Despite changing lead front office personnel just days before the start of training camp, the Minnesota Timberwolves should not be hindered in their pursuit of superstar Ben Simmons.
President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas was fired on Wednesday, but the No. 2 in the same front office, Sachin Gupta, is now at the controls. And the latter has many of the same connections held by his predecessor, so there is no reason to think that the Wolves’ chances of landing Simmons have changed for the worse.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Firing Rosas should not impact Ben Simmons pursuit
The fear of the Wolves’ suddenly losing out on a chance to land Simmons is not unfounded.
After all, Rosas was known to be hard-charging when it came to his pursuit of the three-time All-Star. But that’s not the only reason why Rosas was considered to be up to the task of landing Simmons.
Rosas’s connection to Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey has been well documented. Rosas was Morey’s righthand man for 17 years in Houston, after all.
But Gupta’s connection to Morey is similar. Remember, Gupta spent nearly a decade in Houston, rising through the ranks, leaving with former Rockets exec Sam Hinkie to Philadelphia for a couple of years, and then briefly returning to Houston when Morey took him back in between roles in Philadelphia and Detroit.
While Gupta reported directly to Rosas for a time in Houston and to Hinkie in Philadelphia, he no doubt worked closely with Morey. There’s no reason to think that there isn’t a professional connection between Gupta and Morey, even if it isn’t quite as strong as the Rosas-Morey relationship.
There’s also the most obvious piece: it isn’t like Gupta is new to the organization. He’s been in the front office at Mayo Clinic Square for more than two years, so he’s privy to everything that’s been going on and, presumably, despite the reported tension between Rosas and Gupta in recent months, would be up to speed on all trade talks.
Additionally, Rosas seemed to be the driving force behind the pursuit and eventual acquisition of D’Angelo Russell. Unless the Wolves are able to convince the 76ers to accept a trade that is centered on draft picks and the potential of Jaden McDaniels, Russell is likely to be part of any deal for Simmons.
It’s certainly plausible that the analytically-inclined Gupta could be more likely to move on from Russell in spite of the much-publicized friendship between Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. Rosas was the front office representative frequently selling the idea of “family” and the Russell-Towns pairing; perhaps it’s easier for Gupta to slide over a chair and make the difficult decision to pull the trigger on a deal.
We don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t require a massive amount of mental gymnastics to see the above scenario playing out.
Of course, Gupta could also choose to not rock the boat so close to training camp. Or perhaps ownership puts a stop to any major personnel moves while they conduct a full search for a new president of basketball operations.
In the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t make much sense for Rosas’s firing to halt a major move from happening. If anything, it could grease the wheels for such a deal.