With Rick Adelman retiring, what's next for the Timberwolves?
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Rick Adelman has called it a career after 23 years as an NBA head coach.
Adelman, who just wrapped up his third season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, announced Monday he is stepping away from his coaching responsibilities.
The move, which had been widely speculated for the past several weeks, opens an intriguing chapter for the Wolves. This a major a decision for Flip Saunders, who is set to lead his first coaching search since he took over as the Wolves' president of basketball operations last year.
Saunders was careful not to put any constraints on his search plans when he addressed the media Monday at the Target Center. He refrained from giving a timetable of when he would like to have a new coach in place. He left it so wide open that when asked if he expects to make the hire before the June 26 draft, Saunders remarked, "Not necessarily."
So, what is Saunders looking for in a new coach? For one, he wants to build off the offensive foundation that Adelman created.
"We don't want to lose that offensive identity," Saunders said. "You want a coach who is demanding. You want a coach who is adaptable, who has flexibility."
Saunders delivered the typical coaching search promises, assuring it would be extensive and wide reaching. He said he plans to sit down again with owner Glen Taylor and general manager Milt Newton to develop a list of strong candidates.
The speculation has already begun. As Saunders tiptoed around giving specific criteria, he wouldn't say if he plans to specifically target only coaches with NBA experience or if the search could expand into the college ranks. Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg and Michigan State's Tom Izzo been floated by media and fans alike as potential candidates. Both are close friends with Saunders.
"I don't think there is an exact formula to what you're looking for," Saunders said. "We are geared more toward bringing in someone who has a track record, who has had success."
Until Saunders and the Wolves come to a final decision, there is one candidate that is sure to be routinely brought up in any public speculation or discussion about the job: Saunders himself.
Since the day he returned to Minnesota last May, Saunders has never explicitly ruled out the possibility of being a head coach again -- a role he has 16 years of experience in, including 10 with the Wolves. As one would expect, he was asked the question Monday, and once again he avoided giving a direct answer.
"I'm not going to answer that. Rick said that 'you never know," Saunders said, referencing Adelman's reply to questions if he personally could see himself ever coaching again. "Ideally, right now we're going to do a search. The search isn't just coming to talk with me."
Taylor has previously said no to the idea when it has been brought up in interviews, but there is always the chance that stance could change as the Wolves' search commences.
Regardless of who the next coach is, the Wolves are headed into a new era for the franchise, an era that Saunders and Co. are hoping will see Minnesota back in the playoffs.