Timberwolves fire basketball ops boss Rosas after 2 seasons
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves fired president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas on Wednesday, less than a week before training camp in yet another change in leadership for this long-languishing franchise.
Owner Glen Taylor announced that the Timberwolves “parted ways” with Rosas in a two-sentence statement that revealed no direct explanation for the dismissal after just two seasons.
“As an organization, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of,” said Taylor, who has begun the process of selling his majority stake in the club to e-commerce mogul Marc Lore and former baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
Executive vice president Sachin Gupta was temporarily elevated to guide the basketball operations, Taylor confirmed in a separate announcement made about 2 1/2 hours later.
“We are committed to staying aligned to achieve our short-term goals and reach our long-term vision,” Taylor said.
Star center Karl-Anthony Towns appeared to be caught off guard by the decision, tweeting out a three-letter acronym for a profane expression of confusion.
Rosas became the highest-ranking Latino in an NBA front office when he was hired in May 2019 after a long tenure with the Houston Rockets. Rosas replaced Tom Thibodeau, who held the dual role of head coach and president of basketball operations until his firing by the Timberwolves four months earlier.
Thibodeau’s successor on the bench was Ryan Saunders, who was initially retained by Rosas but fired in February after 137 games on the job. Rosas took the unusual tack of hiring Chris Finch off the staff of the Toronto Raptors and making him the immediate midseason replacement.
The move drew criticism from players around the league stumping for assistant David Vanterpool and a rebuke from the National Basketball Coaches Association for rushing the process at the expense of a thorough search to maximize the opportunity for minority candidates.
This summer, Rosas ran afoul of the Spanish Basketball Federation for barring forward Juancho Hernangómez from playing for his native country at the Olympics because of a shoulder injury he’d been rehabilitating from. The national team said it was led to believe Hernangómez would be allowed to play, only to find out after he’d flown to Tokyo that Rosas said no.
Hernangómez was traded with guard Jarrett Culver last month to the Memphis Grizzlies for guard Patrick Beverley.
The Timberwolves have made the playoffs once in the last 17 years, under Thibodeau in 2018. Pressure to win was mounting on Rosas, who drastically remade the roster in 28-plus months in Minnesota.
Culver was his first draft pick, the No. 6 selection made by the Phoenix Suns for the Timberwolves and packaged in a trade for the No. 11 choice and forward Dario Saric. The Texas Tech product never found a fit and averaged 20.7 minutes and 7.8 points in two seasons.
The headliner deal that Rosas orchestrated in February 2020 was to fetch guard D’Angelo Russell, a close friend of and on-court complement to Towns. Russell and Towns missed long stretches of last season as the Timberwolves finished 23-49. The best development was the play of rookie Anthony Edwards, the electric guard taken with the No. 1 pick last November.
Gupta was hired by Rosas after stints in the front office with the Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers and Houston Rockets. With degrees from MIT and Stanford, Gupta is an analytics ace who began his career at ESPN, where he developed the popular website feature known as the “ NBA Trade Machine ” that calculates the salary cap ramifications of any potential deal that a fan wants to plug in.
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