Tag Archives: Rick Adelman

Three Bees

'Bazz plays tonight against 'Bron and Beas.

‘Bazz plays tonight against ‘Bron and Beas.

The Timberwolves play tonight (6:30 CDT tip, views on FSN, sounds on WCCO 830).

So, the Wolves aren’t in playoff contention. The Twins season is underway. The weather is nice should be getting better soon. Only the diehard are following the team as closely as they were a few months ago.

However, there’s a special interest in tonight’s game. Scratch that – three special interests: ‘Bazz, Beas, and, of course, ‘Bron. Three Bees, three angles.

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The Tense Disconnect Between Adelman and Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

“I thought he was really active, but… this group has, uh… How do I put it?

(sighs)

When we’re 28 or 25 points up, we don’t need to score quick. I mean, we don’t have to make HERO PLAYS. We threw the ball away in the third quarter and even the last possession with a minute to go, we steal it, and Ricky throws that pass out of bounds trying to get it to Kevin–WHY?

Sooner or later that’s gonna cost you the game! We have to have more discipline in what we do. I don’t care what the score is, and that’s what we have to learn. It’s hurt us in the past and it will hurt us again.”

A leading question about Ricky Rubio’s good performance was posed to Rick Adelman.

It was supposed to elicit praise.

Instead, he got worked up.

Adelman’s team had just beaten the Pistons in convincing fashion. His starters dominated almost every second they touched the floor. Rubio in particular played well, nearly compiling a triple double (11 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds) in just under 36 minutes of action. Ricky’s 3 turnovers were offset by the same number of steals.

Rather than focus on the positives (which he explicitly said that he was going to do, a moment earlier in response to a question about his bench’s struggles) Adelman went on this vague, critical rant about “this group” that seemed — in context — a lot more like a thinly veiled, direct shot at Ricky Rubio.

If you have been following this Timberwolves season with any interest, you’ve noticed a simmering tension between Ricky Rubio’s playing style and Rick Adelman’s offensive vision. The tension is manifested in three ways:

First is the offense itself.

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A Retrospective on the Knicks, A Prospective on the Pistons

Chauncey Billups, Suited Up. (Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Chauncey Billups, Suited Up. (Photo credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Wolves lost to New York on Wednesday night 118-106. The Knicks seized the initiative right away, and the game was only really close after an  8-0 run in the third-quarter brought the Wolves to within three, with the ball.

On the ensuing possession, Kevin Love  got the ball on the block against Tyson Chandler and shot an ill-advised jump hook airball. It was a look Love has made plenty this season, including against solid defenders who are longer than he is.

But on Wednesday it was emblematic of his struggles to establish himself as the purveyor of the game. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler instead did that.

Neutralizing Kevin Love

You see, Love typically sets his self apart from the competition each and every night, doing things in quantity and quality that have almost never been seen before. Usually when Love steps on the court, “u alreddy kno” who it is, to paraphrase famed Canis Hoopus commenter MAYNHOLUP!, because of Love’s dizzying barrage of three-point shooting, outlet passing, offensive rebounding, high-low feeds, foul draws, and, yes, jump hooks. There might not be a more unique player in the NBA – including LeBron James and Kevin Durant. 

If in most games, Love stands out like the unique superstar he is, in the New York game, he blended in – in the wrong way – like the role player his critics expected him to be when he came into the League.

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Wolves vs. Hawks (The Uncertainty Edition)

Paul Millsap leads the Hawks against the Timberwolves tonight in Atlanta.

Paul Millsap leads the Hawks against the Timberwolves tonight in Atlanta.

Coming off of last night’s disappointing 94-90 loss to Memphis at home, the Wolves take on the Atlanta Hawks tonight in Atlanta in the second game of a back-to-back.

The Wolves had won five of six before falling to Memphis, but despite their stronger record as of late, at least three things still feel very off.

The first and most obvious is how the loss of center Nikola Pekovic has impacted the Wolves offense.

