65 year old Rick Adelman was introduced today, as the 11th coach in the 22 year history of the Minnesota Timberwolves organization. With his big money, four year $20 million contract, he should easily eclipse the two year average per Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach (epic fail.) At least we (presumably) have a coach who knows what he’s doing, as Adelman comes into Minnesota with the eight most coaching wins all-time, standing at 945 wins to 616 losses, a winning percentage of .605. His teams have made the playoffs 16 times in his 20 years of coaching, with only 3 losing seasons. The T-Wolves, on the other hand, well… does anyone even remember what playoff basketball is like at Target Center? Let’s just move on. (P.S. GO LYNX!!!)
At his press conference today, Adelman said: “I see this as a great opportunity and a challenge. I feel this is a chance to build something. You’re not that far from turning things around here. I don’t care what happened here before. There’s no reason why we can’t be better. The players have to believe that. They should believe that. Everything is here for this team to make strides.” But is that what he was REALLY thinking? No, of course not. Please click “Read More” below, to see the transcript of an interview with Timberwolves PR Guru Jonah Ballow, which Adelman may or may not have personally sent me earlier today. He was also even kind enough to include his own thoughts and notes about everything.*
And here is the transcript (with his notes!) that Rick Adelman sent me…
Jonah Ballow: A special day for Timberwolves fans, as we welcome in head coach Rick Adelman, the 11th coach in franchise history. First of all, welcome to the Twin Cities and thanks so much for joining us today. Taking a look back at your decision to leave last year and possibly take a year off — what made your decision with this team a little bit easier as far as coming back to the game and signing on with the Timberwolves?
Rick Adelman: When I said that, it was earlier in the summer and there was a lot of things going on in the summer and I just wanted to take some time. As we got through August and everything, I was approached by the Timberwolves and I started thinking about it and started looking at the situation and I thought it was a good young team — I thought it would be a good opportunity.
What I, Rick Adelman, was REALLY thinking: What the hell am I doing?!? I’m too old for this crap! I thought if I just ignored KAAAAAAAAHN long enough, he’d eventually leave me alone. Alas, twas not to be. But then in the end, there’s no way I could turn down that gigantic gob of money. Worst case scenario, I have to stay here 4 years and make $20 million cool ones. Best case scenario… well, it’s Glen Taylor and David Kahn we are talking about here. They might fire me after the second year when we win only 23 games.
Jonah Ballow: What excites you about this team? Looking at the owner, Glen Taylor, David Kahn also in the fold here and some young players and talent. I’ve got to think those are some things to excite you as a head coach.
Rick Adelman: I think Glen has always had a great reputation as an owner and when I met with him, he is very committed to get this thing going in the right direction and I’ve known David for a long time. It’s a good, young group of players and you have to find a way to get them to play better and to come together as a group. They certainly have talent; it’s just a matter of finding a way to make that talent come together on the court.
What I was REALLY thinking: What excites me… about, THIS team? Gee. Ummm. The money, I guess. Oh, and the extremely low expectations. Pressure is a bad thing.
Jonah Ballow: Looking back at your career, so much success over the 20 seasons, over 61 percent winning percentage in Portland, Sacramento, and Houston. What’s your philosophy with a team that has that talent there but just needs that extra step to take it to the next level?
Rick Adelman: We have to find a way to figure out how we are going to succeed as a team. At the offensive end, I think they showed last year they can score points. They’ve got some good offensive players — they got better as the year went on. It’s the defensive end where we have to be more consistent. We have to find a way to defend better, cut down the easy baskets, and it’s just going to take hard work. I think each one of the players have to make commitment to not only guard their own guy but be part of five guys working together. You don’t win in this league unless you make stops down the stretch in the key times in the game and they struggled with that last year.
What I was REALLY thinking: My philosophy is to get rid of sucky players and get better ones. Sucky players = Jonny Flynn, Darko, all the white guys except Kevin Love, everyone they have drafted lately except that Derrick Williams rookie (could be good maybe?), the other big European guy(s) they have. Not Sucky players = Kevin Love. And… well… I’ll come back to this one later. You don’t win in this league unless you have not Sucky players.
Jonah Ballow: Looking back also at some of the teams you have coached, you had players in that post position that moved up to that high post and helped the offensive move smoothly. That’s probably something Wolves fans can look forward to this upcoming season?
