Sachin Gupta

Chris Finch Talks Gupta, Wolves Offense, Vanderbilt, Defense

Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch recently sat down for an extensive interview with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Finch and Hine engaged in some nitty-gritty conversations pertaining to the team’s plans for development on both sides of the ball, Finch’s relationship with new team president Sachin Gupta, and how power forward Jarred Vanderbilt is an under-appreciated contributor.

Under Finch, Minnesota sports a competent record of 18-25. They are currently 2-0 this year. Team stars Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell have exhibited encouraging chemistry together during this early portion of the 2021/22 NBA season.

The Timberwolves boast a 93.1 defensive rating thus far, good for the second-best in the league. Their 104.8 offensive pace ranks fifth in the NBA.

The full conversation is well worth a read, but here are some highlights from the chat:

On his time developing a relationship with Gupta with the Rockets, where Finch was an assistant coach and Gupta was a front office advisor:

“I remember the first project that (Sachin) and I ever did together. We were studying corner threes and I was looking for places on the floor where the passes came to generate the best corner threes. Some of it made sense just looking at the game, but he mapped it out. He gridified the half court and had all different color zones about the best way to create open corner threes from where you were passing on the floor.”

On how he hopes to re-tool the Timberwolves’ offensive possessions:

“I think probably develop a little bit more of a complete package for Anthony. So he’s kind of not like going through the game looking for opportunities. Maybe direct the ball more to him. Opportunities to post D’Angelo for his playmaking down there. Then continue to experiment with (Towns). Just move him around and continue to play him more like a guard as well as a big. When you have a guy like that, it’s a lot of fun.”

On how the recently re-signed Vanderbilt helps the team win, per analytics research:

“Multiple possessions guy (with offensive rebounding). So anyone who gets you multiple possessions is worth it. If you think about the average possession in the NBA, it’s worth like 1.1 points or whatever, let’s say. If you get three more possessions than your opponent, that’s about 3.5 points more. So it’s just basketball mathematics in that way. That’s one. Two is his defense, versatility on defense. So when he’s on the floor with multitude of defensive lineups, they are generally plus defensive ratings. Then, his rebounding too. He’s not only getting you extra rebounds offensively, but he’s helping a place where you’re already weak defensively. With that, it’s probably not as strong as the other two for sure. And a lot of the defensive stuff is his ability to be successful in pick and roll as a switch defender.”

On how he intends to improve the club’s defense:

“Transition, eliminate our fouling or reduce it, and rebounding. If you look at those three play types, from an offensive point of view, they’re the three most efficient play type starts. Teams that score in transition score at a higher rate. Free throws are big and then offensive rebounds. So even if we got back and we’re not a great half-court defense, but we make them play in the half court more, we’re going to win that small battle, even if they’re making shots against us. They’re not going to make shots at the rate they do in transition.”

Northwest Notes: Simons, Gupta, Towns, Krejci

No rookie scale extension is expected for Anfernee Simons before today’s deadline, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link), who says the Trail Blazers want to see more from the fourth-year guard before committing to him beyond the 2021/22 season. The club believes Simons can be more consistent and productive under new head coach Chauncey Billups, Quick adds.

Simons hit 42.6% of his three-pointers last season for the Trail Blazers, but played a fairly modest role off the bench, with 7.8 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 64 games (17.3 MPG). He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency in 2022.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune takes an in-depth look at the philosophy new Timberwolves head of basketball operations Sachin Gupta is bringing to the role. Despite not having any assurances that he’ll keep the job long-term, Gupta insists he doesn’t feel pressure to impress ownership by making a major move. “I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said. “I don’t view it as like, ‘Oh I’ve got this for a time. I’ve got to try and prove myself and I’ve got to make a splash quickly and try to save the job.'”
  • Speaking to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns compared staying in Minnesota to sticking with the Dominican Republic national team rather than reclassifying to play for Team USA. “I like taking the hard route. I like going the more rewarding route,” Towns said. “I love being with the Dominican Republic national team. There’s a lot of things they haven’t done, and I’m able to possibly change that. The challenge is what I’ve always strived for.”
  • Thunder guard Vit Krejci, who had been dealing with visa issues, has been cleared to practice and play with the team, head coach Mark Daigneault said this weekend (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Krejci is expected to spend a good chunk of time this season with the Oklahoma City Blue in the G League.

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.

