The perennial upheaval that has been a hallmark of the Timberwolves franchise struck again Wednesday when the team fired President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas only a few days before training camp begins.
Sachin Gupta will assume day-to-day operations on the basketball side while keeping his title as executive vice president of basketball operations. The team, which gave no reason for the sudden dismissal, will hold a search for a permanent replacement for Rosas.
"Today, the Minnesota Timberwolves parted ways with President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas," owner Glen Taylor said through a team-issued statement. "As an organization, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of."
Taylor made the call to fire Rosas, sources close to the team said, in conjunction with new owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who are on a path to become controlling owners in 2023.
"We are committed to staying aligned to achieve our short-term goals and reach our long-term vision," Taylor wrote.
Throughout the past few months there has been growing discord and strained relationships among Rosas, the front office and the rest of the organization, sources said. Sources also said Rosas' recent actions involving a female employee of the team played a role in the decision and the timing of it. The woman is no longer with the team as of Wednesday.
Taylor and Rosas did not return messages left Wednesday by the Star Tribune.
Other parts of the organization got a sense for how the culture on the basketball side was deteriorating at Summer League in Las Vegas last month, and that continued over the past few weeks, sources said. Rosas' attitude toward staff and ways of conducting business contributed to a morose atmosphere around the organization.
The move, however, took many by surprise, including star center Karl-Anthony Towns, who tweeted a statement to that effect.
Rosas' permanent successor will be the fifth person in charge of basketball operations since Kevin McHale left the franchise in 2009.
In 32 seasons, the Timberwolves have made the playoffs only nine times, including a stretch of eight in a row from 1997-2004 where they made a first-round exit seven times. Their overall winning percentage is .394, worst among current NBA franchises.
Players report for training camp Monday.
Rosas was president of basketball operations for a little more than two years, and during his tenure made several trades that reshaped the roster from the day he took over. Among his notable moves were trading for D'Angelo Russell from Golden State for Andrew Wiggins and a first-round pick, and drafting Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick in 2020. Rosas remade the roster during his first season, keeping only Towns and Josh Okogie from the roster he inherited.
A multi-team trade that involved Robert Covington netted the Wolves Malik Beasley and a first-round pick that eventually, through other trades, became Jaden McDaniels and Leandro Bolmaro, who recently signed. The Wolves had a large news conference last week to introduce Bolmaro and other new acquisitions that was hosted by an upbeat Rosas.
Rosas traded his first draft pick, Jarrett Culver, to Memphis this offseason after Culver didn't click in Minnesota. His second draft class included Edwards, who finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, and McDaniels, a promising young player who was starting by the end of the season thanks to his defensive prowess.
After hiring Ryan Saunders to be permanent head coach, Rosas fired Saunders in February during his second full season as coach and hired Chris Finch, who was then the associate head coach of the Raptors. Finch remains the coach.
When Rosas arrived in Minnesota he preached wanting to build a positive, team-friendly culture. Behind the scenes, however, there was tension that kept building through the past few months, sources said. For instance, Rosas' inability to come to a new contract with beloved longtime scout Zarko Durisic in July was a significant jolt to morale around the organization, sources said.
The Wolves were set to open camp Monday and have long been rumored to desire 76ers guard Ben Simmons. It's unclear how Rosas' dismissal will affect that situation.
The day-to-day operations turn to Gupta, who joined the Wolves as Rosas' No. 2 in 2019 from the Detroit Pistons, where he was an assistant GM. He worked with Rosas when both were with the Houston Rockets, and also spent time in the 76ers organization. He has a strong analytics background (he went to MIT and Stanford) and was one of the designers of ESPN's popular trade machine.
He will be the first person of Indian descent to run an NBA team. Gupta was a finalist for the Kings opening that went to Monte McNair prior to last season.
Other names that could surface as candidates in the search for a new president include 76ers General Manager Elton Brand and Nuggets General Manager Calvin Booth, who interviewed for the job when Rosas got it.