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Reversal of Fortune? Wolves vs. Mavericks (The holiday dregs edition)

Dirk N. and his hat will be squaring off tonight against the Wolves in Dallas

Dirk N. and his hat will be squaring off tonight against the Wolves in Dallas

(Eds. Note: Andy G and Patrick J clearly don’t know what to do with themselves over a long weekend because they both wrote preview posts, unbeknownst to the other. Here’s part deux.)

The Timberwolves are in Dallas to take on Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks tonight at 7:30 CST. The Wolves have lost three straight. They’re now 8-9. After getting off to a quick 7-2 start, this the first time this season  the Wolves have been under .500.

‘Sota needs a reversal of fortune in a bad way. And by “fortune,” I mean “effort and execution.” They showed neither in Wednesday night’s home loss against Denver, a point that Rick Adelman lamented repeatedly in his terse post-game presser. Referring to the loss on the Wolves’ home court, Adelman  said,  “the players can’t expect the fans to pump them up. That’s backward. (The players) need to get the fans going.”

(Eds. Note: When you hear a coach emphatically describe how his team wasn’t ready to play and didn’t give the effort you expect from a group of professional athletes–his group of professional athletes–you immediately see the stark difference between a coach who has absolutely no concern about his job security and the majority who aren’t so lucky to have the same leash.)

It was clear that after three straight losses, Adelman has lost any patience with which he began the season for the Wolves’ propensity for unforced errors, lackadaisical defense, and their failure to do basic things–like, say, blocking out opposing bigs (and Andre Miller) on the defensive boards–for painfully long stretches in winnable games.

Worse than that, Adelman clearly knows he doesn’t have a magic bullet to use now that he needs one.

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Is it time to press the panic button?

rickpanic

This is not how they wanted to enter the holiday. Having lost four of their past five games and with a brutal four-game stretch after Thanksgiving, the Timberwolves needed to win at home against the Denver Nuggets. Although Brian Shaw’s team came in riding a three-game winning streak (to say nothing of the 57 games they won last season, before significant off-season shakeups) and had already beaten the Wolves once this year, it was a game that Minnesota needed to win if it wanted to continue the early-season positivity giving rise to expectations of an overdue playoff berth.

As you probably already know, the Wolves did not win. In what was possibly the worst defensive performance of the season the Wolves lost 117-110 on the Target Center floor against a team that they’ll almost definitely need to be better than, in order to crack the Top 8 of the Western Conference. In the game’s early stages, Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler made shots. Some were contested better than others. But as the game went on, the Wolves defense softened up considerably, allowing a mixed bag of wide open threes and wide open layups and dunks. Denver ended the game 8 for 16 from downtown. In the fourth quarter, they didn’t have to rely on threes as they managed to get to the rim almost at will. Three consecutive crunchtime possessions ended with Denver dunks.

After the game, Adelman lamented the surprisingly-poor effort:

“I was just really disappointed with our effort — the first half especially. We just, defensively, we allowed them to do whatever they wanted to do. Everything we had on the board, they did. We gotta figure out what we’re gonna do from this point forward because you can’t defend like that. We can’t have the energy coming into a home game like that.”

“We were so passive. We have to get more aggressively physical if we’re gonna play in this league.”

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INBOX: Wolves Preseason: Minnesota Loses to Toronto 104-97, Now With More Othyus Jeffers

Patrick J: The Wolves were defeated by the Raptors last night 104-97. The Raps are a surprisingly good 3-1 on the preseason.

A few notes:

*Kevin Love: Kevin Love played like Kevin Love. He looks more and more like Daniel Plainview by the year. Which is actually pretty cool, because that’s the kind of ruthless competitiveness the Wolves need in order to become an elite team in the Western Conference. Love played well in the minutes he got last night, shooting 9-19 (Eds. Note: Many of those missed shots were misses of his own putbacks, for which he got credit for offensive rebounds, which eventually led to makes.) K-Love is in great shape, and, barring injury, he should be a shoo-in on the All-Star team this season.

*Ricky Rubio: Ricky shot like Ricky, which is to say, 0-7. But he made an impact whilst on the floor, finding open cutters and shooters unlike any other Wolves player entrusted with the ball whilst Ricky was on the bench. Ricky had 6 assists in 28 minutes, and this was good for a +8. He’s (obviously) a very legit point guard coming into this season, and will only improve when he has real wing options off the pick and roll. (Chase, get well soon! You too, Kevin Mart!)

