Wolves finally get one right
Philadelphia, PA – The Twin Cities basketball scene hasn't La recently.
Since trading the face of the franchise, future Hall of Famer. Kevin Garnett, in July of 2007 to the Boston Celtics for five players, two first-round draft picks, and cash considerations in what was the largest combination of players and picks ever traded for a single player in NBA history, Minnesota has floundered.
While Garnett went on to capture the 2008 NBA Finals with his new teammates in Beantown, the Timberwolves have won a total of 78 games over the four seasons since he left, a minuscule average of 19.5 triumphs a season.
Randy Wittman, Kevin McHale and Kurt Rambis have all failed on the bench in Minnesota while president of basketball operations David Kahn, who took over for McHale back in June of 2009, has morphed into a bit of a punchline and is often ridiculed for the way he does business.
In fact, Kahn's missteps over the past two-plus years have done the impossible, they have actually rehabilitated McHale's own tarnished legacy in Minny. Whether it was drafting three point guards in the first round, calling Darko Milicic "Manna from Heaven" or blaming Michael Beasley's trial and tribulations on "smoking too much weed," Kahn has become the NBA's yardstick for ineptitude.
But whatever you think about Kahn, he finally got one right on Tuesday when he and the franchise agreed to terms on a contract with Rick Adelman.
"Houston, we have a coach," All-Star forward Kevin Love tweeted Monday, when it became clear Adelman would be the guy to bring credibility back to a limping franchise.
Perhaps the most underrated coach in all of pro basketball, the 20-year veteran is a living, breathing light at the end of the tunnel for a team hanging its hopes on a very young group led by Love, a player Adelman has a long history with thanks to his son. Love played on the same Oregon high school team as Adelman's offspring and the two got to know each other well while Adelman attended games.
Familiarity with the team's star is the least of Adelman's attributes, however. The 65-year-old has a 945-616 career record during head coaching stints in Portland, Sacramento, Golden State and Houston before leaving the Rockets this past April, who in turn hired McHale.
Adelman ranks eighth all-time in NBA coaching wins, led Portland to a pair of NBA Finals appearances (1990,'92) and has just two losing seasons in 18 full seasons on the bench. His resume also boasts four Western Conference finals appearances (1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92 with Portland and 2002 with Sacramento) and four division titles (1990-91 and 1991-92 with Portland; 2001-02 and 2002-03 with Sacramento).
Additionally, Adelman's teams have reached the NBA playoffs in 16 of his 20 seasons as a head coach, and he holds an all-time playoff record of over .500 at 79-78. Meanwhile, he is one of only five head coaches in NBA history to win 60-plus games with two different clubs (Portland and Sacramento).
Despite all that success Adelman has always played the bridesmaid, finishing second in the NBA Coach of the Year voting four times.
So while he may fly just under the national radar, those in the game know just how good Adelman is. Perhaps his most impressive coaching job came over the past two seasons when he kept Houston competitive despite the absence of Yao Ming. Heck, he left South Texas after leading the Rockets to a 193-135 mark over four seasons, his .588 winning percentage being the best in franchise history.
Adelman's ability to get the most out of his players can't be underestimated especially in Minnesota since Love will be joined by this year's No. 2 overall pick, Derrick Williams, and unproven Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio as the cornerstones of the Wolves.
Meanwhile, his arrival in the Twin Cities already has many adjusting the Timberwolves' long-term forecast skyward for the first time since Garnett packed his bags.