Gersson Rosas

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Deck, Wolves Sale, Jazz

The Trail Blazers are hoping to maximize the rest of 30-year-old All-Star point guard Damian Lillard‘s prime years, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

Fischer notes that team president Neil Oshley consulted with Lillard during the offseason to discuss good wing fits. Aaron Gordon, recently traded to another West contender in the Nuggets, was considered, though the team ultimately opted to trade for the cheaper Robert Covington. New addition Norman Powell may become tough to retain in restricted free agency, notes Fischer, who wonders if keeping Powell means the club may be willing to move CJ McCollum.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Work visa issues may delay the arrival of new Thunder forward Gabriel Deck to Oklahoma City, head coach Mark Daigneault has indicated, as Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman tweets.
  • Michael Rand of the Star Tribune wonders if the impending sale of the Timberwolves to ex-MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez and entrepreneur Marc Lore could put the pressure on president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas to expedite a winning culture. Minnesota has made just one playoff appearance since its Western Conference Finals berth in 2004.
  • The Jazz, current owners of the top seed in the Western Conference, are striving to balance resting their core players without losing their competitive edge, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. “When we have guys out, we are going to have to have some other guys be really aggressive, and we are going to have to run as much as we can,” head coach Quin Snyder noted. The team has been more liberal in resting players with All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell absent due to a low-ankle sprain.

Wolves Notes: Trade Deadline, Gordon, McDaniels, Collins, Power Forward

The Timberwolves allowed the trade deadline to pass without making a move, opting not to make a trade just for the sake of doing so, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said.

Minnesota was most heavily linked to forward Aaron Gordon, who was moved from Orlando to Denver on deadline day. The team has struggled with injuries and currently holds the league’s worst record at 10-34.

“You don’t make a trade for the sake of making a trade,” Rosas explained, as relayed by Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “We haven’t seen this group together enough starting with our best two players and everybody else. That played a big part in it. We want to see what we have in order to make the best-educated decisions we can make.”

As a whole, an astounding 23 teams were involved in trades on deadline day this year, though Minnesota naturally wasn’t one of them.

Here are some other notes from Minnesota today:

  • A significant hurdle in the Wolves’ talks to acquire Gordon was the availability of rookie Jaden McDaniels, Hine writes. Minnesota and Orlando held discussions for multiple weeks, but Orlando reportedly wanted McDaniels in a potential agreement. Rosas and his team ultimately balked at the idea of parting ways with the 20-year-old.
  • Don’t expect the Wolves to stop monitoring Hawks big man John Collins in the coming months, Hine contends. Collins will be a restricted free agent this summer and received interest from Minnesota until the deadline passed. The 23-year-old has averaged 18.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 30.6 minutes per game this season.
  • The power forward position remains an area of concern for the franchise, Hine relays. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the solution will come internally or externally. “The one thing we don’t want to do is plug a long-term hole with a short-term solution that’s not going to be there when we need it,” Rosas said. “So we’ll continue investing in and developing our young players to see if the answer is there. Jaden gives us a lot of excitement and a lot of optionality there, but it’s a need.”
  • A source tells Hine that the Timberwolves could have made trades involving Ed Davis and Ricky Rubio, but opted against it.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Thomas, Wolves, Jensen

The Nuggets reshaped their rotation with the additions of forward Aaron Gordon and reserve center JaVale McGeeMike Singer of the Denver Post details Denver’s thinking behind the two acquisitions.

Singer cites the interest of Denver head coach Mike Malone in adding an experienced, rim-protecting playoff veteran in the post as the motivation behind adding McGee. The Nuggets are hopeful that McGee can help add some interior toughness against his old team, the Lakers.