What’s your take?

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Media Day Takeaway: The Love & Adelman Edition

kevlaaarrr

For better or worse I went into my first media day without much of a plan, beyond “take an extra hour for lunch.”  I wasn’t sure exactly where to go. (Thanks Darren Wolfson for pointing me toward the press room.) Or how to act as a newbie in a room stock full of veteran sports reporters. (Thanks Britt Robson for the pointers.)  I had no questions prepared.  (So I didn’t ask any!)

But despite my naivete on the logistics and intramedia etiquette, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of interview answers from the players and the coach.  I’ve read enough newspapers and watched enough SportsCenter to know that media day is not usually the time for candor or nuance when discussing a season on the immediate horizon.

Against this backdrop of low expectations, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised.  Sid Hartman asked Coach Adelman for a starting five; a notoriously skirted question for a team about to break for camp.  Adelman listed Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic as four locks.  After some hemming and hawing, he confirmed what many of us already suspect: Corey Brewer will probably be the starting small forward.

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Exploring the Timberwolves 2013-14 Vulnerabilities

Ricky's Summer Camp

Ricky’s Summer Camp

We’re t-minus 10 days from the beginning of Timberwolves training camp, and it’s time to begin musing about the upcoming season.

We know the big news from the offseason:

  • Flip Saunders is now running the show, with Milt Newton riding shotgun and Bobby Jackson in the mix too. David Kahn is gone.
  • Rick Adelman and Nik Pekovic are back.
  • Love and Budinger are reportedly healthy. Word on the street is that Love is in shape. If true, this is a very good thing.
  • Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin are in.
  • Luke Ridnour is gone. So is Andrei Kirilenko. (Mikhail Prokhorov apparently made AK an offer he couldn’t refuse. Can’t really blame him.)
  • J.J. Barea’s still here, and as far as I know, he’s also still divorced. Alexey Shved is still here, and as far as I know, he’s still partying. (Eds. Note:  I actually don’t know that, I just like to think he is.)
  • Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng got drafted.
  • AJ Price might come to camp and compete for prime real estate at the end of the Wolves’ bench.
  • Ricky Rubio has been bicycling and kayaking through Europe. He took a break recently to play for Spain in Eurobasket.
  • Oh, and Derrick Williams still has a pulse. (Eds. Note: That is confirmed based on his tweets, unless someone’s ghost-tweeting from his Twitter. Whether or not he has improved his footwork to a semi-competent level remains unconfirmed.)

All in all, this year’s team has the makings of a good one….(more below the fold)

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INBOX: The “We haven’t discussed Kevin Love in a while” Edition

Kevin Love and Jonah Hill: Studies in Weight Fluctuations

Kevin Love and Jonah Hill: Studies in Weight Fluctuations

The roster is mostly set. (C’mon, Pek, sign that dotted line…) The coaching staff seems to be in place, replete with a (David) Adelman for Billy Bayno swap and Shawn Respert proxying for the late Pete Newell as the Wolves new big man coach instead of teaching Ricky Rubio how to make a jump shot.

That said, there’s a lot to be optimistic about. Rick Adelman will be back. The Wolves lost a wing, but added a pretty good one to replace him. Two or three actually, depending on how Shabazz Muhammad plays out. Most important, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and others whose major, or niggling, injuries derailed the Wolves’ 2012-13 season are all reportedly healthy for 2013-14.

So now you’re looking at a rotation that might be something like this:

PG: Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Alexey Shved

SG: Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammad, Alexey Shved

SF: Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer, Shabazz Muhammad

PF: Kevin Love, Dante Cunningham, Derrick Williams (!)

C: Nikola Pekovic, Gorgui Dieng, Chris Johnson

Our team should be pretty good.

That’s a nice segue into today’s edition of Punch-Drunk Wolves’ INBOX feature.

