I was pretty surprised when word came out yesterday that Rick Adelman had agreed to be the next head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I was under the impression that Adelman wanted to coach a contender and not, you know, the exact opposite of that.
Well, a great man once said, “Money isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. And everyone has a price.” For Adelman, that price turned out to be $25 million over five years. So we have a free agent coach who decided to take a job with one of the worst franchises in the NBA for a lot of money — even Larry Brown doesn’t think that’s newsworthy. But Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports explains how complicated this situation is.
It’s not particularly shocking to learn that Adelman wanted the Lakers job that was given to Mike Brown. Assuming you don’t mind the spotlight, that’s obviously one of the most desirable gigs in the sport. Where this gets interesting is Wojnarowski’s claims that Adelman not only doesn’t respect Timberwolves GM David Kahn, he openly dislikes him.
Privately, Adelman didn’t disguise his disdain for Kahn. They go back to Adelman’s glory days coaching the Portland Trail Blazers in the late 1980s and 1990s, when Kahn was covering the NBA beat as a sportswriter for the Oregonian. The idea that a bad sportswriter had turned into a brutal NBA executive troubled him, sources said. He couldn’t stand him then, and had no intention of resurrecting a working relationship with the man.
Yikes. I’m not sure why Wojnarowski had to call Kahn “a bad sportswriter” (here’s some samples of Kahn’s writing, if you’d like to judge), but let’s not lose focus on the real story here. T-Wolves owner Glen Taylor had to intervene in Adelman’s recruitment and possibly promise him complete autonomy — meaning that he wouldn’t have to deal with Kahn at all — in order for Adelman to take the job. It’s not really going out on a limb for me to point out that it’s not good for a sports franchise if the head coach and general manager don’t get along, and might not even speak to each other.
If Kahn had a real Magic 8-Ball, and asked it today how his future looked with the Timberwolves, it would come up “Outlook not so good.” Barring an unexpected détente with Adelman or a shocking ascension into the 2012 post-season, Kahn’s days in Minnesota are almost certainly numbered. Of course, if you’re a T-Wolves fan, this is even better news than Adelman’s hiring or Ricky Rubio’s arrival.
Maybe there’s hope for this team, after all.