MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — When Rick Adelman parted ways with the Houston Rockets in the spring, he said he thought he had one more coaching job left in him.
Most thought he would wait for the right opportunity with a veteran team on the brink of contending for an NBA title that has eluded him over 20 years in the business.
Thanks to a little cajoling, and a lot of patience, from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Adelman decided instead to plunge into perhaps the biggest challenge of his decorated career.
The Timberwolves introduced Adelman on Wednesday as their next head coach, handing him the reins to the youngest team in the league that has lost 132 games over the last two seasons and appears to be at least a few years away from playoff contention.
"I kept looking at this group and I thought, this could be a really good situation with the youth they have, the talent they have," Adelman said. "You never know what you can do and I felt it was a great challenge and so I decided it's a good place, it's a good place to take the challenge up and try to turn things around."
There were times this summer that Adelman admitted to being resigned to taking the year off, just as he's done between his other jobs. Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn sensed Adelman was grappling with the decision so he tried to give the coach as much time as he needed to make up his mind.
"I just felt like the last thing he needed was feeling me pressing him. He needed the opposite," Kahn said. "He needed some time alone, needed to think. Me calling every few days would've probably had a terrible affect. I made certain I'd say to him, I will not call you for X amount of time. Maybe I'll call then and we'll see what you're thinking then."
As the summer wore on and talks with the Lakers went nowhere, Adelman really examined the roster and started to warm to the idea of spending the twilight years of his coaching career in snowy Minnesota.
Adelman is eighth on the career coaching victories list with 945 and has led a team to the playoffs 16 times, including two NBA finals appearances with the Portland Trail Blazers. That resume has added credibility to a reeling franchise.
"His presence here because of that success creates an aura of confidence that settles over our entire organization," Kahn said.
Because of the lockout, Adelman could not speak specifically about how players such as Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams will fit into his system. But he did say he was intrigued about working with a team that has so much to learn.
Adelman recalled fondly how he worked with a number of young and inexperienced players in his last few seasons in Houston and how the experience energized him and left him more open to the idea of teaching again.
"I just feel I can do this," Adelman said. "I need good people around me, I need good people in the organization. So I feel I have a lot left in the tank, I've been doing it a long time, I finished last year and I felt good about it and I'm hoping it's going to continue."
Adelman has known Kahn for more than 20 years, dating to the days when Adelman coached the Blazers and Kahn was a sports writer for The Oregonian. Shortly after he was hired two weeks ago, there were reports alleging that Adelman was taking the job in spite of Kahn and that the coach disliked the executive.
But both denied those reports on Wednesday and said they looked forward to forging a close, collaborative working relationship.
"I wouldn't be here if that was the case," Adelman said. "I don't know where that came from. People talk all the time. We've known each other for 25 years. I started talking to him a week after I got back from Houston. We had a lot of discussion. I don't know where that came from, but why would I want to come to a place and work with somebody that I didn't like?"
Kahn said any reports of a bad relationship were "pure fiction."
"It's always been easy for me, I've known Rick for 25 years, to talk basketball with him," Kahn said. "At the same time, we're not friends in the sense of we don't socialize. We don't hang out together. We didn't back then and that's not the relationship I think we'll have here.
"But on basketball matters, it's always been easy to talk to him just as it will continue to be easy to talk to him about our team."
Kahn did acknowledge that communication was an issue with Kurt Rambis, who was fired earlier this summer. But both he and Adelman seem determined to make things work together.
"It's got to come from both of us and I think the players then respond to that," Adelman said. "The whole organization has to be as one and the situations I've been in it's been that way. You have input, you give input. It's going to come from (owner Glen Taylor) to David and me, I think we're all going to be as one when we make decisions."
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