The single most important part of this offseason in Minnesota is what Glen Taylor and Ethan Casson decide to do with their next President of Basketball Operations. You can make arguments for the draft or what they do at head coach, but the POBO makes those decisions (usually). We’ve heard rumors fly from everyone from Woj to big Jonny K (Jon Krawczynski) of the Athletic. Jon did a great job outlining what each of the candidates could mean for the Wolves here.
Anyways, the field has dwindled down to a final four. It looked like it would be a final five, but Michael Winger of the Clippers pulled out of the race last minute. This wasn’t a great look for the Wolves initially, but it’s been made clear that Steve Ballmer was going to do whatever it took to retain Winger in Los Angeles.
So, if you’ll notice above, one of the names on this list of final candidates is not like the others. Our very own Kyle Theige pointed this out right away.
In terms of the #Wolves POBO opening, one of these things is NOT like the other:— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) April 19, 2019
- Calvin Booth (Nuggets Asst. GM)
- Michael Winger (Clippers GM)
- Gersson Rosas (Rockets VP)
- Chauncey Billups (TV Analyst)
Without going into too much detail, I think that really is all that needs to be said about Chauncey. He’s an ex-player (obviously), who has had his name and face on television a lot recently. This makes him a “sexy” name in some circles. I’ve been glad to see that #WolvesTwitter seems to be in agreement that we’d all prefer literally anyone other than Chauncey.
This is meant to be no disrespect to Mr. Big Shot, he just hasn’t really given any compelling reason as to why he deserves to be a front office executive. Maybe someday he will be, but just thrusting a former player turned T.V. personality into a volatile front office position is a dangerous risk to take. Quite simply, this:
As Magic Johnson taught us, the POBO gig is not an honorary title, it’s quite possibly the single most important job for a NBA franchise.— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) April 23, 2019
With that said, I won’t pretend to know which #Wolves candidate is the best, I just want the guy who will grind the hardest.
Many of you may remember Calvin Booth as the NBA journeyman out of Penn State in the early 2000s, but he is now the Assistant GM of the Denver Nuggets. Booth has spent some time in the Timberwolves’ organization in the past, at one point becoming the Director of Player Personnel. In 2017, he joined Denver.
It’s hard to know what amount of the Nuggets success to give to Booth. Denver has done a masterful job of building their team without many high draft picks. That’s ridiculously hard to do in today’s NBA.
In all honesty, I feel slightly prejudice towards Booth solely because he has ties to the Timberwolves organization already. He could very well be the best option available. He has experience, likely is a good communicator with players, and has been a part of building a really damn good team. If he’s the best candidate, give him the job. It wouldn’t hurt, though, to branch outside of the “Country Club” that Glen Taylor has created and get some new ideas flowing through the building.
Langdon, the Assistant GM of the Brooklyn Nets, is an extremely appealing option for the Timberwolves. I mean, just look at what the Nets have built with literally zero assets. Langdon, Booth, and Rosas are all the “right-hand-man” so again, it’s hard to know how much their individual work contributed to the team success. Langdon is really the test case for how much you care about being apart of strong organizations with good cultures against how much you care about specific results or accomplishments.
For example, Langdon broke onto the front office scene as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-2015. It is hard to doubt how valuable that experience as a scout was for Langdon, considering how outstanding of an organization San Antonio is. However, when you look at the Spurs’ drafts during that time period, the results are not very inspiring.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the Spurs weren’t exactly blessed with the top picks in any of these drafts. Additionally, it’s not like Langdon was the sole scout on this team, and he definitely wasn’t the one making the final decisions on who to draft. With that being said, that list consists of one NBA caliber rotation player (Kyle Anderson) in 7 tries. That’s not great.
Personally, I’m willing to look past the poor draft picks and focus more on the kinds of people he was around. Spending four years with R.C. Buford and Greg Popovich is never a bad thing.
In Brooklyn, it appears like the process and knowledge Langdon picked up in San Antonio produced better results. Again, he’s not the head shot-caller as Assistant GM, but it’s fair to assume that one of his main responsibilities still had to do with scouting since that was what got him his first job anyways.
That looks a little better! Finding players like Jarrett Allen and Rodions Kurucs at the end of the first-round is really good! Kuzma was actually selected by the Lakers via trade, so that’s why he isn’t included in that list. Anyways, that’s a much better sign. Add in the trades for D’Angelo Russell and Caris Levert as well as the signing of Spencer Dinwiddie, and there are tangible results to point to in favor of Langdon.
Rosas, the Rockets Executive Vice President, is the most intriguing option, in my opinion. You can love the Rockets, hate the Rockets, or anything in between. What you cannot deny, however, is that they are one of the most well run organizations in the league, if not the very best. They’ve won 50 games in five of the past six seasons, and have been to the Western Conference Finals twice in the same span. That doesn’t happen without an elite front office.
Rosas is largely lauded for his work as an international scout (see: Clint Capela, Nikola Mirotic), as well as his work within the movement to prioritize analytics. Those sound like a few areas the Wolves could specifically use his expertise. I mean, honestly, if the new POBO’s only accomplishment was that they got the Wolves to shoot more threes, while giving up less threes, that’s a freaking home run.
Lastly, he has experience in the exact type of situation the Wolves should be trying to build in Minneapolis. Daryl Morey is widely considered to be the best GM in basketball, or at the very least one of the few best. Why is he viewed this way? Well, at the end of the day, most of it has to do with the synergy between Morey and coach Mike D’Antoni. Morey and the Rockets entire staff scout to find players that fit what MDA wants to do on the court. That’s huge.
Beyond that, Rosas should have learned how to take calculated risks from Morey. Did the Rockets potentially get lucky with how James Harden and Clint Capela turned out? Did they get kind of lucky that they were able to work out a sign-and-trade for Chris Paul? I mean, I guess so, but you also create your own luck. Rosas bringing that aggressive mentality that is willing to take calculated risks would be huge. There’s always the chance that Morey really is just that good of an executive on his own, but Rosas is so widely respected around the league that he seems like the hire with the potential to raise the Timberwolves’ ceiling by the largest margin.
Overall, all four of the candidates would bring something a little different to the table. Billups’ biggest strength would be his ability to communicate with players, which the franchise could certainly use. He just doesn’t have the front office resume that would make me comfortable handing him the keys to the franchise. Booth would also likely be a good communicator, and he’s been apart of a winning franchise over the past few years. His ties to the franchise in the past give me pause. Langdon has been apart of the best organization in the sport as well as an organization that has built itself into a playoff contender from nothing. Rosas brings a blend of experience, international acumen, and knowledge of how to use analytics effectively.
In the end, the decision is Taylor’s. As the team pays the final years of Tom Thibodeau’s contract, Taylor will surely look to save a buck or two. Rosas would be the guy, in my opinion, but what do I know. It feels like we’re really all in a spot where, “Anybody but Chauncey” would feel like a win. Then again, if that’s really the case, we know exactly who’s going to get the job, don’t we?