The Minnesota Timberwolves met with former Houston Rockets coach Rick Adelman in Minneapolis on Tuesday to discuss their head-coaching opening, a league source said.
Adelman, who parted with the Rockets when his contract expired June 30, is the seventh candidate to interview for the job since the Timberwolves fired Kurt Rambis on July 12 with a year left on his contract. Rambis was given the chance to remain with the team in a front-office capacity, but he declined, several sources said.
This is not the first contact between Adelman and the Timberwolves about the job, but his decision to meet with general manager David Kahn is an indication of his strong interest.
Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Adelman met with Kahn and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, but left town without a deal.
The two people spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly on the search.
Other veteran coaches who have pursued the opening and interviewed are former Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson, a three-time NBA coach of the year with a league-record 1,335 wins, and Larry Brown, who is not far behind with 1,275 wins, including the 2004 championship with the Detroit Pistons.
The Timberwolves have also interviewed Terry Porter, Mike Woodson and Bernie Bickerstaff for the job, but Adelman has been one of their top targets.
The Timberwolves finished a league-worst 17-65 last season, but they have substantial young talent, including first-time All-Star Kevin Love, former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley and this year’s No. 2 pick, Derrick Williams.
All of the players, except for 30-year-old point guard Luke Ridnour, are between 20 and 26 years old.
Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio, the fifth pick in 2009, also announced he will make his long-awaited debut with the Timberwolves whenever the league ends its current labor lockout.
Three weeks ago, Adelman told reporters at a charity golf tournament he headlines near his offseason home in Portland, Ore., that he was planning to sit out this season, assuming there is one.
Adelman, 65, is 945-616 in 20 seasons as a head coach of the Trail Blazers, Kings, Warriors and Rockets, and has failed to make the playoffs only four times, including his last two years with the Rockets. He is believed to be a front-runner for the job because of a connection and familiarity with Love, who grew up and played high school basketball in Portland.
Kahn, who could not be reached for comment, also has an offseason home in Portland. The Timberwolves are not expected to interview any more candidates.
Ric Bucher is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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