Now that the Wolves are moving forward with Gersson Rosas as the President of Basketball Operations, it’s just the beginning. The process of hiring Rosas seemingly went smoothly, but Rosas now has quite a mess that he needs to get the Wolves out of.
Here are five things that should be on Rosas’ to-do list once he officially begins his tenure with the Wolves.
Find a system that makes sense for the Wolves
The Rockets have become a championship contender partly because of the system that they run offensively. The Wolves probably won’t look like Houston – at least not right away – because they don’t have a similar personnel set. The Rockets are built to play their exact style. The Wolves aren’t built to play that way, but they can be built to play another style.
Rosas will need to work with Ryan Saunders – or whomever is named the full-time coach – to devise a plan towards success. This includes outlining various roles for each player on the team. Some players might be asked to do things differently than they have in the past. The key to that working is the players buying into their roles.
The phrase ‘star in your role’ is one that’s been muttered around the NBA – including by Saunders in Minnesota – for sometime now. That means players doing their exact role to the best of their abilities. Not every player is a star the way Karl-Anthony Towns is. The Rockets are a terrific example of guys buying in and starring in their role. PJ Tucker has never been an all-star caliber player, but he has a very defined role in Houston and is terrific at it. Center Clint Capela may be a bit more naturally talented than Tucker, but the same thing applies. He’s great at what he’s asked to do, and doesn’t try to overdo it.
The Wolves need to figure out what the best roles are for many of their players, and hope that they can star in them.
Figure out the front office
One of the more interesting things that has yet to be determined – at least publicly – is whether or not current general manager Scott Layden will stay with the organization. If he does stay, it’s not crazy to think that he could be re-assigned to a different role inside the organization.
Layden was hired back in 2016 when Tom Thibodeau was brought on to lead the organization. After staying on following the firing of Thibodeau he did his best to show that he belonged to stay with the organization moving forward. Even if he did, it’s a bit of an awkward thing to hire a President of Basketball Operations and not let that person pick a new right-hand man.
It would be unfair to Rosas to not let him determine who his No. 2 is, but with Layden’s two years and $4 million remaining on his contract still on the books, there’s at least a question if that will actually happen.
Make scouting/player development a priority
The Rockets have done a good job identifying top-end talent despite not having a draft pick in the lottery since 2012, and even that pick was acquired via a trade with Milwaukee. Even with that, the Rockets have still been able to find steals outside of the lottery.
Both Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell (later traded to LA for Chris Paul) were selected after the lottery was over and have gone on to become high-caliber players. But that’s not the most impressive part of the player identification.
What Houston has done so well is find players that haven’t been in the ideal situation in the NBA to date and turn them into serviceable guys in the NBA. They’ve done this with Tucker, Danuel House, Gerald Green, Austin Rivers, and Kenneth Faried.
All of those guys – with the exception of House – were searching to find their place in the NBA. Now, they’re all thriving in Houston because they fit into the perfect role, and Houston has developed them as needed. House is a different story. He was the final cut by the Golden State Warriors this season before signing a two-way deal with the Rockets. Essentially, he was viewed across the NBA as a borderline G League player.
House ended up playing in 39 games – starting 13 of them – for Houston, averaging 9.4 points per game. The only reason the number of games he played in during the regular season is at 39 is because he ran out of NBA days. Two-way players are allotted 45 days with the NBA team, and must spend the rest of the season with the G League club. House ran out of days in mid-January. He and the Rockets couldn’t come to an agreement on a full-season NBA contract until mid-March, meaning he spent two months away from the team.
It’s hard to find a guy quite like that, but the fact that the Rockets were able to find a place for him in the NBA and develop him enough to make it work is something the Wolves can learn from.
Figure out what the hell to do with Andrew Wiggins
You knew that this was going to be on the list, right? The Wolves haven’t been able to crack the code to make Wiggins a serviceable NBA player. No one has been able to figure this out quite yet. He hasn’t been an all-time bust, the way that the 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick and former member of the Wolves Anthony Bennett was, but he hasn’t been good, either.
Rosas will be tasked with finding some way to utilize Wiggins – or determine if it’s time to move on from him. It’s unlikely that Wiggins ever becomes the type of star player that’s expected of No. 1 overall selections, but maybe he can be something else useful.
Maybe Wiggins can be one of the guys that ‘stars in his role’ rather than a guy that’s expected to be a star. There are still things on the basketball court that Wiggins is successful at, despite his overall ineffectiveness. Maximizing the time he spends doing those things could go a long way into making the Wolves a better team.
That’s a two-part scenario, though. The Wolves as an organization need to figure it out, and Wiggins needs to buy in as well. If both those things don’t happen, it’s hard to have hope for Wiggins’ improvement.
Determine the best backcourt situation
Jeff Teague has already exercised his $19 million player option for the 2019-20 season, but it’s still a very murky situation.
Derrick Rose experienced a renaissance in 2018, and then missed most of 2019 due to various injuries. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, and while there was a desire on his end to return, it’s unknown how the new version of the front office will feel about an oft-injured point guard.
Tyus Jones also remains in the picture at the moment. He’s a restricted free agent, meaning that the Wolves have the opportunity to match any offer sheet that he signs with another team. Jones is well-liked by both ownership and Saunders, but like Rose, it’s unknown how the front office will feel about him. It’s fair to wonder how much they’d be willing to pay in order to retain his services if a team like Phoenix offers more money than Minnesota is comfortable with.
Jerryd Bayless was also around for much of the year in the backcourt, but it would probably be a surprise if he returns for a second season with the Wolves.
One of the options here would be to look into dealing Teague this summer. He’s entering the last year of his contract and will be looking to bounce back to form after an injury-filled season. There are plenty of worse things than having Teague as a starting point guard, and that goes for other teams, too.
The Wolves also may want to look in the draft at gathering backcourt help. One of the team’s biggest problems is that there is currently no quality shooting in the backcourt. That needs to change. Depending on the draft positioning the Wolves have – which will be determined on May 14 – it could make sense for the Wolves to select a guard. That would make moving Teague more of a priority, or change the decision-making process on Jones.