Gersson Rosas

Wolves Notes: Gupta, Finch, Durisic, Ehambe, Outlook

Just hours before word broke that the Timberwolves had fired head of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, team executive Sachin Gupta was meeting with Rosas to smooth things over in advance of the upcoming season, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

As has been previously reported, Gupta explored leaving the organization this summer when he received a job offer from the Rockets. He was blocked by Rosas from accepting that opportunity, since it technically would’ve been a lateral move based on his title, though Krawczynski suggests that it would have come with a “substantial” pay raise. That situation was said to have considerably strained the relationship between the two executives, but Gupta is diplomatic now when he discusses it.

“Those types of things happen around the league,” Gupta said. “I was just focused on doing the best that I could for everyone here in this building and for the team. I’m excited about the decisions that we were all able to make together. Really excited about where we’re at now and about moving forward.”

As Krawczysnki details, after meeting with Rosas to bury the hatchet, Gupta was summoned to meet later in the day with team owner Glen Taylor, who gave him control of the Wolves’ front office following Rosas’ dismissal.

“I’ll be honest, it was definitely a whirlwind that first day,” Gupta told Krawczysnki. “But now that we’re in camp and everyone’s ready to go, definitely everyone’s moved past what’s happened and is really focused on our goals for this year. There’s a lot of good energy in the building and a lot of excitement.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Gupta is close with Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, who says the two franchise leaders talk twice a day and are “leaning on each other a lot right now,” per Krawczynski. “I think we’re completely aligned, not just in terms of basketball philosophy, but in terms of our values and the kind of culture we want to build here,” Gupta said.
  • Zarko Durisic, a popular longtime Timberwolves scout who was let go by Rosas, is back with the team, according to Krawczynski (Twitter link). Durisic will have the same title (senior player personnel scout) and duties as he did before, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • After spending last season on Nate Bjorkgren‘s staff in Indiana, Moses Ehambe has joined the Timberwolves as the team’s director of player programs, a league source tells Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link).
  • While the Timberwolves are close to the tax line and likely won’t take on any extra salary this season, they have more flexibility going forward, opening the door for them to swap expiring deals for multiyear contracts, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes in his season preview. Hollinger likes some of the Wolves’ talent, but thinks they need another reliable forward or two and projects them to finish 12th in the West with a 36-46 record.

Timberwolves Notes: Rosas, Gupta, Finch, Simmons, Towns

The impending ownership change played a role in the surprising dismissal of Gersson Rosas as the Timberwolves‘ president of basketball operations, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Minority partners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who will eventually take over for Glen Taylor, are doing a full investigation into the franchise and discovered “disenchantment” among front office employees, sources tell Krawczynski. Considering the team’s poor record with Rosas in charge, Lore and Rodriguez determined that he would eventually need to be replaced, and that decision was sped up with the discovery that Rosas was having a “consensual intimate relationship” with another member of the organization.

Sachin Gupta, who was chosen to replace Rosas, has strong relationships with the new ownership group and will be given a chance to win the job on a more permanent basis, according to Krawczynski’s sources. He has full power to make decisions on trades and other personnel moves, but will be watched closely to make sure the owners are happy with the direction of the franchise. The Wolves are seeking stability and don’t appear to be searching outside the organization for someone else to take over.

Gupta is a strong supporter of coach Chris Finch, whose job will be safe despite the loss of Rosas, who hired him in February. Finch has “nearly universal approval” throughout the organization, along with the trust of the players. However, he may need a successful season to keep his job if a new lead executive is eventually hired.

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The front office shakeup won’t affect the Wolves’ chances of trading for Ben Simmons, Krawczynski adds in the same piece. Gupta was involved in the team’s negotiations with Philadelphia, according to sources, and like Rosas, he worked with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey in Houston. Minnesota’s main obstacles to landing Simmons are a lack of assets that appeal to Philadelphia and the difficulty of finding a third team to facilitate a deal.
  • Acquiring Simmons may be the only way to keep Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota for the long term, suggests Michael Rand of The Star-Tribune. The Wolves seem likely to miss the playoffs again with their current roster, which increases the chances that Towns will ask for a trade next summer when he will have just two years left on his contract.
  • The bad decisions made by Rosas show the importance of finding the right person to run the team, states John Hollinger of The Athletic. Hollinger notes that the Wolves have a history of front office failure, which is why they have just one playoff appearance over the past 17 years.

