TREVISO, Italy – Every indication points to Rick Adelman returning as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, president Flip Saunders said, apparently resolving one of the many prominent issues in front of Saunders early in his tenure as head of basketball operations.
Adelman told NBA.com in March that he twice contemplated quitting during the season to be with his wife Mary Kay as she suffered a series of seizures — and that he would again consider stepping away in the summer if doctors were unable to determine a cause or successful treatment. While the winningest active coach in the league following the George Karl-Nuggets breakup has not given Minnesota officials a definitive word, Saunders is taking conversations with Adelman as signals that he will return for 2013-14.
“We’ve talked every day, every other day,” Saunders said during a break at the adidas Eurocamp. “He talks about his staff, he talks about players. We were talking the other day about offenses that I ran, offenses that he ran. Talking just the basketball talk. The talks that we’ve had leads me to believe that he’s going to be back.
“My assumption is just like when I coached. No one really asked me if I was coming back or not. You’re under contract. You’re part of expectations…. And if something changes, then we’ll change as it does. That’s part of what the NBA is all about. Adapting to changes. But I believe he’s going to be back. Mary Kay has made some progress, so that’s the positive. I hope he’s back because I know if he’s back that means that she’s making good progress and getting back on good health. That’s what all our hopes are for.”
Meanwhile, Saunders is scouting in preparation of two first-round picks in the June 27 draft, Nos. 9 and 26, looking to add size on the front line and shooting, trying to resolve a glut of point guards, and awaiting decisions on the futures of Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko. Pekovic becomes a restricted free agent July 1 – “We plan on signing him,” Saunders said – while Kirilenko has to decide days before that whether to stay in his contract or return to free agency.
“We don’t have a gut feel,” Saunders said of Kirilenko’s plans. “It’s a lot of money, at $10 million, to say you’re going to opt out of it. But anything can happen. You know how that goes.”