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Adelman would have interest in Blazer GM job

Ex-coach hasn't been contacted, 'But I'd love to talk to them'
by: BILL BAPTIST Rick Adelman, former Trail Blazers coach recently released as coach of the Houston Rockets, says he's thinking about possible front-office work in the future.

He isn't campaigning for the job. With his credentials through a stellar coaching career, he doesn't have to.

But asked if he would be interested in the vacant Trail Blazers general manager position, Rick Adelman doesn't hesitate.

'I'd love to talk to them,' says Adelman, fired in April after four seasons as head coach of the Houston Rockets. 'I'd be interested in talking to them about any position.'

Adelman pauses, then amends his comments.

'I have no interest in the head coaching job,' he says. 'I need to make that clear. They have a really good coach (Nate McMillan). Nate has done a great job.'

Adelman, who turns 65 on June 16, says he has not been contacted by the Blazers. He says he does not know team president Larry Miller. He has not spoken with owner Paul Allen for several years, but feels their relationship is good, even after Adelman's unceremonious firing following the 1993-94 season.

An original Blazer who played three of his seven NBA seasons in Portland, Adelman served as an assistant on the coaching staffs of Jack Ramsay and Mike Schuler. He took over in 1988 and was the team's head coach for 5 1/2 seasons, leading the Blazers to the NBA finals in 1990 and '92.

Now Adelman has been a head coach in the NBA for 19 years. The travel has worn on him. The idea of working in some sort of front-office capacity in his hometown appeals to him. He and wife Mary Kay have made their offseason home in Dunthorpe for six years, and four of their six children live here.

'I would be more than happy to work with them,' he says. 'I'm looking to do something different, with not quite the stress the coaching aspect has. I have an affinity for Portland. Any way I could be involved, I would.'

Last week, Adelman interviewed with the Los Angeles Lakers as a potential replacement for head coach Phil Jackson. Adelman, Mike Dunleavy and Brian Shaw were passed over for Mike Brown.

Owner Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak were among the Laker management team that met with Adelman.

'The Lakers thing was very interesting,' he says. 'They called me immediately; you have to listen. I was impressed with them. They had a really good feel for everything.

'They have a ready-made team, one of the best teams in the league. A lot of things go with that - following Phil, the whole scene there. We had a good discussion, but I hadn't decided what I was going to do. If (an offer) had come my way, I'd have had a decision to make.

But they made a good choice. Mike has been through the pressure thing with LeBron' James.

Last week, Indiana general manager Larry Bird told the media he intends to contact Adelman about the Pacers' vacant coaching job. Adelman, who interviewed with Indiana four years ago before he was hired by the Rockets, says he hasn't heard from Bird.

'I'm not sure if I'd be interested,' he says. 'I have a feeling Larry is going to take his time (hiring a coach). If someone calls, I'll look at the situation, but I don't know if I want to do the coaching thing again.'

Adelman warrants consideration for any open coaching job. With a 945-616 regular-season win-loss record, he ranks ninth on the career coaching list behind Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, George Karl and Bill Fitch. The only coaches ahead of him on the list with a better win percentage (.605) are Riley and Jackson.

With a 79-78 playoff record, Adelman ranks ninth on the career coaching win list - two behind K.C. Jones, one back of Wilkens.

In 17 of his 19 full seasons - while coaching Portland, Sacramento and Houston - Adelman has had winning records. The only blemishes are his two seasons with Golden State after leaving the Blazers in 1994.

Over the last two seasons, Adelman lost both of his stars in Houston - Yao Ming to a foot injury, Tracy McGrady via trade. This season, the Rockets were small and young, with eight players in no more than their third NBA season.

At midseason, they made two trades, sending starting forward Shane Battier to Memphis for little-used center Hasheem Thabeet and a future first-round draft pick, then swapping point guard Aaron Brooks to Phoenix for guard Goran Dragic and a future first-round pick. The Rockets managed to go 43-39 but finished in ninth place in the Western Conference, three games back of seventh-place New Orleans and Memphis.

'We had a good season,' Adelman says. 'Our guys played hard. After the trade deadline, we regrouped and finished the season pretty strong. It was an enjoyable team to coach.'

Adelman says he met with Rockets ownership and management after the season.

'The way the talks went, I think I could have come back for a couple of years,' he says. 'But they wanted to change a lot of things, including my staff. I didn't see any reason for it. I couldn't go back on the terms they wanted.'

Since the season ended, Adelman has been back and forth between Portland and Houston. He is in the process of putting his Houston house on the market. He is looking forward to some time at his cabin in Black Butte. Two of the Adelman offspring - David and Caitlin - have summer weddings planned.

If an ideal coaching situation arises, he'll listen. If the Blazers have interest in him for their GM post, he'll be glad to interview.

'It's something I haven't done, but I think I know the league pretty well,' he says. 'I've worked for a number of GMs. I've always wanted to do something like that, but I've had pretty good success coaching.

'I would be very interested in trying something different, but I don't know what Paul is looking for. It's kind of pie-in-the-sky at this point.'