Minnesota Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has brought up retirement as an option for him during this upcoming offseason, which is completely understandable. Adelman remains one of the league’s better coaches, but he’s worked as one of the league’s better husbands by taking time off from the Timberwolves’ season in January to attend to the care of his wife Mary Kay after she was hospitalized.
Even if the Wolves were on the fast track to a playoff berth, his wife’s ongoing health concerns would be more than enough to move Adelman toward stepping away for good in order to stay at her side as he recovers. NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper was the first to break the news:
“They’ve been terrific with everything,” he said of management, as wife Mary Kay was hospitalized and doctors tried to determine the cause of seizures. Now, clearly worn down by difficult months on the personal front and a challenging season on the court as the Timberwolves drown in a flurry of injuries, he admitted, “there’s a couple times I really struggled whether I should come back.” He later added: “I’m sure I’ll be thinking more about it as we move on here (through the season).”
“It’s unfair for me to talk about that when I’m asking these guys to finish the season off and compete,” Adelman, a private man, said before the Timberwolves played the Kings at Sleep Train Arena. “And that’s all I’m trying to do now. I think there will be a right time to look at everything. I don’t want to really talk about those types of things until it’s done.”
Adelman’s second quote is telling – his team still has 16 games left to play in 2012-13 and he probably regrets talking up a potential walkaway too much while still demanding they play hard as the team plays out the string. Minnesota won’t be making the playoffs this year, the squad is on pace for just 29 wins despite postseason expectations that were set last summer when Minnesota upgraded its wing attack. Outside of perhaps Chicago, still working without a former league MVP, no team has been hit harder by injuries than the Timberwolves. This has made this mess of a season all the more unbearable.
Not to equate the two – basketball players missing basketball games is in no conceivable way similar to what Mary Kay Adelman is working through and we want to stress as much – but the duel wallop of a lost season and the personalized health problems have to be wearing on the Timberwolves coach. Adelman has missed 11 games this season, and the team’s 2-9 record under interim head coach Terry Porter has less to do with Porter’s work and more to do with the fact that the Timberwolves just haven’t been right for the entire season.
Ricky Rubio, while still recovering from an ACL tear, was working through a terrible shooting streak during Porter’s turn as head coach. Former All-Star Kevin Love has played just 18 games all season, shooting a miserable 35 percent from the field as he recovered from a right hand injury, and it’s possible he’ll miss the end of the season for the second straight year. Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko have combined to miss 33 games, Chase Budinger has played in just seven contests (though he’s set to return this weekend), Josh Howard suffered a season-ending ACL tear, and Brandon Roy’s comeback never got off the ground as he works through a debilitating knee condition.
As a result, the team that was constructed to work as an offense-first extension of Rick Adelman’s ahead-of-its-time spaced-out play calling is just 26th out of 30 teams in offensive efficiency, a damning number from a team that had top-five offensive intentions.
Though a potential retirement from Adelman would be unfortunate for dozens of reasons, in the basketball terms (off-court worries excluded; again, we’re not comparing) this disappointing 2012-13 result would have to rank at the top of the list. Losing an All-Star for nearly an entire season, while watching him miss 65 percent of his shots while recovering from injury took the legs out from this Timberwolves team. All the signs that led us to consider the Wolves a playoff contender as 2011-12 wrapped up are still in place, though, with Pekovic and Rubio getting better every game and Derrick Williams playing fantastic basketball over the last two months.
It’s understandable for any coach to want to walk away even without the off-court considerations. Luckily for us, and Timberwolves fans, one local reporter doesn’t think Adelman will follow through on the consideration once summer hits:
1 note to add on the Adelman weighing resigning story: Glen Taylor told me recently that he expects Rick back (wife got good news recently).
— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) March 22, 2013
That’s speculation, to be sure, but with an outcome we can get behind.
Mary Kay Adelman’s return to good health is of paramount importance, here – far ahead of whether or not Rick Adelman coaches more basketball games for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2013-14. For all involved, though, it would just be nice to get back to the promise of what the summer of 2012 held. And the hope that when Rick Adelman does decide to walk away from this league, it will be for entirely different reasons.