TORONTO -- Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman's game is as pretty as it is potent when he has the proper pieces. His corner offense is all about ball movement and player movement. It requires reading, reacting and unselfishness from all five players on the court. For high-IQ players, it's intuitive and just plain fun.
It's the main reason Kevin Martin is now in Minnesota.
Martin, who joined the Timberwolves this past summer, saw Minnesota as a potential free agent destination since the day Adelman took the job in 2011. He'd started his career under Adelman almost anonymously with the Sacramento Kings in 2004, a 21-year-old.
"[Adelman] is just a coach that makes his young players work," Martin said. "It wasn't always easy for me from the start. You gotta put in the time with him and build the respect. It'll pay off."
An injury to Bonzi Wells gave Martin an opportunity as a sophomore, and he ran with it. By the time he reunited with Adelman as a Houston Rocket in his sixth season, Martin had established himself as one of the game's deadliest weapons on the wing. He could consistently score 24 points on 15 shots.
"He hadn't really figured out how to play or how he was gonna play [at first]," Adelman said. "After about two or three years, he figured out what he had to do. Always a very skilled player, but it's like any young player, he had to get the experience and figure it out."
From the Kings to the Rockets to one year as a super sub in Oklahoma City, you always know what you're getting with Martin. He scores his points on a steady diet of threes, free throws and shots at the rim.
The Timberwolves, meanwhile, have been trying to sort out their shooting guard position for the better part of a decade. Since the departure of Wally Szczerbiak in 2006, their fans have watched a new starting two guard trot out on opening night every year. The names: Ricky Davis, Rashad McCants, Mike Miller, Damien Wilkins, Wayne Ellington, Wesley Johnson and Brandon Roy.
This season, it will be Martin. Possessing a four-year contract and all of his coach's confidence, this time it should be different. This time it should stick.
Superstar forward Kevin Love is excited to have Martin around. During their first preseason game together on Monday, Love received a pass from point guard Ricky Rubio at the high post. A split second later, a perfectly placed no-look bounce pass headed Martin's way for a layup. In Adelman's offense, it was the kind of pass Martin used to catch from Brad Miller, the kind Vlade Divac and Chris Webber threw to Peja Stojakovic and Doug Christie. It was as if they'd played together forever.
The saying goes that every team eventually takes on the identity of its coach. Barring a repeat of last year's lousy luck in Minnesota, this should happen in 2013-14. After Adelman's first year with the Timberwolves, he urged management to reshape the roster in the summer of 2012, only to see the next season squandered by a never-ending procession of injuries and one of the worst three-point shooting marks in league history. Adding Martin's marksmanship and some semblance of health means the offense can finally function and flow like Adelman wants it to. Martin won't be asked to be the star. He'll just put points on the board and make the game come easier for everybody else.
"I knew what he could do and he knows what we're trying to do," Adelman said.