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Assessing Shabazz Muhammad’s Summer League Performance

Shabazz Muhammad's Vegas Summer League results were mixed

Shabazz Muhammad’s Vegas Summer League results were mixed

From ESPN TrueHoop’s assessment of the Las Vegas Summer League’s top rookies, here’s Justin Verrier’s take on Shabazz Muhammad:

Shabazz Muhammad, Timberwolves
8.5 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.8 APG, 41 FG%, 38 3P%

lastname

Muhammad

The good: The fit is there. Muhammad has the build of your everyday athletic, break-you-off-dribble wing scorer, but he thrived at UCLA mostly in situations where he didn’t have to dribble — off the catch, running the break, posting up. And on a team like the Timberwolves, with a scorer/rebounder and ball handler as its two cornerstones, it’s those “other” areas where Muhammad will need to do his work.

Despite the lure always present at summer league to isolate everything, Muhammad primarily stuck to that script, floating around the arc and running off screens, and looked right doing so. His rebound numbers in Vegas were ho-hum, but he can be a great wing rebounder with his size, if he puts in the effort. He also shot 41.1 percent from 3, better than his college average (38 percent).

The bad: The production was not there. The 20-year-old (we hope) Muhammad averaged just 8.5 points on 41 percent shooting. Which isn’t awful. But when a player who lives off offense can’t produce, particularly against inferior competition, the deficiencies in the rest of his game become more noticeable. And in Muhammad’s case that’s his ambivalence toward passing (five total assists) and mediocre defense despite the tools to be pretty good.

Bottom line: Muhammad has a lot to work with, and you’re inclined to dismiss some of the disappointment to playing a defined and limited role, but it’s hard to write all that off after a drama-filled freshman season. That age stuff doesn’t matter anymore, but can he be happy with an even smaller role in snowy Minnesota than the one he griped about in Los Angeles?

– Justin Verrier

***

It’s hard to argue with Verrier’s take. We know the following:

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Kevin Martin, Rick Adelman, Flip Saunders, and a Disjointed Pack of Wolves

Slim Shady Kevin Martin is the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Insane news about Kevin Martin. He’s a Wolf. 4 years, 28 million. Wow.*

What does the Martin deal mean for the Wolves? A bunch of things.

First, management issues.

  • Slick Rick: It looks like we can’t write off Rick Adelman after all as a player in the Wolves front office. First Chase is re-signed (more obvious), and now Martin is acquired (less obvious). Adelman clearly shaped these moves, which will have implications that are likely to outlast Rick’s tenure in Minnesota.
  • C2: It appears that we now have an AdelFlip in the stead of our AdelKahn. But the chain-of-command  and command and control structures in the organization seem less clear than in Kahn’s last season in ‘Sota. Does anyone else smell an impending deathmatch?
 Second, on Martin specifically: as with most of the least-worst choice deals you make in life, there’s both some good and some bad here.

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Alexey Shved: Happy in Minneapolis, Plus OJ Mayo and Anthony Bennett

alexeyshved

Alexey loves the land of 10,000 (frozen) lakes. It’s like Moscow.

Alexey Shved: Minneapolis is Moscow and Moscow is Minneapolis and I like Moscow so therefore I like Minneapolis

Andy G: Amid all of the pre-draft Playoffs craze, we haven’t devoted nearly enough (any?) attention to our favorite Timberwolf, Alexey Shved.

For some background, in case anyone forgot, here is the best visual representation of how Shved met “The Rookie Wall”:

It was tough to watch, both as a fan of Shved the player, and the Timberwolves team. His off-season will be as important to the team as anything it does in the draft or free agency. The team needs help at shooting guard in a bad way, and Alexey has had/might continue to have the opportunity to make the job his. He just needs to get [a lot] stronger and more consistent with his jump shot.

He gave an interview in Russia recently, which was partially interpreted in a Canis Hoopus thread by commenter RussianBeesnyestEenterest.com (I love that moniker, btw.) Shved had this to say about his rookie season, and hitting the rookie wall:

“I was not able to sustain that level of play for the season – mainly because it was very tiring. Other players also warned me that could happen to me. Avoiding these slumps was not possible though. Playing 82 games in five and a half months – that’s quite a prize (ironic). It is, for example, possible to have 5 games in just 7 days! And if the coaching staff gives you 25 to 30 minutes of playing time it is very hard to give them good basketball until the end of such a stretch. At the end of the day I had very pleasing games and very unpleasing ones. It gave me experience. And for next season, I will know what to expect right from the start. Of course I will work to ensure that I will play much more consistently.”

