Adelman to Stay on Timberwolves Staff after Announcing Retirement

Updated: 04/21/2014 4:25 PM
Created: 04/21/2014 9:46 AM
By: Megan Stewart

Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman announced his retirement Monday after 23 years of coaching in the NBA.

Questions have surrounded Adelman's future role with the team since the end of the Wolves' regular season last Wednesday. The announcement came at a scheduled news conference Monday called by President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders to discuss the overall state of the team.

Saunders said the team will keep Adelman on staff as a consultant with the organization.

"I don't consider Rick a coach, I consider him a teacher," Saunders said.

Adelman, 67, joined the Wolves in 2011. The team missed the playoffs all three years under his coaching, twice finishing fifth in the Northwest Division and third this past season. His contract allowed him to opt out of coaching a fourth year for $6 million.

"It's time for me to step aside," Adelman said. "When I came here, we really tried to turn some things around and I think we made some strides."

He missed time this season because his wife was ill. It is suspected this played a large role in his decision to leave.

"I think I'm ready and I think my wife is ready to move on to another phase," Adelman said.

On April 6, 2013, in a game against the Detroit Pistons, Adelman won his 1,000th career game, becoming just the eighth coach in NBA history to reach that milestone. He finishes his coaching career with a record of 1042-749.

Adelman won at least 50 games in a season 11 times in his career, helped turnaround the Portland Trail Blazers in the late 1980s and then built a power in Sacramento 10 years later. He had more modest success with Houston and Minnesota, but walks away with his fingerprints all over the league.

Adelman took Portland to a pair of NBA Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992. He also made four trips to the Western Conference Finals, three of which were with Portland from 1990-92 and once with Sacramento in 2002.

The NBA named Adelman Coach of the Month a total of seven times over his career, three with Portland, two with Sacramento and two with Houston.

While with the Kings, Adelman worked with assistant and former Princeton coach Pete Carril to fine-tune his famed "corner" offense, a precision system that maximized the talents of big men Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Brad Miller, all of whom were gifted passers from the elbow of the lane.

"A lot of people have run the elbow action, but no one's run it like him," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "He started doing it in Portland and then in Sac, everywhere he's gone he's won for the most part. He's one of the better coaches that we've ever had in the league and a lot of people don't realize that. And I think that's too bad. But he's been good for the game. He's brought a lot to the game."

"I've stolen from him, very honestly," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Adelman played professionally from 1968 through 1975. He was selected 79th overall by the San Diego Rockets (now the Houston Rockets) after playing at Loyola Marymount in California.

Adelman said he plans to move back to Portland to spend time with family, especially his grandchildren.

Now Minnesota will head into a precarious summer, with Saunders needing to find the right coach and make the right personnel moves to convince All-Star power forward Kevin Love, who can opt out of his contract after next season, to stick around for the long haul.
Michigan State's Tom Izzo, a friend of Saunders for years, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, a former Timberwolves player and executive, and ESPN analyst George Karl are among the candidates likely to be considered to take over a team that has the longest-running playoff drought in the league at 10 years. Saunders himself could also take over, though Taylor has said he prefers to keep Saunders in the front office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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