Rick Adelman: We have developed a system where we use our big guys a lot around the elbow — we use them as people you can go through but you have to tweak it with each team. Until you get these guys on the court, we have ideas of what we think we can do, it’s a matter of finding out what they really can do. When you find out where the skills are then you have to try to develop a system that takes advantage of that where the players see they can be successful.
What I was REALLY thinking: System? Here’s my system. Just wait until they see me unleash Anthony Randolph at Point Guard. That will really blow their minds. Have you seen that kid’s handles?!? Holy crap, he’s the next Ricky Rubio.
Jonah Ballow: In your long storied career, coaching players like Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, then moving on with Sacramento and Chris Webber, all of the success that you had there, in Houston with a guy like Yao Ming. How important is it to adjust to what your players’ capabilities are and their personalities off the floor?
Rick Adelman: You have to do that, you’ve got to get to know the players. Everybody is different and every player is different and I always take the philosophy that I don’t know what went on in the past with a player or another coach or another team. I’m only concerned with what happens day one with us and I think that is the philosophy I’ve always tried to use and again, you have to find a way for those players to believe they can be successful not only individually but as a team.
What I was REALLY thinking: I was really high when I answered that one. I don’t even know what I’m talking about there, but I had to fill some time.
Jonah Ballow: Is there anything that has changed in your career since the first time you stepped on the floor with Portland? Are there any philosophical changes through your coaching career?
Rick Adelman: I think you learn all the time as you go. When I first started, I was fortunate to have a team in Portland that was totally different from other teams. They were so physically strong and they were so athletic, sometimes we didn’t care if we missed a shot or not because we knew we were going to get the ball back. Sacramento was totally different, it was a team that was more finesse – they passed, they shot, so you learn each group as you go and in Houston it was the same thing with the big fella, you know, you had to adjust to him. That’s what you’re going to have to do here, but by doing that you kind of learn what you can do and you have an idea of how to adjust the system to the players.
What I was REALLY thinking: In other words, we… are… screwed.
Jonah Ballow: At this point in your career what really drives you? Obviously, championships is what we hear from coaches, aside from that what really drives you in this field?
Rick Adelman: Well, I think taking the challenge of getting a young group like this and watching them grow. We had that happen in Houston – we saw a lot of young guys who developed into different roles when you had the injuries to your stars and you watched them grow. I think that’s what I’m looking forward to here. It’s going to be a challenge – if you can get this turned in the right direction these guys could start getting better – who knows what could happen, because you need your young guys to make steps in the right direction and I think that’s going to be our goal.
What I was REALLY thinking: What “drives” me? Hmmm… Ka-CHING! Ka-CHING! Ka-CHING!
Jonah Ballow: I know that the assistant coaches haven’t been quite formulated yet and put together, so how do you look at that staff though and not specific names, but what are their roles going to be on this team?
Rick Adelman: I have a group of about five or six guys that I’m very familiar with and we’re going to put together a very experienced staff. I think a staff that’s for most played in the league, but also has worked in the league as a coach, that knows what it takes, is going to have good work ethic and more importantly is people I can trust. I got to trust that they know what we’re going to do, they’re going to be there every day and that they’re going to motivate the players.
What I was REALLY thinking: I can’t wait to hire a bunch of my old buddies and then take over control of the organization from Kahn. Every day will be a huge soiree (that’s like a party.) It’s gonna be a grand ol’ time. A Coaching Staff though? Ehhhhh… I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Who needs other coaches breathing down their neck anyways? I can lose 60 games per season with this team on my own.
Jonah Ballow: You spoke to some fans about being here when you were with the Sacramento Kings against the Wolves in the playoffs, and seeing that atmosphere, and how important that is to you to get that back here and fans are excited about that as well.
Rick Adelman: You have to have that. I think I’ve always said that the fans can’t get you going, you have to get them going and this was a great atmosphere when they had that run. It was loud – it was a lot like the buildings we had in Portland or Sacramento, even Houston. It’s an atmosphere that we have to create – we have to get them excited.
What I was REALLY thinking: At this point, I’d kill to have the atmosphere of a Lynx playoff game.
Jonah Ballow: Awesome stuff there with Rick Adelman a coach who’s been in the league for 20 years, again like I said, 61 percent winning percentage there and just so much success reaching the Finals twice with the Portland Trail Blazers and then the conference finals with the Sacramento Kings. We can’t wait to cover you this season. Thank you so much for your time.
What I was REALLY thinking: Unlike the lockout, thank god this is finally over.
* If you want to see “real” interviews and crap like that, check out this page over at Timberwolves.com