The addition of Gordon makes sense as a solid “tweener” forward replacement for departed small forward Jerami Grant, capable of making an impact on both ends of the floor, Singer contends. The Nuggets did their due diligence in researching Gordon’s off-court fit as well as his on-court fit. Singer also notes that, because the team moved on from Gary Harris as part of the Gordon deal, Will Barton now appears destined to become the club’s starting shooting guard for the rest of the year.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz view new acquisition Matt Thomas as a keeper beyond this season, per Tony Jones of The Athletic (via Twitter). The 6’4″ shooting guard has a non-guaranteed $1.78MM salary for the 2021/22 season, but Utah doesn’t intend to waive him in the offseason. Thomas appeared in 26 games for the Raptors this season, averaging just 7.4 MPG.
  • The front office of the lowly Timberwolves, led by team president Gersson Rosas, opted to stand pat at the trade deadline. Jon Krawczynski and Britt Robson of The Athletic report that the Wolves wanted a power forward upgrade, but struggled to find a deal they liked. Minnesota is the worst team in the West with a 10-34 record. “We could’ve acquired those high-end guys today, but it’s short term,” Rosas said. “From a long-term perspective, we’re very excited about our young guys and what the future holds for them. That’s why we weren’t as active as we potentially could’ve been.”
  • Jazz assistant coach — and Utah Utes alum — Alex Jensen has withdrawn from consideration for the head coaching gig with his alma mater, according to Christopher Kamrani and Tony Jones of The Athletic“He had great conversations with [Utah Athletic Director] Mark Harlan and knows it is a very positive situation but the timing was not right,” a source told Kamrani and Jones.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Rosas, Horford, Nuggets

While most people around the NBA expected Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas to bring in his own head coach at some point, many believed it wouldn’t happen until the offseason, when it would be easier to pursue someone an assistant on a rival team like Chris Finch, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Addressing the timing of the move, Hollinger wonders if Rosas felt some urgency to act quickly because he’s starting to feel his own seat getting hotter. Many of Rosas’ major moves since he arrived haven’t been major successes so far, including his deal for D’Angelo Russell and the decision to trade up in the 2019 draft for Jarrett Culver.

That doesn’t mean that Rosas’ job is in any danger, particularly since some of his moves – including the acquisition of Malik Beasley and the signing of Naz Reid – have worked out well. Still, his honeymoon period is probably over, so he may have felt he couldn’t afford to wait another half-season to make a head coaching change if he’d already decided to move on from Ryan Saunders.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer and Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examine what’s next for the Timberwolves after their coaching change, with Tjarks focusing on what changes Finch could consider implementing in the short term and Pincus exploring how Minnesota could upgrade its roster.
  • It will be a challenge for the Thunder to get much in a trade for Al Horford, given his pricey contract, but his play this season has boosted his value, contends Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City has struggled this season without Horford on the court, particularly defensively.
  • Though Michael Porter Jr. has struggled to find an offensive rhythm since returning from a bout with COVID-19, the Nuggets are not inclined to deal him unless they get a Bradley Beal-style difference-maker in return, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athetic. However, they might be interested in making a more modest non-Porter trade involving a defensive stalwart such as the Thunder’s Luguentz Dort or the Cavaliers’ Larry Nance Jr.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Timberwolves Notes: Towns, Saunders, Russell, Vanterpool

Amid the turmoil of a mid-season coaching change, the Timberwolves got some good news Sunday night as star center Karl-Anthony Towns indicated he foresees a long future with the organization, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Towns was asked about his intentions following a loss to the Knicks that dropped Minnesota’s record to a league-worst 7-24.

“If you want to build a legacy we got to win,” Towns said. “And I want to build my legacy here so I want to win with the Wolves, and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to keep step-by-step, brick-by-brick, building something and a culture here that’s going to stand here for a long time.”

Towns, 25, still has three more years on the extension he signed in 2018, paying him $31.65MM, $33.83MM and $36MM through the 2023/24 season. He could opt to demand a trade, as other stars have done in losing situations, but Sunday’s comments should offer some hope to the Wolves that he’s committed to turning things around in Minnesota.

