Timberwolves Notes: Rosas, Saunders, Layden

With the Timberwolves set to hire Gersson Rosas as their new president of basketball operations, the next issue to address will be determining who will coach the team next season.

Patrick Reusse of The Star Tribune contends that Ryan Saunders didn’t show enough during his stretch as the Wolves’ interim head coach to lock him into the job going forward, arguing that Saunders should instead be offered the head coaching position for Minnesota’s G League affiliate in Des Moines. That would give him the opportunity to show his potential to lead an NBA team, while allowing Rosas to hand-pick his own coach to lead the Timberwolves.

However, that doesn’t appear to be a likely scenario at this point. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes that Rosas has a “long-standing connection” with Saunders, and while nothing has been finalized in regard to his future, Saunders is widely expected to be named the Wolves’ permanent head coach. Virtually all of Minnesota’s players – including star Karl-Anthony Towns – would be on board with that move, per Krawczynski.

As we wait to see what happens with Saunders, here are a few more notes out of Minnesota:

  • The Wolves’ initial plan after interviewing four candidates for their president of basketball operations vacancy had been to trim the field to two finalists before making a decision, according to Krawczynski. However, Rosas stood out to such a degree that the team ultimately decided to simply go with him.
  • Minnesota liked Rosas’ polished presentation and the success he had in Houston, and believes he’s someone who is capable of uniting all levels of the organization, sources tell Krawczynski. Rosas also received some strong recommendations during the vetting process, including a glowing review from former Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale, who worked with the veteran exec in Houston.
  • Rosas briefly left the Rockets in 2013 to become the Mavericks’ GM, but returned to Houston after just three months when both sides decided the fit wasn’t right. According to Krawczynski, Rosas didn’t have the level of control he expected in Dallas, with Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban still calling the shots. That shouldn’t be an issue in Minnesota, where he’ll be unquestionably be running the show.
  • It’s not clear yet whether GM Scott Layden will be retained, per Krawczynski. Layden still has two years and $4MM left on his contract and has a reputation for being team-oriented, so Krawczynski believes he may stick with the Wolves in some capacity.
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