Gersson Rosas

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.

Northwest Notes: Draft Lottery, No. 1 Pick, Ariza, Morgan

Despite ending the 2019/20 season with 2019 All-Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell on the roster, the Timberwolves finished with a paltry 19-45 record, second-worst in the Western Conference and third-worst overall in the NBA.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes us behind the scenes of the NBA draft lottery that resulted in some more positive news for the Wolves’ 2020/21 season, as the team nabbed the No. 1 pick for the 2020 draft, currently scheduled for October 16. President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas expressed excitement about the team’s future prospects with the top pick on the horizon.

“Development is important and critical to our success, but this allows us to take a major step in terms of the talent acquisition, whether it’s in the draft or trade market, whatever the case may be,” Rosas said. “It really positions us well moving forward.”

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

  • The Timberwolves will still have several considerations to account for now that they have the No. 1 pick for the 2020 draft, according to Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Rosas noted that, whether Minnesota retains the pick or trades it for a veteran asset, the team will be able to build around its two 24-year-old centerpieces and some exciting, inexpensive depth like defensive-oriented shooting guard Josh Okogie. “This No. 1 pick gives it another layer of value to find whether it’s the No. 2 or No. 3 guy,” Rosas said. “We’re not this organization that’s bare and is praying for a franchise pick, which I think gives us a different perspective as we go into this draft.” The most natural fit for Minnesota among the top prospects appears to be swingman Anthony Edwards of Georgia.
  • Trail Blazers starting small forward Trevor Ariza told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that his decision to opt out of the NBA’s restart to spend time with his son was worth it, but that it’s been tough to watch his teammates from afar. “Man, the word ‘hard’ doesn’t even begin to describe it,” Ariza said. “This is what I was born to do, to play basketball. I’ve been doing it my whole life. And to know my team has a chance to compete for a championship, and I’m not with them. … It burns me up inside.” Ariza also confirmed that he briefly explored the idea of rejoining the Blazers once his visitation period with his son was over, but that the NBA made it clear it wouldn’t be permitted.
  • Undrafted Jazz rookie wing Juwan Morgan has proved his mettle as a key role player during Utah’s first round playoff series against the Nuggets, as we detailed last week. Morgan is averaging 15.6 MPG in the series and started for Utah’s first two games with point guard Mike Conley away from the team. He’s signed with the Jazz for a one-year, $746K minimum salary.

Latest On Possibility Of Timberwolves Sale

The Straus Group, an investment firm founded by Daniel Straus, is exploring the possibility of purchasing the Timberwolves, people with knowledge of the matter tells Gillian Tan of Bloomberg. It’s not clear if The Straus Group is operating alone or as part of a consortium, according to Tam.

Straus has been involved in NBA team ownership in the past, having controlled shares of the Grizzlies up until 2018. Majority owner Robert Pera bought out Straus and fellow minority stakeholder Steve Kaplan two years ago after a clause in their purchase agreement was triggered — if Pera hadn’t purchased Straus’ and Kaplan’s shares in the team, he would’ve had to sell the Grizzlies to them at the same valuation.

Straus is one of just many potential bidders in the mix for the Timberwolves, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who tweets that a number of people and groups with interest have not yet been publicly identified. Former NBA players Kevin Garnett and Arron Afflalo are believed to be part of two separate groups with interest in purchasing the franchise.

[RELATED: Glen Taylor Discusses Potential Timberwolves Sale]

According to Charley Walters of The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Garnett’s group includes a pair of billionaires from California and another one from Florida. Walters suggests that the plan would be for KG to invest $200MM and to become the head of basketball operations if his group were to buy the team. If that’s accurate, it’s not clear what it would mean for current president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.

Walters also reports that the asking price for the Timberwolves – along with the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx – is expected to be in the $1.2 billion range, though that’s obviously subject to change depending on how the bidding plays out.

Wolves Notes: Towns, Season, Rosas

Despite declining to offer specifics, Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas feels optimistic about Karl-Anthony Towns wrist injury, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes.

Towns suffered a fractured wrist on Feb. 10 and missed each of the remaining games before the season was suspended indefinitely. Before suffering the injury, he was putting up per-game averages of 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

“At the right time we’ll make a formal announcement of where things are at, but to be fair out of respect for Karl and what he’s living through right now, we want to make sure and give him his space and his opportunity to work through things moving forward,” Rosas said. “Big picture, we feel positive about that situation and when the time is right we’ll share more details on the specifics of that.”

Towns’ mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, tragically passed away from coronavirus complications in April. His father also contracted the virus and has since recovered.

Minnesota was one of eight teams that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s restart, owning just a 19-45 record on the season. The team will now shift its focus to next season with hopes of successfully building around the likes of Towns and star teammate D’Angelo Russell going forward.

