Why the Timberwolves fired top boss Gersson Rosas

The Minnesota Timberwolves stunned the NBA on Wednesday by announcing the dismissal of President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. Rosas had only been on the job for two seasons and never really got to put his full imprint on the team. The timing of the move made it even more perplexing. Why would the Wolves make this decision weeks after the draft and free agency and just before the start of the new season?

The Wolves had the third fewest wins in the NBA over Rosas’ two seasons at 42-94. Of course, the Wolves have been a perennial loser since long before Rosas was hired, with only one playoff appearance since the start of the 2004-2005 season. His personnel moves looked like a mixed bag thus far: he appears to have made a nice choice with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft with Anthony Edwards (fellow first rounder Jaden McDaniels looks like a steal, too), but his bold trade for D’Angelo Russell was widely panned at the time and hasn’t worked out yet.

Beyond the on-court performance, the Wolves are also set for an ownership transition two years from now, with Alex Rodriguez (yes, that one) and tech guy Marc Lore purchasing the team. In the immediate term, there were plenty of rumors connecting the Wolves to Ben Simmons, the polarizing All-Star forward who is currently trying to force his way out of from the Philadelphia 76ers.

According to a new report from Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic, there is more to the dismissal of Rosas than meets the eye. The Athletic detailed tension throughout the front office, including Rosas blocking Executive Vice President Sachin Gupta from a lateral move for more money from the Houston Rockets. Rosas told The Athletic that he blocked Gupta request because of its timing and also his knowledge of the Wolves’ long-term plans. The Wolves, of course, didn’t have a draft pick after sending their No. 7 overall selection to the Warriors for Russell.

Rosas also alienated some people when he fired head coach Ryan Saunders in the middle of the season, and replaced him with Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch without conducting a true coaching search. Rosas drew criticism for failing to even interview minority candidates for the position.

The Athletic also confirmed internet speculation that Rosas was having an affair with a member of the organization. A Twitter user alleged that he heard about the affair, and while The Athletic didn’t verify every detail, it appears the Twitter user had the main issue correct. Here’s what The Athletic’s report said:

But why now? 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.

Rosas clearly did not create a working environment that the rest of the organization felt good about. The decision to fire him makes more sense after these details emerged, but the timing was still shocking to see when it happened. Here’s what Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns tweeted when the news became official earlier in the afternoon.

The Wolves are in for a pivotal season. Towns has three seasons left on his contract. Russell has plenty to prove after injuries slowed him down last year. Edwards could be a star in the making, but Minnesota needs to provide him with the right developmental infrastructure. The Wolves have to win more games this year, whether they swing another big trade for Simmons or not.

Does the firing of Rosas make the Wolves less likely to trade for Simmons? Perhaps. This was already going to be a pressure-filled season in Minnesota, and now the circumstances around it just got a lot weirder.

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