Tuesday, December 7 2021

It is a testament to the good people of Minnesota that the Timberwolves were able to fill any of the 3,000 seats they made available to fans for the final 12 home games of last season, because the franchise has given them little to root for in its 33-year history, and Wednesday merely marked the latest embarrassment.

Inside of a week before training camp, the Timberwolves abruptly fired president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas barely two years into his tenure amid accusations of front-office dysfunction and an alleged affair with a team staffer, The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania reported on Wednesday.

Karl-Anthony Towns, the latest star the franchise has failed, summed up the punctuation to three-plus decades of mismanagement with three letters and an ellipsis that signaled no end in sight to the distress.

The Athletic cited a “high-ranking Timberwolves source” in reporting the organization’s stance that the decision to fire Rosas “was made for performance reasons,” which only patronizes the Minnesota faithful. 

The reasons attributed to sources for Rosas’ firing are either longstanding or inconsequential, save for the recent discovery of his alleged “consensual extramarital affair” with a female employee, who also left the organization on Wednesday, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. Either that was the impetus for his departure or the Timberwolves just knowingly let someone whose performance they questioned dictate a pivotal offseason.

Reported concerns about the light protections on the first-round pick Minnesota traded for D’Angelo Russell date back to February 2020. The semi-controversial firing of Ryan Saunders and subsequent hiring of Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch, without opening the head-coaching position to a diverse array of candidates, including incumbent associate head coach David Vanterpool, occurred this past February.

Likewise, we are led to believe by The Athletic’s sources that Rosas’ pre-draft decisions to fire longtime scout Zarko Durisic and block vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta’s lateral move to the Houston Rockets were contributing factors to Wednesday’s dismissal. If this were the case, one big Wolves regret is that they were able to hand the front-office keys to Gupta on Wednesday, which makes no sense.

It is wild that the Wolves want us to think they knew all of this in July and still let Rosas sit out the draft, whiff in free agency and trade his No. 6 overall pick from 2019 for a 33-year-old, only to fire him days before camp. They still put Rosas in charge of negotiating with his longtime boss, Philadelphia 76ers executive Daryl Morey, in a summer-long pursuit of Ben Simmons. This is the narrative that was pushed to reporters, and there is part of us that should believe it, because the franchise has been dysfunctional from its onset.

Only, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sold a different bill of goods in Wednesday’s statement: “As an organization, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of.”

Taylor bought the Timberwolves for $94 million in 1994, five years into the expansion team’s existence and a year before Kevin Garnett fell into his 21-win team’s lap. Taylor made misstep after misstep, notably cheating the salary cap to sign Joe Smith and costing Minnesota three first-round picks in Garnett’s prime.

The Timberwolves gave Garnett one realistic chance at winning, acquiring Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell in 2003, and they made the 2004 Western Conference finals — still the team’s only two playoff series wins. Not a year passed until Taylor openly trashed his roster and dubbed the acquisitions “a failed experiment.”

Garnett wanted out within two years, and his disdain for Taylor has only grown, culminating in a declaration never to see his No. 21 jersey retired under Taylor’s ownership. “I don’t do business with snakes,” he said.

The 22-win season that followed in 2007-08 begot Kevin Love, who posted two All-NBA seasons for a team that won no more than 40 games before he too wanted out of Minnesota. Credit Taylor’s hiring of David Kahn, one of the worst NBA executives of the century, who drafted back-to-back point guards in 2009 — Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn — directly before Stephen Curry went seventh to the Golden State Warriors. 

The 16-win season that followed Love’s exit begot Towns, and it is a wonder he does not want out, at least not publicly. The Timberwolves have given him one realistic chance at winning, acquiring Jimmy Butler in 2017, and they made their lone playoff appearance since 2004. Not a year passed until Taylor openly regretted the trade. Another failed experiment, riddled with dysfunction from the top down.

After a while, you have to wonder if Minnesota’s failures as an NBA franchise have less to do with the eight different executives who have called the basketball shots for the franchise over the past 15 years and more to do with the man who hired them. This is the glimmer of hope to which Timberwolves fans can now cling.

Taylor agreed to sell the team to a group helmed by Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez for $1.5 billion in July. The new ownership group will not hold a majority stake until 2023, but they did reportedly have input into Rosas’ firing, whatever the reason. You probably would not want Taylor or his dysfunctional executive du jour pulling the trigger on a Simmons trade offer, either. Here is hoping whoever they endorse as the next shot-caller is superior to his or her predecessors, because the good people of Minnesota deserve better.

The Minnesota Timberwolves abruptly fired president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas on Wednesday. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)The Minnesota Timberwolves abruptly fired president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas on Wednesday. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Timberwolves abruptly fired president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas on Wednesday. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Source: Yahoo Sports

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