MINNEAPOLIS – The Wolves introduced Gersson Rosas as the team’s new President of Basketball Operations on Monday morning at Target Center.
The new era of Wolves basketball was ushered in as Rosas took the stage in the lobby of Target Center as he was flanked by Wolves owner Glen Taylor and CEO Ethan Casson. The made-for-TV press conference that was put on by the Wolves showed the franchise headed in a new direction, and almost an opposite one than that of Rosas’ predecessor, Tom Thibodeau.
Rosas spoke of the Wolves doing things a different way. This has been a franchise that for so long hasn’t thought outside of the box. That’s something that is seemingly going to change. Given the way the Houston Rockets operate, that feels like a safe bet.
“I want to make it clear, my time in Houston was very special, but this is not going to be Houston North,” Rosas said. “This is going to be about Minnesota and we’re going to build our own identity and we’re going to build our own organism.”
What Houston has done is something that won’t exactly be replicated. The Rockets went from a 56-win No. 2 seed in 2015 to a true championship contender in just three seasons, all without dropping below the .500 mark for a season. They did things differently than a team typically does in a rebuilding process. The Rockets relied on player development and creativity to become what they are today. The Wolves will have to do much of the same.
“One thing I’ll bring from Houston is we’re going to question the norm with everything that we do,” Rosas said. “We’re going to be very creative. I think you’re gonna see a different tone from this administration and part of it is gonna be we have to maximize every resource — draft, free agency, trades, what we have on the roster in terms of player development. We have to be creative. Being in the West, competing at this high level, there are smart organizations all over the NBA. We have to set ourselves apart by creating the most talented roster we could put together.”
Questioning the norm, as Rosas puts it, is something that hasn’t really been done in Minnesota previously. The Wolves have taken a very traditional approach to things in the history of the franchise. None more evident than the Thibodeau era, which may have been the most traditional thing of them all. There’s little that’s traditional about this.
Questioning the norm hasn’t gotten the Rockets a championship – yet – but it’s gotten them far closer than the Wolves have ever been.
One of the things that has been questioned repeatedly over the past couple of seasons has been the play of Andrew Wiggins. He’s been overpaid and underperforming for much of his career, and if he doesn’t figure it out in anyway, the Wolves will have to get even more creative. Getting creative may be exactly what the franchise needs in order to get the most out of him.
“I know what his impact could be,” Rosas said. “I’m going to invest every resource I can to help Andrew be successful. Because the reality is that a player at that level, with that talent, in the right system, playing the right way is something that is very important.”
Wiggins’ game has been an inefficient one that would’ve sufficed in a different era, but not this one. Maybe a force of change in playing style will happen, and maybe that will unlock Wiggins and turn him into something close to the player many expected him to be. The Wolves are going to continue to invest in his development, both because they haven’t yet done it properly and because there isn’t really another choice.
The other big question surrounding the franchise at this moment is who the coach will be. Ryan Saunders held the capacity in an interim capacity following the dismissal of Tom Thibodeau and did so admirably. Rosas was asked about it during the made-for-TV portion of the day and responded in a very noncommittal way.
“That’s one thing that I do want to make a point. I’ve been in the process where I’ve been in an organization where there’s been change in the middle of the season. I’m very sympathetic to the group here and it’s very important to me. From the day that Glen gave me the responsibility to evaluate the organization from top to bottom my focus has been to find partners throughout the organization that can work together so I can put them in a position to be successful so they can put us in a position to be successful. The head coaching position is a critical part of that. I’m doing my due diligence. I think Ryan and Scott have done a very commendable considering everything that happened this season. I look forward now to sitting down and visiting with them and talking about the organization. That’s a major objective we want to address here sooner rather than later.”
Saunders was in attendance on Monday morning, as was general manager Scott Layden. Neither of their futures have been decided yet, but that’s something that needs to be settled soon. The Wolves cannot afford to screw up those decisions. They’re in a difficult situation as is, making correct choices in every facet of the operation is paramount from this point on.
On Monday Rosas said some things that were really refreshing. He spoke optimistically about the way this organization can be turned from a team that’s perennially in the middle-of-the-pack to one that’s vying for championships. But words alone won’t do that. Speaking about challenging the norm, player development, and tangible changes only go so far. The Wolves need to make real changes – not just talk about them – in order to be successful.
“You guys are gonna hear it from me consistently — it’s action over words,” Rosas said. “I can tell you everything you wanna hear right now, but from our start, how we practice, how we play, how we put the roster together. Individual workouts. Player wellness. It’s gonna be different.
“We want tangible change. We’re gonna focus on the process, we hope the results will come sooner rather than later. But there’s gonna be an impact in how we play, and how the market feels us.”
The tangible change is something the organization desperately needs, and something that seems to be on the horizon. On Monday it was talked about, but in the future, it must be more about the action than the words.