Importantly, he goes on to say that he’s returning to Minnesota on June 25 to work individually with the team on his off-season program.

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Timberwolves Season in Review, Part 1: A Retrospective

Bayno-Sikma 2012

[This is Part 1 of a season review series. This post looks back in time at the season that was. A subsequent post (or two!) will use what we learned this season to take a prospective look ahead at what the Timberwolves should look like in 2013-14 and beyond.]

1. Season Highlight?

Andy G: Win over the Thunder, December 20, 2012

I’ll kick this thing off. The highlight moment of the season is an easy choice for me: the win over OKC on Thursday Night TNT. It was December 20th, Christmas time. Spirits were high with the Wolves moving to 2 games over .500 (the last point in the season in which this was the case) with a 13-11 record. All of Alexey Shved (the lead guard for the Rubio-less portion of the season), Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were dominant. Pek was pick-and-rolling bigger and stronger than the top team in the West could handle. Love spread the floor with three-point bombs, scoring 28 points along with 11 boards and 7 assists (career high?). He was awesome and looked the part of an MVP candidate. And young Alexey Shved was the orchestrator of everything. Pre-ROOKIE WALL Shved was something to behold and legit reason for Timberwolves optimism. His skillset was on display in that win over Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Shved had a whopping 12 assists that night. Oh yeah, and JJ was GREAT JJ. He killed it during #WinningTime. All in all, that was a major highlight at a point in the season when the team had statewide interest and expectations of a playoff run.

Patrick J: Concur. OKC, December 20th, or “The Proof of Kahncept Game”

The Wolves’ victory over OKC was one the few games this season at Target Center I got to attend–I was back in Minnesota visiting family and had good tickets with Andy G & co to see what I expected to be an overmatched but spiteful Wolves squad take on the best team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Good JJ came out in full force that night — the goodest JJ that JJ can be. The rest of the team synced that night, the Wolves snapped a long OKC winning streak. Shved was Olympics Shved, Love owned, and it was basically the team we expected to see in 2012-13, minus Rubio. Imagine the potential of that team plus Rubio. I often do, and it’s a pretty amazing highlight given the way things actually turned out.

2. Season Lowlight?

Patrick J: The K-Love/Woj interview immediately prior to Rubio return.

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What Did the Glen Taylor Interview Really Tell Timberwolves Fans?

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor did a long interview with Ray Richardson that appeared in the Pioneer Press on Sunday. There’s a lot there, and it’s worth reading in full: Taylor talks about the status of Rick Adelman and David Kahn for next season, as well as how the Brandon Roy debacle has played out.

Yet much of the interview is cryptic, leaving one  to read between the lines for meaningful subtext. My takes are below the fold.

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The Implications Of Picking Up David Kahn’s Option

David Kahn: Back in the saddle for at least one more season

David Kahn: Back in the saddle for at least one more season

Ric Bucher reports the Wolves are set to extend David Kahn as POBO for at least one more season. And no, Flip Saunders didn’t turn down the Gophers coaching gig because he’s already secretly agreed to replace Kahn at 600 1st Ave:

Latest on Flip Saunders and Minnesota Timberwolves: source says David Kahn’s position as GM is secure and that the one-year option on his contract, if it has not been exercised already by the TWolves, will be shortly.

via Ric Bucher’s post on Basketball | Latest updates on Sulia.

What does this mean? More below the fold.

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INBOX: Kahn, Adelman, and 600 1st Avenue North

Andy G: New topic and one that seems to get discussed less and less often: David Kahn.  You reminded me the other day about the time he gave Kurt Rambis a homework assignment. (!!!) We’ve come a long way from the days when Kahn wielded such authority over his coach.  To everyone’s benefit, Kahn was later able to hire Rick Adelman; an acquisition that naturally shifted the channels of authority over at 600 1st Ave. N.  But the degree to which Kahn seems less relevant is significant and poses some questions for the future of the franchise.  He still holds the prominent title of P.O.B.O., which should amount to the team’s acting agent in matters such as trade discussion and free agent negotiations.  We’ve got a recently drafted #2 pick that should be aggressively shopped and a star center up for restricted free agency.  It’s important that the Timberwolves have a clear chain of authority on these matters, both within the ORG and to be transparent to callers from the other 29 teams.

