Dogged pursuit pays off for Kahn

On Sports
by: L.E. BASKOW Former Houston head coach Rick Adelman has been named the new coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Touching on a few sports subjects as we work toward another busy weekend …

• Quite a coup for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and General Manager David Kahn, to land Rick Adelman as their new coach.

After being fired by Houston, Adelman was at home in Portland, looking toward what he expected to be a year of solitude before considering whether to coach again.

Then Kahn - who covered the NBA for The Oregonian during a portion of the time when Adelman coached the Trail Blazers - began dogged pursuit of the man who ranks eighth on the league's career-win list and, in my mind, is one of the more underrated coaches in pro basketball history.

At first, coaching the woebegone Timberwolves didn't appeal to Adelman. Somehow, Kahn - and the chance to take a team from ground zero to something much better - won the coach over.

I'm sure another nice contract - Adelman will get $15 million for three years, with a fourth year at the option of both the coach and the team - didn't hurt.

But Adelman wouldn't take the job unless he thought he could win there. There are some nice young pieces, including Lake Oswego's Kevin Love, who played with Rick's youngest son, Patrick, with the (LO) Lakers.

Adelman will get the most out of troubled forward Michael Beasley, just as he has done throughout his career with difficult personalities, including Latrell Sprewell, Rod Strickland, Chris Webber and even Clyde Drexler.

Adrian Wojnarowski of wrote this week that Adelman was reluctant to take the Minnesota job because of his disdain for Kahn. Really, the two had little of a previous relationship, and in the end, it played no part in Adelman's decision. He will have major control of personnel decisions with the Wolves, and at this point in his career, Adelman deserves it.

• The roster the Portland Winterhawks have thrown out in the preseason will bear little resemblance to the one the Western Hockey League club will field when the season gets into full swing next month.

The Hawks have 15 players - more than half their regular-season roster - attending NHL training camps, more than any WHL club, and probably more than any team in major junior hockey.

A dozen of those NHL hopefuls will likely wind up in a Portland uniform, including three - forward Riley Boychuk and defensemen Taylor Aronson and William Wrenn - who should return as 20-year-old overage players.

Forwards Nino Niederreiter and Oliver Gabriel and defenseman Brett Ponich are probably gone - Niederreiter to the New York Islanders, Gabriel to the minor leagues in the Columbus farm system and Ponich to St. Louis. Forward Ryan Johansen, also with Columbus, could stick with the Blue Jackets, but he might wind up back with Portland, which would be a major feather in the Hawks' cap.

The others - forwards Sven Bartschi, Taylor Peters, Ty Rattie and Brad Ross, defensemen Joe Morrow, Troy Rutkowski and Tyler Wotherspoon and goaltender Mac Carruth - seem destined to play as Winterhawks for the 2011-12 season. If it happens, a serious run at the WHL championship could be in order for the local skate crew.

• I've said all along that, until the players are willing to make serious concessions in their negotiations with the owners, we won't see movement in the bid to secure a collective-bargaining agreement in the NBA.

That time is not now, judging from reports from the recent negotiation sessions in New York.

The owners desire something much closer to a hard salary cap than the current system, which allows for many exceptions and loopholes to supercede a cap figure that was exceeded the past season by the majority of teams and put them in financial jeopardy.

The current split of basketball-related income - 57 percent to the players - must be reduced to something closer to 50/50. The players' union reportedly suggested a 54.3-percent cut in June, and that will come down as negotiations get more serious as the scheduled Oct. 3 opening of training camps nears.

It's clear that the start of the regular season will, at the least, get pushed back.

'We've told our players that they should expect, in all probability, not to start the season on time,' Players Association executive director Billy Hunter told the media Tuesday.

The owners, meanwhile, will stand firm for the time being.

'We know how to negotiate over dollars when the time comes,' Commissioner David Stern said.

When will the time come?

I'm thinking the last week of September. At least, I'm hoping so. Losing most of a preseason is one thing. Losing a big chunk of the regular season is a proposition all of us who care about the NBA can do without.