Details On Timberwolves’ Dismissal Of Gersson Rosas

The Timberwolves‘ dismissal of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas was made for “performance reasons,” a high-ranking team source told Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic. The team’s lack of success during Rosas’ tenure was a key factor in the decision, and complaints from staffers about Rosas’ leadership also played a part, per The Athletic’s duo.

However, another issue that factored into the timing of the move was the fact that the Wolves recently learned that Rosas – who is married – had a “consensual intimate relationship” with a member of the organization, according to Krawczysnki and Charania, who suggest that the relationship made several people within the franchise uncomfortable.

The Athletic’s deep dive into the situation in Minnesota’s front office uncovered sources who said Rosas worked his staffers long hours without giving them much input into personnel decisions. Some members of the front office took issue with those decisions, such as the one to include such light protections (top-three) on the first-round pick the Wolves sent Golden State in the D’Angelo Russell trade.

Rosas did have backers within the organization, including some who reached out to The Athletic in recent weeks to defend the way things were going, per Krawczynski and Charania. Some of Rosas’ defenders believe the pandemic and the change of ownership were factors that contributed to tension in the front office, while Rosas himself “vehemently disputed” that there were any significant problems with the team’s culture.

Still, many of The Athletic’s sources described Rosas’ tenure as dysfunctional, and when those complaints reached ownership, Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore decided the situation was untenable and a move needed to be made sooner rather than later.

“It’s hard,” said one staffer who followed Rosas to Minnesota after he was hired in 2019. “He’s not who I thought he was.”

The report from Krawczynski and Charania is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber. Here are some of the other highlights:

  • New interim head of basketball operations Sachin Gupta is well-regarded by team officials and is expected to get a chance to earn the permanent job, sources tell The Athletic. However, Krawczynski and Charania note that Gupta did “butt heads” with Rosas this summer when Gupta sought to make a lateral move to the Rockets for a similar job with higher pay, and Rosas blocked him. Rosas defended the decision by saying that the move wouldn’t have been a promotion, and it was too close to the draft and free agency to let a top executive with so much knowledge of Minnesota’s plans leave to join a rival. According to The Athletic, Rosas “banished” Gupta from the team’s offices in August and allowed him to seek employment elsewhere at that point, but Gupta decided to stay with the Wolves after ownership got involved.
  • Some player agents had issues with Rosas’ negotiating tactics, according to Krawczynski and Charania, who point to the team’s recent contract talks with Jordan McLaughlin as one example. A source tells The Athletic that Rosas reneged on promises about the role McLaughlin would have going forward after Patrick Beverley was acquired. Although agents recognized Rosas’ primary allegiance was to the organization, they expected better treatment in certain scenarios, according to The Athletic’s duo. “Rosas was the cause of mishaps and pulled his promises,” the source said of the McLaughlin negotiations.
  • Rosas’ decision to replace head coach Ryan Saunders with Chris Finch during the season without considering any other candidates – including minority candidates – wasn’t popular with some staffers, and neither was the decision to part with veteran scout Zarko Durisic last year, per Krawczysnki and Charania. Some people believed those moves flew in the face of Rosas’ portrayal of the organization as a “family.”
  • Krawczynski and Charania say Rosas was “working feverishly” this offseason to try to acquire Ben Simmons, who was viewed by some people in the organization as the roster’s missing piece. It’s unclear if Gupta will have the same level of interest in the Sixers star.
  • A report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report confirms and adds some details to many of the issues reported by The Athletic, including the recent discovery of Rosas’ “consensual extramarital affair” with a team staffer.

Wolves Part Ways With President Of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas

The Timberwolves are parting ways with president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas, sources tell Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team has confirmed the news, issuing the following statement:

“Today, the Minnesota Timberwolves parted ways with President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. As an organization, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of.”

