Jordan McLaughlin

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.

Timberwolves Notes: Bolmaro, Prince, Vanderbilt, McLaughlin, Towns

Timberwolves rookie guard Leandro Bolmaro plays fearlessly, head coach Chris Finch told Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and other media members this week. The 23rd pick in the draft, Bolmaro is expected to sign his rookie contract shortly.

“We love that about him. He competes, he’s bouncy, he just knows how to play basketball,” Finch said. “He moves well off the ball, fits in around all of the pieces we already have.”

We have more on the Timberwolves:

  • Forward Taurean Prince, acquired in the Ricky Rubio deal with Cleveland, believes he’ll play all three frontcourt positions at some point this season, Hine adds in the same story. “The ball moves around and like coach said it gives a lot of opportunity to everybody,” Prince said. “Those are the best systems because everyone likes to play off each other and it maximizes everyone’s potential as well.”
  • Jarred Vanderbilt officially signed his new three-year, $13.8MM contract on Wednesday. According to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link), the first-year salary is $4.05MM and he’ll get $4.374MM in 2022/23. Vanderbilt’s 2023/24 salary of $4.698MM is partially guaranteed at $300K. The contract also includes $162K in likely bonuses and $405K in unlikely bonuses, Smith adds.
  • Jordan McLaughlin also inked his new three-year, $6.5MM deal this week. The first-year salary will be $2MM, Smith tweets. In 2022/23, he’ll receive $2.16MM. His 2023/24 salary of $2.32MM is non-guaranteed. The contract includes $100K in unlikely bonuses in all three seasons.
  • A refocused Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the reasons for optimism in Minnesota, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. The past two seasons for the team’s top big man have been marred by injuries and personal tragedy. He’s been working on his game diligently this summer, which bodes well for his continued development. Anthony Edwards’ encore after a powerful finish to his rookie campaign, plus the ability of Finch to have a full off-season to prepare the team for the upcoming season, should also entice fans. Krawczynski delves into a number of topics in the mailbag, including the possibility of Malik Beasley or D’Angelo Russell taking a sixth-man role.

Timberwolves Re-Sign Jarred Vanderbilt, Jordan McLaughlin

SEPTEMBER 15: The Timberwolves have officially announced their new deals with both Vanderbilt and McLaughlin, confirming the signings in a press release.

SEPTEMBER 10: Restricted free agent forward Jarred Vanderbilt has agreed to stay with the Timberwolves on a three-year, $13.8MM contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Vanderbilt’s contract starts at $4MM and include some likely and unlikely bonuses, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. It’s fully guaranteed for the first two years and partially guaranteed in the final year of the deal, Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype tweets.

Vanderbilt played 64 games, including 30 starts, last season. He averaged 5.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 17.8 MPG. He was limited to 28 games combined in his first two seasons, including a stint with the Nuggets.

The Timberwolves are also re-signing another restricted free agent, Jordan McLaughlin. He’ll receive a three-year, $6.5MM contract, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. The first two years are guaranteed.

McLaughlin, who is entering his third season, appeared in 51 games last season, including two starts. He averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.8 APG in 18.4 MPG and adds depth at the point guard spot.

Northwest Notes: Simmons, Wolves, Nuggets

As the NBA nears the start of the 2021/22 season, tensions continue to simmer between All-Star Ben Simmons and his current team, the Sixers. Philadelphia is hoping to deal Simmons for win-now assets, while Simmons, despite having four years left on his current contract, has threatened to not report for training camp and beyond if he is not moved. The more the two sides’ stalemate drags on, the better the Timberwolves‘ odds are of swooping in to deal for the former No. 1 lottery pick, posits Michael Rand of the Star Tribune.

Rand wonders if adding Simmons could be the move Minnesota needs to return to the playoffs for the first time since the team’s lone full Jimmy Butler season in 2017/18. Rand thinks the Timberwolves should be ready to offer anyone not named Anthony Edwards or Karl-Anthony Towns in exchange for Simmons.