There’s more on the Timberwolves:

  • Ryan Saunders knew for weeks that his job was in jeopardy, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Players had been openly speculating about a coaching change, and the only question was whether management would keep him in place through the end of the season. Owner Glen Taylor had resisted the move because Towns was out of the lineup so much this season due to injuries and a battle with COVID-19. However, Minnesota was just 1-7 since Towns returned February 10, which was enough for Taylor to endorse firing Saunders.
  • Obvious tension built up between guard D’Angelo Russell and Saunders as losses mounted, Krawczynski adds in the same story. A long-time friend of Towns, Russell was brought in at last year’s trade deadline to provide a second star for the team to build around. However, because of injuries and the hiatus, Saunders only got to coach Towns and Russell together in five games.
  • Several NBA players questioned why Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool wasn’t chosen to replace Saunders, with the loudest support for the former Trail Blazers assistant coming from Portland stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, notes Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports. “How the hell do you not hire David Vanterpool,” Lillard tweeted, “and he’s right there on the bench… and has been in front office SUCCESSFULLY and on the front of a bench of a winning team SUCCESSFULLY (7 years) … and also has played a major role in the development of a dominant backcourt smdh!” According to Krawczynski, there has been speculation throughout the league that Chris Finch has been on top of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas‘ wish list since he joined the Wolves two years ago, and Rosas was willing to endure criticism over not considering a minority candidate such as Vanterpool.

Wolves Notes: Towns, McDaniels, Nowell, Rosas

Star center Karl-Anthony Towns is with the Timberwolves on their current road trip and is a good bet to return to action at some point this week, team owner Glen Taylor told David Shama of Sports Headliners.

Towns, 25, has been limited to just four games so far this season due first to a wrist injury and then to a positive COVID-19 test. He has been in the NBA’s health and safety protocols for more than two weeks and hasn’t played since January 13.

Minnesota won its first two games of the 2020/21 season with Towns in the lineup, but has bottomed out since then, losing 15 of its last 18. Still, Taylor is hopeful that the club can make a push for a playoff spot this season, especially with a health Towns.

“I recognize that it’s going to be difficult, but on the other hand, there’s other teams that aren’t performing up to their expectations, too, and I guess we just gotta catch them,” he told Shama.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • When the Wolves selected Jaden McDaniels with the 28th pick in November’s draft, he was viewed as a long-term project who was unlikely to contribute much right away. However, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes, the rookie forward has emerged as part of Minnesota’s regular rotation and has acquitted himself well, blocking three shots on Sunday and scoring 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting on Monday.
  • Wolves guard Jaylen Nowell has also recently entered the rotation and has scored double-digit points in four straight games. The 21-year-old remains a work in progress though, according to Hine, who notes that Nowell hasn’t been able to translate his G League scoring efficiency to the NBA, where he has made just 9-of-48 career three-pointers (18.8%). Nowell is on a non-guaranteed contract.
  • Now that the Wolves are a full 82 games into Gersson Rosas‘ tenure as president of basketball operations, Britt Robson of The Athletic‘s evaluates Rosas’ performance to date. Robson likes what Rosas has done to fill out the front office and to identify low-cost, low-risk players with upside, but identifies the team’s hole at power forward and its mismatched point guard duo as problems, and says the jury is still out on both of Rosas’ lottery picks (Jarrett Culver and Anthony Edwards).

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Morris, Rosas, Clarkson

Year-to-year continuity appears to be rewarding the Jazz early on in the 2020/21 season, according to Ariel Pacheco of Basketball Insiders.

Led by All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have benefited from an improved defense and long-range marksmanship. The club ranks in the top ten in both offensive and defensive rating, Pacheco notes. Mitchell, too, appears to have developed his ball-handling abilities.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Newly-extended Nuggets guard Monte Morris has proven himself to be a steal for Denver thus far, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Morris has helped stabilize the team’s bench, posting a career high in scoring (11.5 PPG), and shooting an excellent 51.7% from the floor overall. “I’m going out there focused, playing for other guys, with a clear head,” Morris said. “The contract definitely got me at peace.”
  • Timberwolves team president Gersson Rosas expressed his frustration at the general state of the team, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This was another growing and developing year,” Rosas told Hine. “But at the same time, we’re not up to our capabilities and that’s to be competitive. … It starts with me and my staff. It starts with coach [Ryan Saunders] and his staff, and it starts with the players.” The Wolves are 4-12 this season, the worst record in the West.
  • After signing a four-year deal in the offseason with Utah, Jazz reserve guard Jordan Clarkson is making an early case for the Sixth Man of the Year award honors with his inspired play of late, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “Definitely it was one of my goals going into this year, to go get that and play that role,” Clarkson says.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Nuggets, Bazley, Jazz

With the 2020 draft currently scheduled for November 18, the Timberwolves are trying to gauge the market value of their three picks this year, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The Wolves currently have the No. 1, No. 17, and No. 33 picks.