Rosas had only run the Timberwolves’ basketball operations department for two years, having been hired by the franchise in May of 2019 after a lengthy stint in the Rockets’ front office. He overhauled the roster after taking the reins — Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie are the only two holdover players from the previous regime.

While he has certainly been active, Rosas hasn’t necessarily taken the Timberwolves any closer to legitimate contention in the last two years. His major moves – including trading up for Jarrett Culver in the 2019 draft and sending Andrew Wiggins and a first-round pick to Golden State for D’Angelo Russell – have been a mixed bag, at best. The club had a record of just 42-94 (.309) during Rosas’ tenure and isn’t viewed by professional oddsmakers as a probable playoff team for 2021/22.

Despite some questionable personnel decisions, the timing of Rosas’ dismissal is still surprising. Typically, a team replacing its head of basketball operations will do so at the end of the season, before the draft and free agency take place. The Wolves are making a change less than a week before training camp begins, after Rosas completed many of the team’s offseason roster moves – including trading for Patrick Beverley and re-signing Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin – in the last few weeks.

A tweet from star big man Karl-Anthony Towns likely summed up what many Wolves fans are feeling. Towns’ message simply reads, “Wtf…”

Of course, it’s worth noting that the Wolves are in the midst of an ownership change, with Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore buying the franchise from longtime owner Glen Taylor. New ownership groups often prefer to make their own front office hires rather than sticking with the incumbent executives.

However, Rodriguez and Lore don’t have majority control of the organization yet, having agreed to a succession plan that won’t see them fully take over until 2023. They’ll have a voice in major decisions over the next two years, but the statement announcing Rosas’ dismissal today was attributed to Taylor.

We should get more details soon on why the Wolves would make such a major change now and what their plan is to replace Rosas. For the time being, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggests (via Twitter) that Sixers GM Elton Brand is a name worth watching, since Rodriguez and Lore are believed to be high on Brand.

Speaking of Philadelphia, we’ll also be keeping a close eye on how this move affects Minnesota’s rumored pursuit in Ben Simmons. The Wolves have been viewed for much of the offseason as one of the teams most interested in Simmons — it’s unclear how Rosas’ departure may impact the club’s level of interest in the 76ers star.

Wolves Notes: Beverley Trade, Free Agency, Beasley

In his latest piece for The Athletic, Jon Krawczynski writes that for the Timberwolves, trading Juan Hernangomez and Jarrett Culver was not just about adding a veteran defender and shooter in Patrick Beverley, but also about dealing two players who were looking for a change of scenery to get their careers back on track.

According to Krawczynski, Culver grew disenfranchised with the Wolves as he fell further and further out of the rotation in 2020/21, which caused him at times to seem to lose all confidence in himself. Hernangomez wanted out from the team that barred his participation in the Olympics due to a shoulder injury that Spanish doctors had cleared him from, and even went so far as to reach out to team owner Glen Taylor to attempt to circumvent the decision of president Gersson Rosas.

Krawczynski adds that Rosas has a relationship with Beverley going back to his time in with the Rockets, the team that originally brought the defensive-minded point guard over from Europe and got his NBA career on track.

We have more Timberwolves news:

  • Krawczysnki suggests that adding a little extra money in the Beverley deal will further complicate the Wolves’ efforts to sign restricted free agents Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin to multiyear deals. He expects Vanderbilt to receive a multiyear contract, while the team uses te minimum salary exception to add another point guard, either McLaughlin or someone else.
  • Trading Culver is a concession by Rosas that the first draft pick of his tenure, a pick he traded Dario Saric and the 11th pick to acquire, was a failure, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. The idea, Rand writes, was for Culver to provide a similar skill-set Beverley will now be counted on for: to play hard-nosed defense and knock down threes. Rand adds that, on his expiring salary, Beverley could be a good trade chip if the team is underperforming at the trade deadline.
  • Darren Wolfson of SKOR North tweets that he’s been told Beverley is “very happy” with the trade to the Wolves. Beverley, no stranger to fighting for his place in the league, has had a tumultuous couple days, and while no longer on a championship contender, he has a chance to play a vital role for an up-and-coming team.
  • Malik Beasley has been released from jail after serving 78 days for pleading guilty to threats of violence, writes Jeff Day of The Star Tribune. Beasley was sentenced to 120 days, and was released after 78 for good behavior. If he completes his three years of probation, the charge will be dropped from felony to misdemeanor.