A year ago, the Sixers would most likely have even balked at an offer for Edwards or Towns, though that has changed now as Simmons’ value has declined following a disastrous postseason performance on offense. Simmons, a great defender and passer, could be an ideal fit for a hyper-athletic wing like Edwards and a jump-shooting center like Towns. The Timberwolves could be an excellent landing spot for Simmons, but whether or not they have enough to offer in return for the All-Defensive First Teamer without including Edwards or Towns remains to be seen.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves managed to avoid the NBA’s luxury tax this summer while still retaining Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin, two promising young players, on affordable three-year contracts, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The 22-year-old Vanderbilt looks ready to take next steps at the power forward position, where he should see significant run, along with the newly-acquired Taurean Prince. Krawczynski notes that the 6’9″ Vanderbilt should especially help the club with rebounding, and could even be given the nod as the team’s starting power forward heading into the year.
  • The Nuggets have revealed the assistant coaches slated to join their new G League team, the Grand Rapids Gold, per a team press release. Head coach Jason Terry, a former Sixth Man of the Year and champ with the Mavericks, will be helped on the bench by assistant coaches Travess Armenta (most recently a Nuggets player development coach and video department member), former Mississippi State assistant coach Tamisha Augustin, former Wizards assistant coach Jim Lynam Jr. and former Hawks assistant Nathan Babcock. This marks the first head coaching gig for Terry, a 19-year NBA veteran. He spent the 2020/21 season as an assistant coach at Arizona, his alma mater.
  • In case you missed it, free agent power forward Patrick Patterson has agreed to a training camp deal with the Trail Blazers.

Checking In On Remaining Restricted Free Agents

When Lauri Markkanen finally came off the board over the weekend, it left just two standard restricted free agents who are still unsigned, as our FA list shows. Both of those players are Timberwolves free agents: Jordan McLaughlin and Jarred Vanderbilt.

Restricted free agents never have a ton of leverage, especially this deep into the offseason. Some players who remain on the market for weeks, like Markkanen, can still land player-friendly deals, but if McLaughlin or Vanderbilt have been drawing interest around the NBA as coveted sign-and-trade candidates or potential offer sheet recipients, we probably would’ve heard about it by now.

McLaughlin looked like he might be in position to secure a favorable commitment from the Timberwolves after the team traded Ricky Rubio to Cleveland, but Minnesota’s recent move to acquire Patrick Beverley adds depth to the point guard spot and clouds McLaughlin’s future.

A year ago, McLaughlin ultimately decided to accept his qualifying offer and play on a two-way contract for a second consecutive season. This time around, his QO is the equivalent of a one-year, minimum-salary deal, but only a very small portion of that offer (about $84K) has to be guaranteed, so accepting it isn’t a great option.

The Wolves are likely willing to offer a more significant guarantee in 2021/22, but probably want to tack on at least one or two non-guaranteed, minimum-salary years to any deal for McLaughlin. With two-way player McKinley Wright in the picture as a potential third point guard, Minnesota has the roster flexibility to play hardball in its negotiations with McLaughlin.

Vanderbilt may be in a slightly better negotiating position, since he’s likely a higher priority for the Wolves. He started 30 games last season, earning a regular rotation role and showing the ability to handle minutes at power forward, the team’s most glaring weak spot.

Minnesota has a few options at the four, but Taurean Prince and Jake Layman won’t move the needle much, and Jaden McDaniels remains pretty raw. Vanderbilt would be a useful depth piece at the right price, which – in the Wolves’ view – is probably something not far above the veteran’s minimum.

As we wait to see what happens with McLaughlin and Vanderbilt, it’s also worth noting that there are technically four other restricted free agents still on the market. The following four players were made RFAs after finishing the season on two-way contracts:

For these four players, accepting a qualifying offer would mean getting another two-way contract with a $50K partial guarantee.