President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and his staff have been conducting talent appraisals of their own roster to evaluate the appeal of the team’s trade assets.

“It’s not 100 percent accurate by any means,” Rosas said of the process, “but it gives you a good perspective as you look at your roster, as you look at your body of talent on your team and you look at how you value not only the picks that you have currently, but the picks around the league.”

There’s more out of the NBA’s Northwest Division:

  • In his latest mailbag, Mike Singer of The Denver Post examines some of the best trade options for the Nuggets. These include projecting the players and picks necessary for a possible Jrue Holiday deal, and what could be gained from moving up in the 2020 draft. With power forward Paul Millsap, center Mason Plumlee, and combo forward Jerami Grant all entering free agency, the team may also look to shore up its frontcourt with tactical signings.
  • Thunder wing Darius Bazley impressed Jack Reining of Daily Thunder during the playoffs of his 2019/20 rookie season. Bazley’s improved long-range shot selection appeared to greatly benefit his efficiency, and he was better able to take advantage of his physical attributes and timing during the NBA’s Orlando restart.
  • As we previously relayed, the Jazz may be focused on using the No. 23 pick in this year’s draft to improve their defense.

Timberwolves Notes: Chemistry, Beasley, Rosas, Saunders

Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders believes the team built chemistry and relationships during their mini-camp, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Our No. 1 goal within this week was to compete,” Saunders said. “Because it’s been a really long time since they’ve been able to do that in more of a structured setting. Then we also wanted to connect with this group. While you’re connecting, you also want to be able to build relationships. We talked about it where the team that is the most connected … will get a jump start on next season whenever next season starts.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Team president Gersson Rosas offered support for restricted free agent Malik Beasley, who was recently arrested for narcotics possession and possession of a stolen gun, Hine writes in a separate story. Rosas has said he wants to re-sign Beasley, who was acquired from the Nuggets in February. “He’s family. We’re going to support him,” Rosas said. “We’re going to do the best that we can. But he’s got some things he’s got to take care of. The legal process has some things that have to be processed and we’ll go from there, but we’re a family and we work through things together.”
  • Rosas has formed a strong bond with Saunders because they share the same vision for the franchise, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic“When you have a big-picture perspective and you understand that you’re trying to reset a program, you have to have that perspective in place. I’ve talked about it and I’m fortunate I have a head coach that values the same thing,” Rosas said. “We don’t want sacrifices for the sake of incremental wins. That does nothing for us in the long term.”
  • What are the biggest questions surrounding the team this offseason? We took a closer look in our Offseason Preview.

Northwest Notes: Clarkson, Murray, Timberwolves, Donovan, Paul

Jordan Clarkson enjoyed his stint with the Jazz this season, but it’s uncertain whether he’ll remain in Utah, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News notes. Clarkson will be an unrestricted free agent and multiple suitors will be after his services, Todd points out. Clarkson was a sparkplug off the bench for a playoff team, averaging 15.6 PPG, and the Jazz will be first in line to make him an offer, Todd adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Jamal Murray can truly cement himself as a superstar if the Nuggets can overcome Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post opines. Following his huge performances in the opening round against Utah, Murray was held to 12 points in Game 1 of the Nuggets’ second-round series against the Clippers on Thursday.
  • The Timberwolves will stay open-minded as they mull what to do with the No. 1 overall pick, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas says all options are on the table, since there’s no surefire star in this year’s draft class. “We’re going to do incredible due diligence, whether it’s a point guard, whether it’s a big,” he said. “I’m 100 percent in the camp of ‘find the best player with the best upside.’ That’s the path we’re going to take.”
  • The futures of head coach Billy Donovan and point guard Chris Paul are the biggest questions looming over the Thunder, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Paul is under contract for two more seasons but OKC isn’t likely to attach draft picks to a potential deal, considering Paul’s strong season and playoff performances.