On Monday the Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly wrapped up their initial round of interviews for the President of Basketball Operations vacancy. There were four candidates that interviewed with the Wolves – after LA’s Michael Winger pulled out prior to interviews starting.
Each of the four candidates brings something different to the table. They all have different strengths, and weaknesses.
The most likely scenario is that Minnesota hires one of these four men to run its basketball operations, and here’s our power rankings of the candidates based on what we know right now about each of them.
1. Trajan Langdon
Langdon may not be the guy with the most experience, but he’s the guy with experience in one of the most creative turnarounds in recent memory. The Nets were in the basement of the NBA a few short years ago with no light at the end of the tunnel. General manager Sean Marks and Langdon have done a terrific job of turning the Nets around by using smart, creative moves despite a lack of assets to make things happen.
The player development and scouting were strengths of Brooklyn’s return to relevancy. While it’s fair to question how much player development has to do with a front office, the ability to find the players that were developed is a big win, too. Langdon’s history as a scout with San Antonio is a plus here. It’s also worth noting that current Wolves general manager Scott Layden was in San Antonio for much of the same period as Langdon.
2. Gersson Rosas
Rosas has spent most of the last 16 seasons in Houston, with the exception of three months in 2013 when he was with the Mavericks in Dallas. He later returned to the Rockets to the role that he currently resides in.
The Rockets have been on the forefront of the basketball analytics revolution with Daryl Morey in charge, and Rosas has been there for most it. Houston has challenged the math of basketball, prioritizing getting to the free throw line, corner 3-pointers, and all but eliminating midrange jump shots. There’s no way to be sure that would work in Minnesota, but it might be worth the try. If nothing else, he’s spent most of his career around some of the smartest minds in basketball.
3. Calvin Booth
Booth is the first member of this list that has legitimate ties to the Minnesota Timberwolves as an organization, not just a specific person or two inside of it. He has spent time with the Wolves both as a player and a member of their front office, serving four years in various positions including a scout, director of player programs, and then finally director of player personnel. He’s since been the assistant general manager of the Nuggets after taking that position in August of 2017.
The way Denver has built is an avenue that the Wolves will most likely need to turn to, in terms of drafting well and developing that talent. Most key players of their current Western Conference playoff team are homegrown, undervalued guys that have been turned into a cohesive, talented group. It’s interesting to think of how much Booth has played into that, with most key players outdating him in the organization. Although contributors Monte Morris and Torrey Craig don’t.
Booth’s experience is enticing, and it might be a hard thing for the organization to pass on ‘one of their own.’ He wouldn’t be a bad choice for the job by any stretch of the imagination, but he just might not be the best one.
4. Chauncey Billups
Billups is just like Booth in the sense that he has a connection to the Wolves as an organization. He spent two seasons with the Wolves early in his career before becoming an all-star in Detroit and Denver. Since his career ended he’s been mostly doing television work for ESPN.
Billups has been thought of for front office openings in the past. He was connected to an opening in Detroit and was a finalist for Cleveland’s general manager vacancy following the 2017 season, but neither of those situations worked out.
He has said before that he wants to run a team one day, but the big question here is can the Wolves afford to trust a guy with zero front office experience to make decisions at such a critical time in the franchise’s history? The clock will begin to tick on Karl-Anthony Towns next season as his extension kicks in, and getting this process right is paramount to the Wolves not wasting Towns’ career in Minnesota.
Billups very well may get his opportunity to run a team one day, but the Wolves giving him that chance right now may not be the right move.