MINNEAPOLIS — Now that Rick Adelman on Monday morning announced his retirement after 1,402 NBA career coaching victories, what’s next for the Minnesota Timberwolves?
Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said he’ll conduct an “extensive” search for the next coach after consulting with owner Glen Taylor.
“We’re going to look in a lot of different areas,” Saunders said.
Saunders, who also owns a small piece of the team, again on Monday refused to rule himself out as a candidate, paraphrasing what Adelman said at his retirement news conference about coaching again.
“I’m not going to answer that,” Saunders said when asked if he could do both jobs. “Rick said that you never know.”
Saunders said he’s seeking someone who will bring an offensive identity to the team like Adelman did and someone with “a track record” — he has won 638 NBA games — but didn’t say that necessarily means NBA head-coaching experience.
Saunders’ steadfast refusal to rule himself out, even though Taylor says thinks both jobs is too much for anyone but a “special person,” leaves him as a prime candidate. Other include coaches with whom he’s friendly — Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, television analyst Jeff Van Gundy — as well as proven NBA head coaches George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Stan Van Gundy, Sam Mitchell and possibly former New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson.
ESPN reported the Wolves have interest in Florida coach Billy Donovan.
Karl’s agent last week indicated his client wouldn’t be interested in a rebuilding job such as the Wolves’, not with star Kevin Love’s future in so much doubt. Jeff Van Gundy avoided answering whether he’d be interested in the job on a conference call last week.
Saunders said during a press conference Monday morning that Adelman would remain with the team as a consultant.
“I think it’s time for me to step aside and have someone else come in,” Adelman said. “It’s not that far away. ... I think there are a lot of great pieces on this team. I wish I could have done more but I truly enjoyed my time.”
Saunders said, “The thing I respect about Rick is his competitiveness. You might not think he gets excited, but he has a burning passion, and you could see it on a daily basis. I don’t consider Rick a coach; I consider him a teacher.”
His team finished the season with a 40-42, easily the franchise’s best in nearly a decade — since the 2004-05 team went 44-38 — but still nine games out of the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
Promoted from a NBA assistant to Portland’s head coach in February 1989, Adelman coached the Trail Blazers, Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and the Wolves in a career that now is bound for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“There’s some sadness, but there’s also some relief,” Adelman said this morning. “I’m ready, and I think my wife is ready, to move on to other things.”
At age 67, he retires eighth on the NBA’s all-time list for coaching victories, behind only all-time leader Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, George Karl and Larry Brown.
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