To enter the next chapter of their history, the Timberwolves are handing the keys of the franchise to someone from one of the most forward-thinking franchises in the NBA.
The team will hire Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas as its next president of basketball operations, a source confirmed Wednesday. Rosas earned the job at the end of a process that began the final day of the regular season, when owner Glen Taylor announced the team would hire for that position, and continued through interviews with four candidates over the past nine days.
Rosas, who was in his 16th season with Houston, beat out three other candidates the Wolves interviewed, including two who had previous ties to the organization.
Among those the Wolves considered were Calvin Booth, Denver’s assistant general manager who previously worked with the Wolves for four seasons and was director of pro personnel before leaving for Denver in 2017; Chauncey Billups, now an ESPN analyst who played two of his 17 NBA seasons in Minnesota; and Trajan Langdon, Nets assistant general manager.
Taylor empowered Wolves CEO Ethan Casson to lead the search. Casson brought in the candidates with Taylor making the final decision.
Rosas has helped shape the Rockets into a perennial playoff team and championship contender in the Western Conference thanks in part to the team’s focus on analytics and player development. It was the latter area where Rosas made his mark within Houston’s organization.
Rosas helped mold the Rockets scouting staff at the college and professional levels. Rosas has also done scouting work for USA Basketball. In 2013, he accepted a job as general manager with the Mavericks but resigned and returned to Houston after three months when he didn’t get as much control over Dallas’ basketball operations as he wanted.
He worked hand-in-hand with Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, who overhauled the team’s approach on the court to center its offense around the three-pointer. For three consecutive seasons, the Rockets took the most three-pointers of any NBA team.
Rosas is a native of Bogota, Colombia and will become the NBA’s lone Latino top executive. He told ESPN in March he wished there were more Latino people in positions of power within the NBA.
“There’s not a lot of Latinos in executive positions or in front offices,” Rosas said. “And, hopefully, that number will grow. That’s one of the things that is important to me. … I want to see Latinos in every part of the NBA: on the front-office side, on the coaching side, on the playing side, on the corporate side. And to know that I can motivate someone or give someone the hope that they can do it — if I can do it, they can do it — it’s very special to me.”
He did not know English before coming to America. He played basketball in high school, and it was then he figured out he wanted to be a general manager of an NBA team.
But Rosas will be the Wolves’ president and have control over all operations on the basketball side. Among his first orders of business will be deciding on the futures of current General Manager Scott Layden and interim coach Ryan Saunders, who both have good relationships with Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune.
Then there are decisions of personnel, including Andrew Wiggins, who has four years remaining on a maximum contract he signed in 2017. The Wolves already have at least $109 million committed to eight players next season with the salary cap expected to be $109 million.