Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas knows this has been a franchise-altering offseason, even though those changes haven’t necessarily been on the court.
All-Star forward Karl-Anthony Towns suffered an incredible loss when his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, died from the coronavirus in April. And Towns and several teammates were front-and-center in the calls for justice following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Rosas said that he and coach Ryan Saunders have tried their best to be there for Towns and the team.
“It has been a tragic, tragic period in Karl’s life, not only with what everybody in the world is facing but when it hits home and it results in the death of his mother, it has been very tragic,” Rosas said. “Myself, Coach, the organization, we have regular communication with Karl and his family. We want to make sure that we’re there for them every step of the way. We have structures in place, even though we’re not together right now, to check on not only Karl but all of our players.
“He has spent the majority of his time here in Minneapolis, which has been great. We’ve had a chance to meet with him and his family, safely, through this process and just continue to support him. Everybody handles losses differently, and this is a major loss for him and his family. But he is a special individual with an incredible heart. He has a special family. And they are getting through it together. We’re fortunate because of who he is and the character he has and we’re doing everything we can to support him and his family.”
Support hard conversations
There was no way to prepare for what happened around the world and here in the Twin Cities earlier this year, but the fact that Rosas had completely rebuilt the Wolves roster with major midseason trades to bring in players such as D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez to join core players Towns, Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver meant this club is growing together in a unique situation.
“What we’re about, it’s about empowering these guys to be not only the best players they can be but the best people they can be,” Rosas said. “This window allowed us to do that, to support the conversations, the hard conversations that needed to be had and to support impactful and sustainable change.
“It’s never easy. These situations, you don’t want to pick them, they unfortunately pick you. We have gone through a lot here in Minnesota in a short period of time, but it speaks to our guys and how they responded, which is exciting for our future as an organization.”
Life outside the bubble
One thing that Rosas didn’t sugarcoat was the disappointment the team had in not being allowed to participate in the NBA bubble in Orlando. He said the league will make it right.
“I think the league recognizes our need to be able to have an extended runway as we work during the offseason and prepare for next season. I have been very vocal about it. [Owner] Glen [Taylor] has been very vocal about it. And the league has been receptive,” Rosas said. “The reality is the bubble was the first priority now we’re working, along with the other seven teams that are not in Orlando, we’re working together to get the safest, healthiest and most effective platform to get our guys back to training, working and playing.”
Rosas did say Commissioner Adam Silver and his staff deserve a lot of credit for how great the NBA product has been at Disney World and for creating a healthy work environment. The NBA has yet to have a player test positive for coronavirus there.
“Especially as you look at other sports, it’s powerful with everything that’s going on in sports now and some of the struggles of reality in terms of creating a platform where you can be healthy and you can do the things that are being able to be done in Orlando right now. It’s a major compliment to not only Adam and his team but the league,” Rosas said. “To see it not only work but to excel with where the game is at, the quality of play, health, the players, the quality of the product, that is something that is critical for the success of our future.”
Understands Taylor’s sale
For a franchise that has dealt with incredible ups and downs, this offseason has been one of a kind, and that includes the news that Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, is heavily considering selling the team. Rosas said he has no doubts Taylor will find the right buyer.
“To be fair, you have to understand Glen’s tenure and the stage that he is at in his personal life and in his family life,” Rosas said. “We all know this is part of the business. Glen has been unbelievable to me, to my family and to this organization during his time of ownership. But it’s not realistic to think that he’s going to be the owner forever. He has been very great, very supportive, very transparent through this process. I was aware and I knew this was something that he was working on.
“I know he’s doing everything he can to make sure that this organization moves forward and that we have the right ownership and the resources to be successful moving forward.”
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• Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck on how the team is working out with the season postponed indefinitely: “If you come over to our facility, no, practice doesn’t look like practice. We’re doing an equipment tryout phase right now, but there’s walk-throughs, position meetings, there’s fundamentals. There’s camaraderie and practicing.”
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