Northwest Notes: Simons, SGA, Gupta, Saunders, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers have talked in the past about Anfernee Simons handling backup point guard duties behind Damian Lillard, but CJ McCollum has often played that role, with Simons spending time primarily at the two. However, new head coach Chauncey Billups seems committed to giving Simons a longer look at the point guard spot, and the 22-year-old says he intends to take “full advantage” of the opportunity, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“I want CJ and Ant to be playing some backup point guard,” Billups said. “A lot of my conversations with (Simons) is about that — him being able to play a lot of backup point guard minutes, you know, running the show.”

The Blazers will be keeping a close eye on how Simons responds to the increased responsibilities, since he’s eligible for a rookie scale extension before the regular season begins. A source tells Quick that Simons’ agent Bill Duffy and the Blazers haven’t yet engaged in discussions about a new deal, but are expected to talk closer to the October 18 deadline.

“I don’t know anything about the extension; I’m focused on the season,” Simons said. “I know it’s a big season for me. So I’m not worried about it. My priority is to go out there and play well.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Discussing his new maximum-salary contract extension, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander called the deal a “dream come true,” but views it as just one achievement to cross off on his long list of career goals, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “I still have 90% of my list, so I won’t stop,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, who added that he feels “150%” healthy after missing the end of last season with a foot injury.
  • When the Timberwolves‘ owners – Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore – spoke to reporters this week, all three stressed that Sachin Gupta is in charge of the basketball operations department and didn’t mention a looming front office search, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. While that doesn’t necessarily mean they view Gupta as the long-term solution, the timing may not be right to conduct a full-fledged search with the regular season around the corner, Krawczynski notes.
  • Former Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders is in attendance at the Nuggets‘ training camp this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. As Wolfson explains, Saunders is close with Denver head coach Michael Malone and executives Tim Connelly and Calvin Booth.

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.

Stein’s Latest: Timberwolves, Ujiri, Simmons, Lacob, Dragic

Incoming Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore won’t assume majority control of the the franchise from Glen Taylor until 2023, but they’re operating in some ways as if they’re already the team’s primary owners, says Marc Stein of Substack.

Shortly after Gersson Rosas was dismissed this week, Timberwolves reporter Dane Moore suggested (via Twitter) that rumors have circulated for months that Rodriguez and Lore want to bring in a “top-five” front office executive. Stein doesn’t specifically confirm that rumor, but he corroborates it, writing that word circulated at Summer League in August that A-Rod and Lore would have loved to make a run at veteran executive Masai Ujiri, who ultimately re-upped with the Raptors.

While those reports suggest that the Wolves’ new ownership group wants to make a splash, league sources tell Stein that Sachin Gupta is expected to get every chance to impress the team during his time running the basketball operations department. According to Moore (Twitter link), Gupta – whose title is executive VP of basketball operations – doesn’t technically have the “interim” tag attached to his position, an indication that he’ll receive serious consideration for the permanent job.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest NBA roundup:

  • According to Stein, teams around the NBA are skeptical that the Sixers genuinely want to bring back Ben Simmons, viewing Doc Riversmedia comments on Wednesday as an attempt to regain trade leverage rather than a legitimate effort to mend the team’s relationship with Simmons.
  • It may seem odd that Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined for comments about Simmons that didn’t even mention him by name and made it clear that Golden State isn’t really interested in the Sixers star. However, Stein says the tampering penalty was “as automatic as these ever get,” since there was no doubt Lacob was referring to Simmons, and his comments could be viewed as an attempt to diminish the 25-year-old’s trade value.
  • It doesn’t appear that any deal involving Goran Dragic is imminent. Stein writes that the Raptors want to be as competitive as possible this season, and Dragic can help with those efforts. Toronto also believes that more appealing trade scenarios could arise once the season gets underway and more teams need a point guard due to injuries or underperformance.

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.

Sachin Gupta Named Timberwolves’ Interim Head Of Basketball Ops

4:57pm: Gupta “will assume basketball operations oversight” while retaining his current title as executive VP, the team’s PR department tweets.


3:08pm: After parting ways with Gersson Rosas, the Timberwolves will make executive VP Sachin Gupta their new head of basketball operations, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, confirming Gupta’s promotion, tweets that the veteran executive will be the team’s head of basketball operations on an interim basis. The Wolves intend to conduct a more extensive search to identify a permanent replacement for Rosas, according to Wojnarowski.

Gupta, a veteran NBA executive who is perhaps best known for inventing ESPN’s trade machine, joined Minnesota’s front office in 2019 after serving as an assistant general manager in Detroit.

Before his stint with the Pistons, Gupta was a special advisor to then-Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who first hired him way back in 2006. Between two separate stints in Houston, Gupta also spent several years with the Sixers, working as the VP of basketball operations under Sam Hinkie.