Signing that qualifying offer would provide no security, even though the Spurs, Clippers, Rockets, and Cavaliers do all have two-way slots open right now. Given the modest guarantee, a team likely wouldn’t hesitate to replace one of its two-way players in October with a camp invitee who has an impressive preseason. And as McLaughlin’s situation shows, even playing out a second year on a two-way QO wouldn’t necessarily give a player additional leverage in his next foray into restricted free agency.

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: Wolves, Lillard, Jazz, Butler

Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas is urging fans to be patient after the team’s slow start to free agency, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota hasn’t made any significant additions since the signing period began on Monday, but Rosas said the plan is to keep the core of the team intact and try to build on the momentum from late last season. The Wolves had a .500 record over their final 22 games.

“We just want to see this team come together,” he said. “As well as this team played down the stretch last year, we didn’t have Malik Beasley available because of injury. This group, the value of continuity, the value of growth together and just repetition together as a team, we’re excited about what that growth might mean.”

The immediate concern will be keeping restricted free agents Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin, Krawczynski adds. Both are facing a market where teams are left with limited resources and limited roster spots. Rosas spoke to them and their agents shortly after the signing period began.

Head coach Chris Finch foresees an expanded role for both players if they return. McLaughlin may become the primary backup at point guard now that Ricky Rubio is on the way to Cleveland, while Vanderbilt is one of the team’s most versatile defenders.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard helped Team USA capture a gold medal despite playing with an abdominal injury, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. He will require further testing once he returns from Tokyo. Lillard, who was determined to keep playing despite the injury, logged 27 minutes and scored 11 points in Friday’s gold medal game.
  • The Jazz were shopping for versatility in this year’s free agent market, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. General manager Justin Zanik said that’s what the team was lacking in the playoffs, which is why it pursued Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside, while trading for Eric Paschall and rookie Jared Butler. Zanik added that he’s likely done with significant moves for the offseason, and Walden points out that means Joe Ingles will probably remain with the team.
  • The Jazz won’t have Butler as part of their Summer League squad, Walden adds. The rookie had a health issue during the pre-draft process and hasn’t been in a contact setting for a long time. Zanik said management might have let him play if the games were “10 days later,” but they opted to be safe.

Free Agency Rumors: DeRozan, Bulls, Wizards, McLaughlin, Rose, Heat

A sign-and-trade deal that sends DeMar DeRozan to the Bulls remains a possibility for the veteran free agent wing, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Chicago has previously been mentioned as a possible suitor for DeRozan, and Stein’s report suggests the team remains interested even after reaching agreements with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso.

A Monday report from Brian Windhorst of ESPN suggested that a double sign-and-trade sending DeRozan to the Bulls and Lauri Markkanen to the Spurs could be one possibility that the two sides would explore. Chicago also expiring contracts belonging to Thaddeus Young ($14.19MM) and Al-Farouq Aminu ($10.18MM), both of which would theoretically make for good salary-matching pieces.

Here are a few more rumors related to free agency:

  • As Spencer Dinwiddie and the Wizards continue to work toward a possible agreement that would land the point guard in D.C., Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says (via Twitter) that Washington has begun exploring the possibility of trading Chandler Hutchison and a second-round pick as part of a potential sign-and-trade deal for Dinwiddie.
  • Jordan McLaughlin and his camp are optimistic about reaching a new multiyear contract agreement with the Timberwolves, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (Twitter link). McLaughlin, a restricted free agent, met face-to-face with the Wolves when free agency opened on Monday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • The Knicks are expected to re-sign Derrick Rose using his Early Bird rights, which means they can keep his smaller cap hold on their books for now and then eventually go over the cap to complete his deal, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday. Popper estimates that New York could still have upwards of $9MM in cap room to work with, or even more if the team waives Luca Vildoza‘s non-guaranteed salary.
  • The Heat had interest in Rudy Gay, but weren’t going to match Utah’s two-year, $12MM offer, preferring to commit most of their mid-level to a strong defensive player in P.J. Tucker, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Jarred Vanderbilt, Jordan McLaughlin Get QOs From Wolves

The Timberwolves have made qualifying offers to Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Both players will be restricted heading into free agency.