Northwest Notes: Billups, Hyland, Rosas, Jazz

New Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups wants to bring a commitment to defense to Portland, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. As an assistant with the Clippers last season, Billups was aware of the Blazers’ poor defensive reputation, and L.A. averaged 124.7 PPG against them in three games. A former defensive standout as a player, Billups envisions a team more in his image.

“To go to the next level, and be more competitive, and be more consistent, we got to be so much better defensively,” he said. “I know that. It’s not going to be optional to play hard defensively.”

Portland will continue to use a three-guard lineup, Fentress adds, as 6’3″ Norman Powell will keep the starting role he was given after being acquired from the Raptors at the trade deadline. After the deal, the Blazers’ starting lineup ranked fourth in the league in net rating at plus 13.3.

“I think in today’s game, you can play that way,” Billups said. “But to me, if you’re going to win that way, all three of those guys have to be committed on the defensive end of the floor. That can be an issue. It’s already been an issue.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Rookie guard Bones Hyland looks like he may be the Nuggets‘ latest draft steal, observes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. Hyland showed off his full range of moves in a 28-point Summer League performance on Saturday. “When the bright lights come on, I never shy away from them,” Hyland said. “That’s been me my whole life. I make things happen when the lights are on. The bigger the stage, the bigger I play.”
  • President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said the Timberwolves are focused on “internal development” rather than trying to make a splash in free agency, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Minnesota hasn’t signed any free agents except for two-way deals, and Rosas suggests that any significant additions will come through trades. “You’re very strategic in addressing needs, but we don’t want to overpay for the sake of overpaying unless it makes sense for us,” he said. “We feel like the trade market is a little more efficient in that regard and we’ve invested a lot in our own players. We want to give those guys opportunities to take advantage of those roles.”
  • The Summer League emphasis is on developing young talent and finding players for the upcoming season, but the Jazz are also focused on winning a title after a 3-0 start, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News“I don’t think development and winning are mutually exclusive,” coach Bryan Bailey said. “They can go together. Part of the development is learning how to win. You want to see things, want guys to work on things. But it’s all together, it’s all intertwined.”

Olympic Notes: LaVine, NBA Participants, Hernangomez, Finals Trio

Zach LaVine was placed in protocols due to contact tracing before he was allowed to go to Tokyo. That development came as a big surprise to the Team USA wing. LaVine was sidelined for 11 Bulls games in April when he tested positive for COVID-19, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. “Well I was a little shocked,’’ LaVine said. “Obviously, I didn’t think I could get [the virus]. Obviously, I didn’t. I’m going to have to be careful with everybody including the team and everybody coming over here, so it made sense, and I pretty much had to do my time, jump through a couple hoops to get here.’’

We have more Olympic-related notes:

  • If there are a lot of familiar faces in the Olympic tournament, it’s because there are a record number of current and former NBA participants. According to an NBA press release, there are 49 current players and 16 former players dotting Olympic rosters. The Heat lead the way with four players in the competition.
  • Spain’s basketball federation president claims that Juan Hernangomez won’t play in the Olympics because Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas nixed it, according to a Eurohoops story relayed by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Hernangomez dislocated his left shoulder this summer but Jorge Garbajosa says the big man has been cleared by Spain’s medical staff. “Juancho wants to play in the Olympic Games, but Juancho won’t be able to play,” Garbajosa said. “We’ve had countless medical meetings and we’ve never received a ‘no.’ We have a received a ‘yes’. … It’s a problem of people – not medical personnel – who have personally decided that Juancho couldn’t play. I’m talking about their president of basketball operations.”
  • Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday arrived in Tokyo on Saturday and their Team USA teammates are impressed by the commitment of the three players who participated in the Finals, Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes. “I have a lot of respect for those guys for not only committing to do this but actually keeping their word,” Draymond Green said. “You’re talking about three true professionals, three extremely competitive guys that wouldn’t be on their way here if this didn’t mean something.”