Why is this important?  Well, James Harden was dealt to Houston in a swift and covert manner that involved Sam Presti making phone calls that he certainly needed a high degree of trust would be: a) fruitful in terms of possibly ending in a big trade; and b) confidential.  I doubt the Wolves had the juice to get The Beard without dishing out Love or Rubio, but we’ll never know because (by all accounts, which includes a Bill Simmons report that Presti first called Golden State and Washington, before Houston) Presti never approached the Wolves.  Opportunities could potentially be lost, is what I’m saying.

1) Do you agree that it is important for the Wolves’ authority chain to be clearly defined and transparent to the league?

2) How much — for comedy’s sake — would you enjoy reading about Rick Adelman being assigned homework from Kahn?

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Clippers 96, WOLVES 90 – 5 Things

Not my favorite backcourt tandem.

1 – Johnson & Gelabale

Nobody quite knew what to expect from the 10 Day Wonders now that Rick Adelman was back with the team.  He hadn’t coached them, as each guy joined the team after Adelman’s departure.  Tonight, with Nikola Pekovic also returning to the lineup, there was no time for Chris Johnson.  Pek was revealing his new bear tattoo (I haven’t seen it yet, I’m just trusting @steventurous on this one) and earned all of his 37 minutes of action.  He put up a 17 & 12 line.  Greg Stiemsma played the other 11 center minutes.  Eventful ones.  He took a flagrant-two cheapshot from Matt Barnes, prompting an ejection.  A moment later, he knocked over one Clipper (flagrant-one) and was shoved in the back by Caron Butler.  Technical foul.  Stiemer was mixing it up and played okay.  In any case, no Chris Johnson tonight.  In some ways, he was missed.  The Clips have a ridiculously athletic front court pairing in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and crucial rebounds were lost; often times the “high in the air” variety.

Mickael Gelabale played a solid 16 minutes of action — solid defensively.  He shot a forgettable 0 for 2 from the floor, but was noticeably disruptive on defense.  He had 3 steals.  I suspect his minutes will stay as long as Budinger is out.  The Wolves wing defense is suspect and Gelabale is quite obviously a solid defensive player who frustrates the basic things like a post entry pass.  He was a +4 in tonight’s game.

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INBOX: A New “Pek”-ing Order? (A Wolves-Clips Preview of Sorts)

Artwork brought to you by Holly Grimsrud (http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

Artwork brought to you by Holly Grimsrud (http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com)

Andy G: Wolves host Clips tonight. CP3 isn’t playing. He has a bruised kneecap. The Clippers have lost 3 of their last 4 games played without their MVP. On our side of things, disaster relief is on the way. Nik Pekovic is back. Alexey Shved is back. And most importantly, Coach Rick Adelman is back. The Wolves should be able to trot out some semblance of a starting NBA lineup tonight, perhaps the only eye sore being Luke Ridnour at the starting off-guard, should Adelman choose to move Shved to 6th Man. Personally, I’d just as soon start GELABALE next to a creator like Ricky, but there’s no chance of that happening so I’ll stop right there. In any case, the way I see it the equation goes something like:

Adelman + Pek + Shved – CP3 = Automatic Wolves Win

Tell me why I’m wrong.

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Drazen Petrovic: The one time Rick Adelman got it wrong

This coming June marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the biggest tragedies in NBA history.  On June 7, 1993 a Volkswagon was speeding along Germany’s Autobahn when it encountered a truck that had crashed through the guard rails and was blocking traffic.  Unable to stop or avoid a crash, the car hit the truck, causing serious injuries to the driver and backseat passenger.  The front-seat passenger got the worst of it, flying through the front window.  Drazen Petrovic, the six-time European Player of the Year, recently named All-NBA Third Team performer, and undoubtedly greatest basketball player in Croatian history, was dead at age 28.

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