Minnesota has full Bird rights on Vanderbilt and Early Bird rights on McLaughlin, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). The Wolves are currently $7.9MM away from the luxury tax, including a first-round hold for Leandro Bolmaro, who may join the team next season.

Vanderbilt, a 22-year-old power forward, is coming off his most productive NBA season, averaging 5.4 points and 5.8 rebounds while starting 30 of the 64 games that he played. He was acquired from the Nuggets in a four-team trade in February of 2020.

McLaughlin, a 25-year-old point guard, appeared in 51 games this season, averaging 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per night. He has been a two-way player for the Wolves the past two years.

Two-Way Players Making Bids For Promotions

Players on two-way contracts are free to appear in NBA games, but there are limitations on the amount of time they can spend with their respective NBA teams. Even in 2020/21, with those restrictions loosened a little, each two-way player can only appear in 50 of his team’s 72 games, assuming he signed before the season began.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contracts]

While 50 games should be more than enough for most teams to get through the season without maxing out the eligibility of their two-way players, some have emerged as regular rotation pieces for their respective clubs and are likely to reach the 50-game mark before season’s end, barring an injury.

In order to remove those restrictions, a team has to promote a two-way player to its 15-man roster, either converting him to a rest-of-season, minimum-salary contract or negotiating a new multiyear deal.

While it’s a little early in the 2020/21 season to determine which two-way players will ultimately end up being promoted to 15-man rosters, a handful of players on two-way deals have made strong cases for standard contracts in the early going.

Here are some of the top candidates to receive promotions among this year’s two-way players:

Jordan McLaughlin (Timberwolves)

McLaughlin spent the 2019/20 season on a two-way contract with the Timberwolves and played well enough to earn a standard deal in the offseason, having averaged 7.6 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game with a .489/.382/.667 shooting line in 30 contests (19.7 MPG).

A restricted free agent, McLaughlin reportedly received a multiyear contract offer from Minnesota, but it would’ve been a team-friendly deal that included multiple non-guaranteed years. The 24-year-old opted to bet on himself instead, playing another year on a two-way contract and hoping for a better opportunity when he returns to the free agent market in the summer of 2021.

We’ll have to wait to see whether or not that was the right call, but so far it doesn’t look like last season was a fluke. With D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio, and Anthony Edwards in the picture, there are fewer backcourt minutes to go around, but McLaughlin has played well in a limited role, with 5.5 PPG, 4.1 APG, and .455/.375/.800 shooting in 17.2 MPG (11 games).

Garrison Mathews (Wizards)

Like McLaughlin, Mathews was on a two-way contract last season and played well, but ended up having to take another two-way deal. He’s once again proving that he deserves consideration for a promotion, with 8.9 PPG and 1.4 SPG on .429/.405/.889 shooting through 10 games (19.7 MPG).

Unfortunately for Mathews, the Wizards currently have a full 15-man roster made up of mostly non-expendable players. If the team cuts recent signee Alex Len at some point or makes a trades that opens up a roster spot, that could create an opportunity for Mathews.

Yuta Watanabe (Raptors)

Invited to training camp on an Exhibit 10 contract alongside other NBA veterans like Henry Ellenson and Alize Johnson in the fall, Watanabe played his way onto the 17-man regular season roster, with the Raptors converting his non-guaranteed camp deal into a two-way contract at the end of the preseason.

Since then, Watanabe who spent the last two years on a two-way deal with the Grizzlies, has gradually been making a case for more playing time. His box-score numbers (3.9 PPG and 3.4 RPG) are modest, but he’s been hot from three-point range so far, knocking down 12-of-25 attempts (48.0%) and is providing energy and defensive itensity off the bench.

In Toronto’s last five games, Watanabe has been one of the team’s most-used bench players, logging 18.8 minutes per game and bumping his averages to 8.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG.

Since releasing Len, the Raptors have been holding an open spot on their 15-man roster. If that spot doesn’t get filled in a trade at some point in the coming weeks, Watanabe looks like the best bet to fill it before the end of the season.

Others to watch:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.