Wolves coach Rick Adelman expects 'big difference' with new veterans
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- One day before the newest new-look Minnesota Timberwolves open training camp, coach Rick Adelman expressed optimism the offseason moves have the team better equipped than a year ago to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Speaking at the team's annual media day on Monday, Adelman delivered a simple message about the decisions to replace the likes of Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson with veterans Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko:
The Wolves really had no choice but to overhaul the roster full of young players after their season was derailed by injuries -- and they let the adversity get the best of them.
"It was pretty obvious that we didn't have the guys to step up when you have injuries like that," Adelman said. "We were very inconsistent. Our whole game fell off."
Adelman made it no secret last season that he was unhappy with the team's effort, questioning the motivation of the younger players while they limped to the barn with a 5-20 finish.
"The last 20 games," he said, "were awful."
Adelman pointed specifically to Ricky Rubio's season-ending injury as a turning point but said the team will be better prepared to handle his absence to start this season.
"When you have veterans, when you look at Brandon (Roy), Andrei (Kirilenko), guys who have been in the league for a while, they know how to play," Adelman said. "That's a big difference."
The two biggest pieces added by the Wolves are unquestionably Roy and Kirilenko, but each also came with question mark.
Roy is coming out of retirement because of a knee injury and Kirilenko played last season in Russia.
That didn't stop Adelman from gushing about both of them.
"There's no doubt" that Roy can still play, Adelman said. "When a guy has an injury like that, the whole thing is wondering where his health is going to be. He really hasn't had any setbacks at all and he's been playing here since September."
The sweeping changes made to the roster over the summer -- moves that appeared to have Adelman's fingerprints all over them -- have added ball-handlers and defensive help and upped the passing game.
But it is the change in attitude that star forward Kevin Love keyed in on as one of the most significant changes.
"I think we have guys now that it really is going to hurt (if team loses)," Love said. "I'm not saying our locker room was divided that season, but for some guys, they had a date circled on their calendar. It wasn't the one that said, 'This is going to be our first day of the playoffs.' It was, 'Oh, this is the day I get to go home.'
"I think we really we have a team that can really change the landscape, guys that at the end of the day just really want to win."
Adelman also said an added benefit heading into this season will be a full training camp.
In last season's 66-game lockout shortened season, Adelman only had a few days with the team before opening up the preseason and said he was able to install "very little."
Adelman expects to the offense to be more diverse and less reliant on the pick-and-roll that served as a security blanket for a young team last year that didn't have many ball handlers outside of the point guards.
The Wolves will travel for the first week of training camp to Mankato, where they will be practicing once a day rather than the traditional two-a-days -- a change welcomed by the players.
Both Adelman and Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn believe the roster they will be taking to Mankato will be final with no other moves in cap off what was a busy offseason.
"I think it's set for right now. I don't know what else we could do," Adelman said.
• The Wolves open training camp relatively healthy, with only backup center Greg Stiemsma nursing an injury. Kahn said plantar fasciitis will have him limited during 5-on-5 action.
• Adelman said he will be holding Roy out of the back end of the Oct. 12 and 13 preseason back-to-back as a precaution. He'll use that time to get a look at Alexy Shved and Chase Budinger at shooting guard.