On Tuesday afternoon a pair of names surfaced as candidates for the vacant President of Basketball Operations position with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves have had searches like this one before, but this one seems to be getting off to a better start than the previous ones.
Way back when, the Wolves leaned upon the help of then-NBA Commissioner David Stern before hiring David Kahn. A few years back when Tom Thibodeau was given the job, owner Glen Taylor employed a search firm to help find the qualified candidates.
This time, the Wolves aren’t using outside help to make the hire, and things are seemingly going to right way. At least that’s what early indications are showing.
The names that popped up on Tuesday that should pique the interest of fans are Michael Winger, currently of the LA Clippers and Gersson Rosas, currently of the Houston Rockets. The Wolves received permission to speak with both of them about their opening, according to ESPN and The Houston Chronicle, respectively. The other name mentioned on Tuesday was Denver’s Calvin Booth. Booth has been with Denver since 2017 after spending a few years as a member of the Wolves front office.
The search is far from complete, and this might be putting the cart before the horse a tad, but the Wolves have operated in a very competent manner so far during this search. That hasn’t always been the case, and the results have showed.
The reason the Wolves are in the messy situation they currently find themselves in is because of past missteps. The hiring of Kahn was a disaster. The hiring of Thibodeau and his subsequent attempt to speed up the opening of a competitive window – and his recklessness in handing out monster contracts – have set the Wolves back to where they’re at today.
Making a hire for this position isn’t an easy thing. Plenty of teams – just like the Wolves – have made catastrophic hires in the past that can take years to fix. There’s no promising that hiring one of these candidates would right the ship. That can’t be determined until years from now.
Winger has been an integral part of one of the smarter front offices in basketball. The Clippers have built up to a playoff team – while maintaining tons of cap space – despite the fact that they’ve dealt their best player three different times since the end of the 2017 playoffs.
First, they traded Chris Paul to Houston after Paul orchestrated a pseudo sign-and-trade. That move netted the Clippers Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Patrick Beverly as well as a bevy of non-guaranteed contracts that could be waived for cap space.
Next up, Blake Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjonavic, Avery Bradley, a first-round draft pick, and a second-round draft pick.
Finally, the Clippers turned around and dealt both Harris and Marjonavic to the Philadelphia 76ers for Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala (later flipped to the Lakers) and a pair of first-round draft picks.
These moves set the Clippers up for tons of future success. They’ll have the ability to potentially add a max-level free agent this summer – Kawhi Leonard comes to mind – to an already good young core. They also have numerous first-round picks to potentially acquire another star via trade. There aren’t many situations in the NBA more enviable than the Clippers at the moment.
One situation that might be more enviable is that of the Rockets. Houston is one of a very small number of teams this season – and last – that has a chance to win the title. Last season, the Rockets took Golden State to seven games in the Western Conference Finals. This year, it took the Rockets a bit of time to get things together, but they’ve been one of the best teams in the NBA for the second half of the season, and if anyone in the West beats Golden State, it will probably be them.
Rosas is a big reason for this success. Yes, Daryl Morey is one of the best general managers in the NBA, but Rosas is his right-hand man. He’s involved in the daily operation of the team and the personnel decisions. Rosas has had his name brought up for openings before, but the right fit hasn’t appeared. This could potentially be the first one that makes sense to him.
Whoever gets the job will have a hole to climb out of. But the Wolves are currently looking at guys that could be cut out for the job.