Gersson Rosas had the best of intentions when he woke up Sunday. The Timberwolves new president of basketball operations reportedly was set to be part of a Wolves contingent that was to meet with Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell in Los Angeles. The team’s representatives would include coach Ryan Saunders and star center Karl-Anthony Towns, who happens to be good friends with Russell.
Convincing the restricted free agent to come to Minnesota wasn’t going to be easy — and would have had to include a sign-and-trade with the Nets and the jettisoning of a player on the current roster to create sufficient salary-cap space — but, nonetheless, it felt like this might have a chance of happening.
Part of this feeling came from the fact that Rosas seemed far more equipped to lead this type of meeting than his predecessor, Tom Thibodeau, and the involvement of Towns in the process to legally tamper in the days leading up to free agency also seemed wise and very un-Wolves like. There were even rumblings that the Wolves were making progress in making first-round bust Andrew Wiggins the guy who would be moved to make room for Russell’s arrival.
Could this really happen? For the Timberwolves?
Of course not.
While many NBA teams moved at a frenetic pace when free agency commenced at 5 p.m. Sunday, the Wolves were quiet. “Don’t worry,” was the common refrain, “they are meeting with D’Angelo and his people. This will take some time.”
Just before 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, NBA information competitors Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN delivered the news that could not have surprised diehard Wolves fans.
Warriors are on verge of acquiring Russell, Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier from Brooklyn, league sources said. https://t.co/4HefUBSNQA
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2019
Golden State and Brooklyn have agreed on a sign-and-trade, sending D’Angelo Russell to the Warriors on a four-year, $117M maximum contract, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2019
There are a few takeaways from the fact the mighty Golden State Warriors, and not the Wolves, were able to land Russell as a key piece of a team that will move into a state-of-the-art building in San Francisco next season.
The first is this serves as Rosas’ official welcome to Minnesota. Rosas, who worked in the Houston Rockets front office for 16 years before assuming control of the Wolves in May, might end up having an outstanding run in Minnesota. He seems like a smart guy with the innovative ideas necessary to succeed in today’s NBA, but he’s going to have his work cut out for him and nothing will come easy.
In his first two months on the job, he has learned that the Wolves never move up in the draft lottery (they do move back), and now he’s learned that even having Towns recruit for him doesn’t mean it’s easy to get players to Minnesota.
The second takeaway is that Sunday night served as the latest reminder that being a Wolves fan means accepting the fact that for every one thing that might go right, there will be hundreds more that end in disappointment. Seeing things go wrong for this franchise long has been the norm.
It’s not that Russell was going to instantly turn things around for the Wolves, but it would have been a significant step to add him to the mix. It would have shown that maybe things really were changing, and it certainly would have been considered an early home run for Rosas.
It also would have shown the power of Towns to get his friend in the door at Target Center. It all seemed too good to be true. And ultimately, because these are the Timberwolves, it was.