The first official domino in the Gersson Rosas era has finally fallen:
Ryan Saunders and Minnesota are nearing agreement on a multi-year deal to make him the Timberwolves coach, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 20, 2019
After two and a half seasons under the archaic Tom Thibodeau, the Minnesota Timberwolves will now pivot to a much younger, much more malleable leader on the sidelines, one who has been commended for his ability to communicate and relate to the players he oversees (while simultaneously being critiqued for his lack of experience and inability to foster real change last season).
Listen, this was hardly a shocking tweet to wake up to. It had long been rumored that Ryan was the frontrunner for this position, and despite the national search that included trendy names like Juwan Howard, David Vanterpool, and Chris Finch, anyone you talked to around the team was fairly positive that when the dust settled, Saunders would emerge as the candidate to lead this team into the future.
That last sentence (while wordy) will be the cause of much discussion not only today or this week, but quite likely for Ryan’s entire tenure as the Wolves next head coach. To some (maybe many), this latest coaching search will look like a charade — another Timberwolves window-dressing that ultimately resulted in the familiar face receiving the promotion. Glen provided the ingredients and Rosas was forced to make the meal.
That’s cool. I get that. As I’ve written countless times before, it’s not like this franchise has a long track record of superior process and/or elite decision making. Everything the Wolves do as a franchise should be questioned, should be debated, should be criticized.
However, criticizing this latest decision based on the laundry list of past mistakes and blunders isn’t something I’m personally ready to roll with. Gersson Rosas has waited his entire life for an opportunity like this, and has already shown (during his brief stint with the Dallas Mavericks) that having full autonomy to make decisions is crucial to his long-term strategy. As our own Jon Krawczynski wrote in his latest piece for The Athletic:
It’s the first major decision of new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas’s Timberwolves tenure. And it was his decision. Rosas agreed to a four-year contract for his job with no preconditions on Saunders as coach, but that doesn’t mean that Saunders didn’t start the search process with a leg up on the competition.
Again, this too will come with a cosmic wave of cynicism, and I get that. But at some point, facts are facts. The Wolves, a floundering, stumbling, discouraging franchise for as long as this 30-year old can remember, finally strung together back-to-back processes filled with qualified candidates to oversee the future of their franchise. Will either of the new hires actually work out? Will this new alignment of Rosas and Saunders finally be the pairing that can dig the Wolves out of the depths of the Western Conference? The jury is still out on that. But for now, the only tangible facts we can hold on to is that the Wolves finally, finally seemed to have come to a decision like a real professional organization. As sad as that may sound, that’s a win in itself.
We’ll have plenty more on the Ryan Saunders hiring later this week at Canis Hoopus, along with some draft coverage as the NBA offseason begins to pick up steam. Also, it should be mentioned that while the big news today is of Ryan Saunders’ promotion, Gersson Rosas wasn’t completely done with the hiring process, as he officially made his first splashy addition to the front office:
Minnesota is hiring Brooklyn’s Gianluca Pascucci has an assistant GM, league sources tell ESPN. Pascucci was the Nets Director of Global Scouting and had previously worked closely with new Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas with Houston.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 20, 2019
I know more about unicorns than I do about Gianluca Pascucci, so my analysis on this hire is
fairly extremely limited. Hiring people from smart organizations seems like a fool-proof plan, and aligns with Rosas’s vision and emphasis on scouting and player development. If you know more about Pascucci than I do (very likely), comment below with the scouting report on the Wolves new Assistant GM.