The Minnesota Timberwolves have finally selected their next President of Basketball Operations.
After approximately 30 candidates and 4 day-long interviews, the Wolves finally tabbed the former Houston Rockets executive to be the next man to lead the franchise into the most important period of their existence. With the new shot-caller finally in the building, it appears the Wolves true offseason can officially begin, which means there’s no better time to jump start the second season of “Wolves Wednesday” here at Canis Hoopus.
Over the course of the summer months, I’ll be tackling various topics related to the Wolves and their offseason — NBA Draft, free agency, acquisition of new pets, summer travel plans— you know, all of the important stuff. As the air outside gets drier in late July and August, so too will the available kahntent ideas, so if you have something you want to discuss or an idea to spark the masses, feel free to message me on Twitter.
Without further ado...
Stop and Smell the Rosas
Before I dive into my thoughts on the hiring of Gersson Rosas, let’s make one thing extremely clear: fans who have followed this franchise long enough know that Glen Taylor does not deserve any benefit of the doubt when it comes to making decisions. None. Zero. (One could actually argue that the Wolves owner deserves negative benefit of the doubt — if such a thing exists).
With that said, this latest POBO process just feels different, and much of the credit for those feelings does indeed belong to the team’s owner. As Jon Krawczynski detailed in this fantastic piece for The Athletic, Glen appears to have learned from his previous mistakes, finally deciding to empower others within the organization to be innovative and think outside the box, rather than simply scrolling down the membership roster of his beloved Country Club:
Rather than hire a search firm to give them plausible deniability, as Taylor did last time when Thibodeau was brought on, and rather than work unilaterally with Taylor to pick someone to foist upon the entire organization, as former CEO Rob Moor did when David Kahn was the pick, Casson devised an entirely different process aimed at hearing from a diverse set of voices with ties to all the different parts of the organization in order to try to find a new leader who could bring together a fractured franchise.
Jon went on to describe just who those diverse voices in the room actually were — Cheryl Reeves, Jim Petersen, Sianneh Mulbah, and Jennifer Ridgeway. In other words, rather than hiring a biased consulting firm based 3,000 miles away to select the team’s new lead decision maker, Glen (or more so Ethan Casson) placed an emphasis on including the people that truly understood the current landscape of the franchise — the most successful basketball coach to ever be on Glen’s payroll (Reeves), a local basketball icon revered for both his skill on the court as well as his dialogue off it (Petersen), and multiple minority representatives who brought a broader discussion to the table rather than simply X’s and O’s (Mulbah and Ridgeway).
This is the part to me that truly stood out. Similar to grading a team’s draft minutes after they’ve made their selections, no one following the Wolves truly knows how this Gersson Rosas hiring will actually play out.
- Is he really a brilliant basketball mind? Or was he simply an employee who shared the same business address as Daryl Morey?
- Were his ideas for team-building and player development that much stronger than Trajan Langdon’s? Or did he simply connect more with the voices in the room who represented the community and business side of the organization?
- Will Rosas actually be empowered to make the necessary changes this franchise so badly needs? Or will the man who cuts his checks continue to have final influence on things like coaching, roster management, etc.?
All of those questions will likely be address over the next handful of years as the Wolves new POBO begins to put his stamp on the franchise. But for now, the sole focus of this hire should be on what it doesn’t represent — group think, exclusivity, and an autocratic style of leadership — things that have doomed the Wolves for years.
Look, it’s damn near impossible to mess up an introductory press conference. Aside from threatening a media member or publicly discussing another team’s players, there’s very few land mines that someone can stumble upon in their first day on the job. Similar to hires of the past, Rosas came armed with his personal buzz words — alignment, flexibility, and collaboration. While these are just generic terms that don’t necessarily paint a specific picture of Rosas’s plan going forward, they do highlight his ability (and desire) to bring a more modern, organic approach to team building, rather than Stone Age references like toughness, grinding, and “do your job.”
(By the way, if you think it was an accident that Rosas’s children joined him on stage during his introductory press conference, I’ve got some land to sell you on Wiggins Island. As my good friend John Meyer pointed out on Twitter, the entire Monday press conference played out like one massive subtweet to the franchise’s past regime).
So for now, we wait. The first domino has fallen, but there are plenty more already lined up that will determine the fate of the franchise for years to come. For long-suffering Wolves fans, it’s natural to be continually pessimistic, but as my pal Mike O’Hagan alluded to yesterday, the new pairing of Casson/Rosas does seem to provide something that hasn’t existed in Minnesota for a long time: hope.
You Thibs Some, You Lue Some
Lost in all of the Rosas news this week was some other interesting Wolves-related kahntent, this time from The Athletic’s Frank Isola. While discussing the worst kept secret in The Association (Tyronn Lue becoming the next Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers), Frank casually dropped this #IceStorm:
The reports of Lue wanting to add his former colleague in Boston, Tom Thibodeau, to his coaching staff are also true. LeBron, through intermediaries, has let it be known that Thibodeau would be a huge asset to have on the bench. LeBron’s close associates were gauging Thibodeau’s interest in becoming a top assistant two weeks ago. It would be similar to the role Mike Brown and Ron Adams serve under Steve Kerr in Golden State.
Isola went on to include additional Thibs-related details, this time taking a subtle jab at Tom’s most previous employer:
Thibodeau, however, is owed a lot of money from the Minnesota Timberwolves and the feeling is that he would prefer a head coaching job. Thibodeau has the resume and income to be patient. Plus, after dealing with an unstable management group in Minnesota, Thibodeau may be taking a wait-and-see approach with the “new-look” Lakers.
As mentioned before, Glen Taylor does not deserve any benefit of the doubt whatsoever when it comes to the national media, but it’s also not lost on me how ironic it is to include the words “unstable” and “Tom Thibodeau” in the same breath.
Either way, it doesn’t look like the Wolves former POBO will be bringing any of his famous ice to the beaches of LA anytime soon. Thibs is still receiving millions of dollars from the Wolves to essentially hang out at ESPN and smile, so he’ll have plenty of time to pick his next job opportunity in the league.
Feeling a Draft?
With Gersson Rosas officially moved in to his new office (granted there was no last-minute delays with maintenance repairing a certain glass wall), it’s time to start focusing on the next major milestone in the Wolves’ offseason: the NBA Draft.
The NBA Lottery is less than a week away (Tuesday, May 14th), which means teams across the league are starting to bring players in for workouts as they begin to build their big boards. Despite the recent change in leadership, the Wolves appear to be business as usual when it comes to player workouts, having just hosted a handful of prospects on Tuesday:
Wasting no time.— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) May 7, 2019
We welcomed our first round of 2019 draft workout invitees this morning. pic.twitter.com/4tXIRJecZJ
While top prospects like Zion Williamson and Ja Morant wait to see which teams secure picks at the top of the draft, lower-tier college players like Minnesota’s own Jordan Murphy are already flying around the country in attempt to showcase their own skills before the big night on June 20th.
As draft season continues to heat up, we can expect a lot more of these workouts to take place, and it should start to paint a clearer picture of the type of players the new regime (led by Rosas) will be focused on as the end of June rapidly approaches.