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Updated: September 30th, 2013 4:20pm
After difficult decision, Rick Adelman back for Year 3 with Wolves

After difficult decision, Rick Adelman back for Year 3 with Wolves

by Nate Sandell
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The decision wasn't an easy one, but Rick Adelman is back with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

As his wife, Mary Kay, battled an ongoing health scare, the now 23-year NBA head coach gave serious thought to the difficult idea of retirement.

But after months of sorting through the uncertainty, Adelman felt he was finally comfortable enough to signal his return for what will be his third year at the helm of the Wolves.

"It really took quite a long time," Adelman said Tuesday, making his first appearance of the season at the Wolves' annual media day on the eve of the start of training camp.

"I just wanted to be sure, because it was just the unknown. But the whole time I was pretty intent about going about it anticipating being back and doing the things that are necessary to be ready for that."

It was not a simple call to make. Adelman has stood alongside his wife through stints in the hospital, doctor visits and medication changes, trying to find some solution to her bout with a seizure disorder.

Given the time needed to make his choice by Wolves owner Glen Taylor and president of of basketball operations Flip Saunders, Adelman battled with the decision throughout the summer. The desire to return, to continue the daunting rebuild of a team he took over two years prior remained in the back of his mind. But he had to be sure it would be the right call for his family.

Finally, with his wife's condition having stabilized into a relative state of normalcy, Adelman gave Taylor and Saunders the reassurance they had waited for.

It was the news his players wanted to hear. With Adelman back, the relief and comfort level spawned from having him once again at the forefront of a squad seemingly on the cusp of ending an 11-year playoffs absence, was readily apparent as players shuffled through to speak to reporters on Monday.

For key free agent signing Kevin Martin, reuniting with Adelman was a coveted reason for making the move to Minnesota.

Martin was a raw rookie shooting guard out of Western Carolina, a first round selection by Sacramento in the 2004 NBA Draft, when he first met Adelman. In the next two years, Adelman helped guided Martin through the transition into being an everyday NBA player. When Adelman moved on to Houston in 2007 after Sacramento did not renew his contract, Martin followed him to Texas via trade three years later.

But within a year, Adelman and Houston parted ways, leaving Martin already starting to think about when the opportunity for another reunion would arise.

"After I realized he wasn't coming back to Houston, I was just waiting to see where he was going to land next," Martin said. "He's been such an inspiration in my career, where I'm at today. Two years ago, I thought this was going to be on the top of my list when I was a free agent."

Martin is part of the Wolves' strengthening nucleus, bookmarked by Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and newly re-signed center Nikola Pekovic, that have brought on a new wave of increased expectations of the team's potential in the year ahead.

Adelman has a firm sense of that potential. After weathering a season that was not only filled with personal struggles, but also the torment of watching his injury-ravaged team tumble to a discouraging 31-51 record, Adelman is ready for the task of matching lofty expectations to actual results.

"Last year, I thought we were on that direction until everything happened to the team," Adelman said. "Everything just went backwards when we thought we were moving in the right direction."

"But I think we've added some pieces this year and I'm looking forward to us making some strides ... I think we have the potential to be so much better offensively."

Nate Sandell is a contributor to
Email Nate | @nsandell