MINNEAPOLIS -- Seated at the dais alongside the two people who brought him to Minnesota, Gersson Rosas proclaimed that the building in which he was sitting would soon be a house of champions.
“We want to,” he told reporters, “… do something here that hasn’t been done.”
That big talk for an introductory press conference, especially when taking over a Timberwolves franchise best known for its futility. But that’s part of the reason why Rosas was chosen by CEO Ethan Casson and owner Glen Taylor to take over as Minnesota’s new president of basketball operations.
Winning NBA championships is the end goal they all have in mind.
“We can be better and we need a leader that’s positive about the future and where we can go,” Taylor said Monday at Target Center. “Our ultimate goal of course is to win the championship. We are in a tough division with other very outstanding teams, but we have that potential and we need someone to lead us there.”
Rosas has a challenge ahead of him, but it’s one for which he seems prepared. He impressed the Timberwolves’ brass with his knowledge of the organization and plan for taking the franchise to the next level and beyond — something he helped do in Houston.
The Rockets have long been known as an aggressive front office, capable of not only making shrewd moves, but daring ones that can tip the scale of power in the Western Conference.
Currently playing Golden State in the Western Conference semifinals, the Rockets have James Harden and Chris Paul on the roster because of blockbuster trades, but also P.J. Tucker — signed to a reasonable free-agent contract two summers ago, and role players such as Danuel House, who proved his mettle with the Rockets’ G-League affiliate.
Houston exhausted all options when it came to acquiring quality players. With Minnesota strapped for salary cap space for the foreseeable future, Rosas will need to do the same with the Wolves.
“We’re going to be very creative,” he said. “I think you’re going to 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.
“There are smart organizations all over the NBA; we have to set ourselves apart by creating the most talented roster we could put together. And that’s gonna be being able to be successful with minimum contracts, being able to be successful in the trade market. Free agency-wise, being strategic the space that we have.”
The key, Rosas said, is for the Wolves to “question the norm” and be patient.
“Over time,” he said, “making the simple decisions right, we’re gonna be able to make some of the big decisions down the stretch.”
That’s what the Rockets did. And while Rosas has spent the better part of 16 years in Houston, most recently as the executive vice president of basketball operations, he vowed that Minnesota won’t simply be “Houston North.” The Wolves will have to develop their own identity as a franchise. You can’t build the same roster around Karl-Anthony Towns that you built around James Harden and expect the same results.
But they will use a similar process. Rosas is a believer in a modern style of play, one predicated on pace and, yes, taking high-efficiency shots.
“We want to put a team on the floor that people feel excited about,” he said.
Rosas is a former coach with roots in player development and will emphasize that aspect of building the Wolves’ talent base. But he also is a firm believer in marrying analytics and basketball, one of the staples of the Rockets’ franchise. Houston is known for almost exclusively taking only layups/dunks and 3-pointers.
“We were fortunate to do a lot of great things in Houston,” Rosas said. “(Coach) Mike D’Antoni is a visionary, and we were able to push the limits of how that’s played, in terms of pace and space, in terms of shot selection, how we utilize players, how we put players in positions to be successful. But it’s a balance game.”
The Wolves’ new basketball boss said the current roster has “a lot of players” that fit into the modern game, and that he thinks Minnesota can take a step forward as early as next season.
“We also have to put our best players in the best positions on both ends to be successful,” he said. “So, we’re going to push the standards of what we’re doing.”
They’ll do that, Rosas said, with a united front. Rosas believes there should be synergy between business and basketball operations, one of the things the Timberwolves’ brass loved about him, but thinks alignment within the basketballl department is particularly critical.
Everyone, he said, will be pushed to develop on the court, in the weight room and in the training room — starting now.
“It’s a coordinated vision with partners at all levels, to make sure that these guys are working hard every day,” he said. “We’re starting. Our guys are here. They’re working. This summer there’s going to be a lot of tangible efforts to make sure that they’re ready once training camp starts.”
How the Wolves play, how they practice, how they build their roster, Rosas said, is “going to be different,” and he’s confident that will lead to success.
Rosas noted Taylor wants “a world-class organization,” and that’s exactly what he plans to deliver.
“We want tangible change,” Rosas said. “We’re going to focus on the process; we hope the results will come sooner rather than later. But there’s going to be an impact in how we play, and how the market feels (about) us.”