The Hall of Fame coaching career of Rick Adelman will likely come to an end Wednesday night. Adelman is expected to hang up his clipboard after 25 years (and 1,042 wins) as an NBA coach. Per the Star Tribune:
He could quite simply — given his silence about the matter in this season’s final weeks — just walk off into the mist.
“You know what? That’s him,” said Timberwolves guard Kevin Martin, who has played for Adelman in Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota. “That’s how he has always been. It has worked for him. That’s probably how he would want it.”
A family man who often says little unless he is giving an honest answer to a question, Adelman clearly has been careful not to address his future in these days and weeks leading to Wednesday’s regular-season finale against Utah at Target Center.
“You’re right,” Adelman said before Monday night’s 130-120 loss at Golden State. “One more day.”
Adelman is 67 and he is completing the third of three playoff-less seasons with the Wolves during which his wife, Mary Kay, has been treated for seizures. One season remains on the four-year contract Adelman signed in September 2011, but either he or the Wolves can choose to end it within a two-week window after Wednesday’s game.
“It’s a tossup right now,” Wolves star Kevin Love said when asked about Adelman’s future, “and everybody is feeling this could be it for him.”
Sacramento coach Mike Malone, the son of former NBA coach Brendan Malone, approached Adelman after Sunday’s game for an exchange that went beyond the usual postgame nod of congratulations.
“I think Rick’s respected to the point where Coach Malone went up to him and said his words to him at the end of the game,” Martin said. “He’s respected like that around the league and the front offices. He’s just a low-key guy. If you know basketball, you know what he has done and he’s OK with that.”
A point guard who played for five different teams in seven NBA seasons, Adelman figured he would teach and coach high school basketball the rest of his life after the Kansas City-Omaha Kings cut him in 1975. His first coaching job at little Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., attracted the attention of Trail Blazers legendary coach Jack Ramsay, who hired him over another candidate named George Karl for an assistant coaching job in 1983.
All these years later, Adelman and Karl are two of only eight men in NBA history who have won 1,000 games as a head coach. Coincidentally, Karl could be a candidate to replace Adelman as the Wolves’ next head coach.
Six years after he beat out Karl for that assistant’s job, Adelman was promoted to head coach in midseason and inherited a team that included Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and soon added Buck Williams. Adelman took the Trail Blazers to two NBA Finals in the next three seasons.
Over 23 seasons, he has coached 1,790 games in Portland, Golden State, Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota, winning 58 percent of them.
“There doesn’t have to be,” Adelman said of a personal exit lacking the usual fanfare and tributes. “It’s something I’ve told you before: I asked these guys when we were pretty much out of the playoffs to finish off the season. We won some really nice games. You have to approach it that way. When the season’s over, then everything happens from that point on.”
And if he does just walk off into the mist, then so be it?
“So be it,” Adelman said. “I think so.”