who watched all the team’s games live and complimented the players and coaches for weathering a tough stretch of basketball and circumstances, returning was not only an important step for the team but also a sign that his wife’s health is progressing at home.

“I think everyone has their own situation in all walks of life, the difference between mine is it’s more public,” Adelman said. “But I think the important thing is we’re going to move forward in a positive manner and hopefully I can come back and get our team in the right direction. This group has played very hard. I felt bad for them, felt bad for the coaches, everybody. It’s a tough situation.”

Adelman talked daily with Porter as well as some of the players and his son, player development coach David Adelman, during his absence.

He didn’t waste time jumping back in. Barea said Adelman was active in his first practice back, pulling players aside to talk about positioning and circumstances throughout the afternoon. The Wolves stayed to a similar practice structure as usual, but Kirilenko said even the small adjustments and concentration in little drills made a difference.

He said morale during his absence was a concern based on the situation and the team’s rough stretch—Minnesota went 2-9 in his absence.

“Always, always. I think it’s a difficult situation to go through,” Adelman said. “We’ve played hard every game. I don’t know how many times we’ve had the lead. It gets tiring when you lose games like that, but like I said it’s the way it is. It happens.”

He said he didn’t want to come back until he knew there was a good chance he could return in full, saying it wouldn’t be fair to the coaches and players if he came back for a or two and left. He said he plans on coaching Wednesday against the Clippers “if they’ll let me.”

Knowing that stability is there and adds even more to the return of this coach that means so much to the organization and his players.

“He said he was watching every game, and those little mistakes we made, he kind of mentioned it,” Kirilenko said. “That’s important when you feel like your head coach gets back and he’s controlling and monitoring the situation.”

Quick hits

  • Wolves center Nikola Pekovic (right quad contusion) and guard Alexey Shved (sprained left ankle) each participated in practice on Monday and helped fill out the roster on the court. It allowed the Wolves the ability to have enough players for 5-on-5 drills. Adelman said both guys looked OK. “We need to have people back, get our team back and see what we can do with it,” Adelman said.

  • Adelman joked that the one thing he wouldn’t help Porter with is paying for his technical he received against the Nets on Wednesday. Porter joked he might pass a hat around the locker room to see if the players will help out.

  • Monday is the final day of the Chris Johnson and Mickael Gelabale 10-day contracts. The team will decide whether or not to offer a second 10-day contract to either or both. In order to offer both additional 10-day contracts, the team must be granted an extension of their NBA hardship exception.

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