Here are some other notes out of Minnesota tonight:

  • In a separate article for the Star Tribune, Chris Hine examines the T-Wolves’ patience throughout the season before finally pulling the plug and making a blockbuster trade to acquire Russell at the NBA’s trade deadline. “I’m not doing my job if I’m not coming in every day to figure out ways to improve our roster and find the best players we can find,” Rosas said. “I love our group, I like the potential that they have, but to be fair, it’s potential right now, and they’re young players and it’s a young team. So can we do our part to help them become the best players they can be, and can they fit in our organization and in our roster to maximize our vision?”
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic examines the pros and cons of Minnesota being left out of the NBA’s restart plan in Orlando. The team is working to collaborate with the other franchises not playing in Orlando on multiple options, including the possibility of hosting competitive practices together. “Not being able to get that last month-plus was definitely something we wanted in terms of our continuity as we went towards the summer,” head coach Ryan Saunders said. “That’s another reason why this is going to be important for us to be able to get some time together as a group.”

Rosas: Towns “As Untouchable As They Come”

Teams around the NBA have been keeping an eye on the Timberwolves this season to see how Karl-Anthony Towns is coping with another sub-.500 season, but president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas made it clear in a conversation with ESPN’s Eric Woodyard that those clubs won’t get a chance to trade for the star big man this winter.

“Karl-Anthony Towns is as untouchable as they come,” Rosas told Woodyard. “He’s the best player on our team and he’s the guy we’re building around. Everything we do is to help him become the best player and to help us become the best team we can be. He’s a special talent that we’re going to do anything possible to help him achieve his highest potential.”

Rosas’ comments don’t come as a surprise. The opportunity to build around Towns was likely a major reason why he agreed to become the head of basketball operations in Minnesota last spring after nearly two decades in Houston.

Towns is in the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract, so there’s no reason for the Timberwolves to consider a move involving the former No. 1 overall pick unless he explicitly asks for one — even then, he’d have limited leverage to force the team’s hand, since he can’t reach the open market until 2024.

Although the Wolves have had a disappointing season so far, with their 15-29 record placing them in a tie for 13th in the West, Towns recently dismissed the idea that he’s unhappy in Minnesota, referring to the trade speculation surrounding him as “nonsense.”

For now, Rosas and the Wolves’ front office are expected to continue seeking ways to upgrade Towns’ supporting cast, with a long-term answer at point guard among the most pressing items on the club’s wish list.

“We’ve been very aggressive. We’ve been very thorough in terms of any opportunities to help our team, and that’ll be a continual process,” Rosas told ESPN. “So for us, we’re gonna be very active and we’re going to look at any opportunity that can present itself and make sure that if there’s a deal that we can do to improve our team, we’re going to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Wolves Notes: Trades, KAT, Culver

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said trading away Jeff Teague gave the team added flexibility, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic relays (Twitter link).

“We want to be positioned where we can take advantage of opportunities that present themselves where you can acquire a high-level player and give a team savings if they need it,” the executive said.

Minnesota traded Teague and Treveon Graham to Atlanta for wing Allen Crabbe earlier today. Here’s more from Minnesota:

  • The Wolves are confident they’re on the same page with their superstar Karl-Anthony Towns, as Rosas tells Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “We have an ownership group and a leadership group here that’s given us every resource to be successful,” Rosas said. “We’ve been aggressive at every step of the way during my short tenure here, whether it’s the draft or free agency, to bring in high-level talent. There’s going to be challenges along that path, but I’m extremely confident we’re on the same page and there’s full commitment from every level here to make this successful.”
  • In the same piece, Rosas added that the team is happy with No. 6 overall pick Jarrett Culver‘s progress. “What he’s doing in a semi-point guard role this year, for a guy at his age, with his skill set, is very exciting. History shows you that guys will improve their shooting,” Rosas said. “…We’re very excited about what he means for this organization now and in the future.”
  • Former Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has been in Minnesota, visiting with the Wolves’ coaching staff and front office, Krawcynski tweets. The scribe adds that the late Flip Saunders had a history of meeting with coaches who were currently out of the league.

Front Office Approach Contributing To Andrew Wiggins’ Success

Andrew Wiggins has failed to live up to the expectations of a No. 1 pick but Gersson Rosas didn’t see that in him when he took over the Timberwolves‘ team president role. Rosas saw the 6’8″ wing as a distressed asset and someone he could help to improve.

“I’m a player development guy at heart,” Rosas told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. “I love these kind of projects.”

Rosas was with the Rockets as James Harden bloomed into the superstar that he is today. Harden’s ascension didn’t happen overnight and the executive knew patience would be key with getting the most out of Wiggins. Stability would be another factor. Minnesota had shuffled through head coaches for much of the forward’s time with the club but with Ryan Saunders came familiarity. Saunders has been with the franchise in lower coaching roles since Wiggins came into the league and two have a strong relationship.

The front office wanted Wiggins to work on his three-point shot this summer and according to Mannix, he spent more of the offseason in Minnesota this past summer than he has in any other year to accomplish that goal. He constantly reminds himself to take the three if it’s available, which is just part of the game plan of taking better shots overall.