Northwest Notes: Conley, Rosas, Pokusevski, Gobert

Jazz All-Star point guard Mike Conley enjoyed a solid comeback game after missing nine contests with a sore right hamstring, writes Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. In what amounted to a playoff tune-up game for Conley, an unrestricted free agent this summer, he scored 10 points in just 16 minutes during the first half of a 109-93 victory against the Thunder. Conley, 33, could be in line for one last big multiyear payday thanks to his stellar season in Utah.

“It was great to have him back,” Conley’s All-Star Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert said. “I feel like he was quick, he was making the right decisions. Obviously, he didn’t play the second half, but I thought in the first half, he really gave us a lift. That’s what we expect him to do. He’ll find his rhythm and hopefully get back to the level that he is comfortable playing [at]. If he plays the way he played tonight every night, I’m totally fine with that.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves team president Gersson Rosas is confident that he is building a long-term winner in Minnesota, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune“We’ve had what we’ve had the last two years for whatever reasons there are,” Rosas said. “Things we can control, things we can’t control, and our record is what it is and that’s who we are. We really feel confident about the core, the roster we have in place. … Even though it’s a small sample size, when our top guys are on the floor, we’re a winning team and that’s our belief.” The Timberwolves are currently 22-49, tied with the Cavaliers for the league’s fifth worst record. The team’s 2021 draft pick will be sent to the Warriors unless it moves into the top three during the draft lottery.
  • Thunder rookie power forward Aleksej Pokusevski, the No. 17 pick in the 2020 draft, saw his season trajectory benefit from a G League assignment, per Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman. “The first 10-15 [NBA] games I was just shooting the ball, wasn’t even reading the defense,” Pokusevski said. “The game slowed down after the G League for me. I started reading the game.”
  • Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert has unlocked his second consecutive $250K bonus for having his minutes-to-rebounds ratio being less than 3.2, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Gobert, the likely Defensive Player of the Year, will make an additional $500K if he is named an All-Defensive First Teamer. Marks adds (Twitter link) that none of Gobert’s potential bonuses will impact the team’s projected luxury tax bill, since those incentives were deemed likely entering the season.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Clarkson, Jokic, Rivers

Asked this week during an appearance on The Star Tribune’s Daily Delivery podcast about the trade that sent Andrew Wiggins and a lightly-protected first-round pick to Golden State in exchange for D’Angelo Russell at the 2020 trade deadline, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas expressed no regrets, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune.

Even if Rosas – with the Timberwolves in position to give up a possible top-five pick to the Warriors – was having second thoughts about the trade, it’s not as if he’d be inclined to admit as much during a podcast appearance. But Rand said he felt as if the Wolves’ president was being honest and forthright in his assessment of the deal.

“As of now, I think our resurgence has happened with D’Angelo’s return, so that’s paying dividends now,” Rosas said. “We put the protection in the pick that we felt like was critical to keeping the pick. At some point you’re going to give the pick up whether it’s this year or next year. We’re firm believers. We did it for a purpose. We’re seeing the return on that deal now.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • After bouncing from Los Angeles to Cleveland to Utah during his first few NBA seasons, Jordan Clarkson has found an ideal fit with the Jazz, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes in an extensive look at the Sixth Man of the Year candidate. “The organization has let me be myself, and that’s meant a lot,” Clarkson said.
  • When the Nuggets clinched a spot in the first round of the postseason this week, it secured a $500K bonus for Nikola Jokic, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Since that bonus had already been deemed likely entering the season, it’ll have no impact on Denver’s cap.
  • After scoring 25 points on Wednesday against his old team (the Knicks), Austin Rivers had nothing but praise for his new team, the Nuggets, per Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. “This has been a life-saver and (life)-changer for me, coming (to Denver),” Rivers said. “I’ve never experienced a team, an organization, like this, (where it’s) so about ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ …. They just build everybody up here. That’s why (Michael Porter Jr.) plays the way he plays and Jokic and all these guys. They just build everybody up here. So I just feel kind of lucky. Honestly, I’m just lucky to be here and thankful to be here.”

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.