Gupta has been Rosas’ top lieutenant in Minnesota the last two years and received serious consideration for the top front office job in Sacramento in 2020. It briefly looked like the Kings would hire Gupta, but they ultimately chose Monte McNair, resulting in Gupta sticking with the Wolves.

In the wake of Rosas’ dismissal, Gupta will be tasked with leading a Timberwolves squad that has made the postseason just once in the last 17 seasons and appears caught off guard by the front office shakeup. According to Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link), today’s news surprised several people in the organization, including players, since Rosas was still holding meetings and was in the gym this morning.

Given how highly regarded Gupta is around the NBA, he’ll likely receive consideration to hang onto the permanent job once the Wolves formally launch their search.

Timberwolves Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Towns, Gupta

Even though he’ll be a restricted free agent when the offseason arrives, Malik Beasley opted to attend the Timberwolves‘ in-market camp, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Beaskey may be risking an injury that could affect his value, but he wanted to get back on the court after six months away from organized basketball, and his decision was noticed by management.

“I’m smiling and giggling,” said president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. “Coach (Ryan Saunders) can speak to it, that’s what I love about our group. We’ve got workers. Coach and I were sitting in a meeting before this, and Beasley calls to say how much he wants to play and be here throughout it.”

Beasley, 23, is positioned for a nice raise after making an impact in 14 games since being acquired from Denver at the trade deadline. He became a starter in Minnesota and averaged 20.7 PPG while shooting 42.6% from 3-point range. The Wolves have interest in re-signing him, and his appearance seems to be an expression of loyalty.

There’s more from camp, all courtesy of Krawczynski:

  • The only notable player missing is restricted free agent Juan Hernangomez, who is filming a movie with Adam Sandler. Krawczynski notes that the acting commitment was made before the NBA finalized plans for the teams that didn’t go to Orlando.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have emerged as leaders during camp and are trying to set an example for their teammates. “D’Angelo worked out this morning at 7 a.m. Karl’s been the 6 a.m. guy in the gym,” Saunders said. “It’s good to get out there. Even though you can only do it with one player, one coach, it’s been nice for me to be able to get not hands-on, but hands-on at a safe social distance and focus on things that we feel these guys need to work on and know they need to work on to take not just their games to the next level, but take this team to the next level.” Rosas said Towns has fully recovered from a wrist injury that sidelined him for a month before the hiatus.
  • Executive vice president Sachin Gupta will remain with Minnesota after being one of the finalists for the Kings’ GM job. Gupta seemed to be the favorite earlier this week and the Wolves were preparing for him to leave, but Sacramento opted for Monte McNair instead.

Kings Rumors: McNair, Fox, Bogdanovic, Giles, More

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has long admired Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, so hiring away one of Morey’s top lieutenants – assistant GM Monte McNair – filled a “certain fixation” for Ranadive, according to Jason Jones and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

There had been a growing sense around the NBA that the Kings would pick Timberwolves executive Sachin Gupta to run their front office – Minnesota was preparing to have to replace Gupta, sources tell The Athletic – but the final selection of McNair was driven by Ranadive.

McNair’s first interview with Sacramento took place over video conference, with Ranadive and consultant Mike Forde running the meeting. The second interview occurred in person on Monday, with Joe Dumars and Ranadive’s son Aneel taking part in that session, according to The Athletic. Aneel Ranadive, a member of the Kings’ executive board, was “very involved in the process,” Jones and Amick report.

Although McNair ultimately beat out fellow finalists Gupta and Wes Wilcox, both Gupta and Wilcox made strong impressions on the franchise too. One source described Wilcox as a “sharp interview,” per The Athletic.

Here’s more on the Kings in the wake of their major front office hire:

  • Former general manager Vlade Divac believed the Kings were on the verge of becoming a playoff team, but that sentiment wasn’t shared by everyone around the league, say Jones and Amick. As such, it’s possible McNair won’t hesitate to break up the core of a roster that hasn’t yet produced a winning season.
  • According to The Athletic, Divac had been expected to offer De’Aaron Fox a maximum-salary rookie scale extension, re-sign restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic – even if meant paying $18MM-ish per year – and attempt to retain free agent big man Harry Giles despite previously turning down his team option for 2020/21. It remains to be seen whether McNair will follow a similar playbook in his first offseason with the organization.
  • The Kings have long faced criticism for not having a well-staffed front office, according to Jones and Amick, who say that McNair is expected to make more hires within the basketball operations department. Assistant GM Ken Catanella will also likely remain in his current position.