The results? Wiggins, who turns 25 in February, is averaging career-highs in a bevy of categories with points (25.3), assists (3.3), player efficiency rating (20.1) and true shooting percentage (.550) among the stats that reflect his improvement.

“Anytime you have better play, more efficient play as you grow your usage, that’s something that’s pretty interesting,” Rosas said. “That’s him doing the work, the system helping him out and everything trending in a very, very positive way. It’s a commitment to competing, working and buying into what’s we’re doing that’s going to work for him. It’s going to work for our team.”

Wolves Notes: Wiggins, Rosas, Covington, Teauge

Andrew Wiggins was a popular topic of conversation as new Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas made the rounds Thursday at the Minnesota State Fair, relays Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Most of the questions concerned the uneven production that Wiggins has provided since signing a five-year max extension in 2017. Wiggins posted an 18.1/4.8/2.5 line last season, but shot a career worst 41.2% from the field and 33.9% from 3-point range.

Rosas understands fans’ frustrations, but pointed out that Wiggins has dealt with frequent coaching changes since coming to Minnesota in 2014. Still, Rosas wants to see more production from one of the cornerstones of the franchise.

“Andrew in particular with his talent and physical abilities, the potential he’s shows, we’ve got to get that on a more consistent basis,” Rosas said. “He’s focused on it as well. In order for us to have the success we want to have, he’s got to be a main contributor. He understands that, we understand that.”

There’s more out of Minnesota:

  • The Wolves already have 15 players with guaranteed contracts, but they may be willing to add more before training camp starts, Rosas said in the same story. That means they could be stuck with dead money if they can’t work out a trade before rosters have to be finalized, but Rosas is willing to take that chance. “If we have to eat a contract, we’ll eat a contract,” he said. “But we want to create depth, competitiveness in camp and sometimes you end up eating or trading a contract you need to. At the end of the day you want to emphasize competition and a guy beats another guy out, we have the flexibility to do that.”
  • Robert Covington and Jeff Teague, who both had their seasons cut short by injuries last year, are expected to be ready for training camp with no restrictions, Hine adds. Covington dealt with a bone bruise in his right knee that limited him to 22 games after he arrived in a November trade with the Sixers. He had an arthoscopic procedure performed on the knee in April. Teague was limited to 42 games because of fragments in his left ankle and had a debridement procedure after the season ended.
  • Two offseason projections give the Wolves a good chance to bounce back from a disappointing season. FiveThirtyEight expects a 42-40 record with a 45% chance to make the playoffs, while ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus projects them for 39.5 wins and a 32% shot at the postseason.

Western Notes: Kuzma, Carmelo, Daniels, Rockets, Rosas

With Carmelo Anthony still unsigned nearly six weeks after the start of free agency, Anthony has received strong support from a rather surprising source this week: Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma, who is entering his third season with the Lakers, a team that’s been linked to Anthony for several months, firmly believes that Anthony belongs on an NBA roster and is better than many players who currently hold roster spots.

“Melo is easily better than half the league right now,” Kuzma said, according to Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times. “There’s no question about it. He should be on a team right now. He’s still one of the best players. The slander people throw at him is something I don’t really understand. Maybe that’s just the way today’s society is right now.

“It would be great to see him in L.A., but I don’t make those decisions. That’s up to [Lakers GM] Rob [Pelinka] to make those decisions as far as what he thinks is best for the Lakers. He’s done a great job so far putting this team together.”

The Lakers expressed exploratory interest in Anthony last season, but ultimately decided against signing the 35-year-old to a contract. Anthony last played in an NBA game during November of 2018.

“I love the game too much to be away from it,” he said on ESPN’s First Take last week. “I just love the game. I train the young guys, I’m training myself, I’m in it. I got a new life to me.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • New Lakers guard Troy Daniels discussed his decision to sign with the team in an interview with Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype. “I think we have the correct balance of veterans and young guys,” Daniels said of his team. “We have the guys who have been in the league a while and won championships, but we also have the young guys who are still developing like Kyle Kuzma, who is coming along really well and has tremendous upside. We have go-to stars in Anthony Davis and LeBron James. I think we have the right combination of guys on this team and I think we can go really far. Our goal is to win a championship, but first and foremost, we must make the playoffs. And once we make the playoffs, we’ll go from there. But this team could go really far and I’m really looking forward to working with all of these guys.”
  • The Rockets renounced their draft rights to Marko Todorovic, making the 27-year-old center an unrestricted free agent, according to RealGM’s transactions page. Todorovic was the 45th overall pick in the 2013 draft.
  • Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski recently praised Wolves president Gersson Rosas, who accepted his new job with the organization back in May. “He’s a completely trustworthy guy,” Krzyzewski said of Rosas, according to Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune. “When you’re building a winning culture, one of the main things you need is trust,” Krzyzewski said recently. “You have to believe a person. You can believe him in an instant. If he says it, it is going to happen.” Rosas was the international player personnel scout on Team USA in 2016, with Krzyzewski serving as head coach at the time.