In a move that seemed sudden at surface level, the Minnesota Timberwolves parted ways with president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas this week. Following Rosas’s dismissal, the club promoted EVP of Basketball Operations Sachin Gupta to the role of interim head of basketball operations.
“Today, the Minnesota Timberwolves parted ways with President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement. “As an organization, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of.”
The move seemed to come out of left field, and clearly caught Timberwolves All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns by surprise.
As it turns out, several factors led to Rosas’ dismissal as he reportedly ran a front office in Minnesota that was described as “dysfunctional” and full of tension, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania. The report adds that there was an ongoing rift between Rosas and Gupta after Rosas blocked a lateral move to the Houston Rockets with increased pay ahead of the draft this summer. Additionally, other rival executives and agents didn’t appreciate his negotiation tactics. From the Athletic:
Ownership has listened to a vocal contingent of staffers express concern about the way Rosas conducted his business, sources told The Athletic, and finally came to the conclusion that they could not wait any longer to address the situation… Rosas’ reign was described as dysfunctional, with tension rippling through the front office, according to some sources.
Outside of it, rival team executives and agents would complain about how Rosas treated relationships and negotiations. The complaints reached as high as the ownership level over the last several weeks, lending a perception of inevitability to the end of Rosas’ tenure… Over Rosas’ two seasons in Minnesota, several player agents privately had issues with his negotiating tactics. Rosas had a responsibility to his organization and ownership, but scenarios would arise where representatives expected better treatment. Just this offseason, Rosas reneged during negotiations with restricted free agent Jordan McLaughlin and misled him about his role, according to a source directly involved in the talks.
Cultivating and maintaining relationships is a major aspect of working in an NBA front office, and it sure sounds like Rosas had some struggles in that area. Despite the behind-the-scenes issues, the timing of his dismissal seemed a bit odd, as the 2021 NBA Draft and free agency have already passed, and the start of the regular season is now just weeks away. It’s easy to imagine that if the Wolves were interested in making such a major move, they would have wanted to have done it prior to the draft and free agency so that the new front office would have control over personnel decisions.
As it turns out, the Wolves recently found out that Rosas had a consensual relationship with a team staff member and the two were recently spotted in a suite during a Minnesota United FC game at Allianz Field, according to Jake FIscher of Bleacher Report. The relationship made other members of the organization uncomfortable, and though it wasn’t the sole impetus for the firing, it did have an impact on the timing in which a move was made. From The Athletic:
In recent days, the organization discovered that Rosas, who is married, had a consensual intimate relationship with a member of the organization, The Athletic has learned from multiple sources. It made several people within the organization uncomfortable, sources said. While this was not the reason for Rosas’ dismissal, it certainly impacted the timing.
There were also other factors. Some team staffers were unhappy with how former head coach Ryan Saunders was fired and immediately replaced with an outside hire in Chris Finch last season. Some also weren’t happy with the dismissal of longtime scout Zarko Durisic The team’s performance must also be factored in. The Timberwolves went 42-94 and finished 14th and 13th in the Western Conference during Rosas’ two seasons in charge, and while they have some real talent on the roster, they remain far from true contention as currently constructed.
When you factor in all of the drama going on behind the scenes, combined with the team’s underwhelming on-court performance, Minnesota’s logic in moving on from Rosas becomes clearer.