Executive vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta will lead Minnesota’s front office on an interim basis during the search for Rosas’s replacement.
“As an organization, we remain committed to building a winning team that our fans and city can be proud of,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a pair of brief statements. “We are committed to staying aligned to achieve our short-term goals and reach our long-term vision.”
Minnesota, which has reached the playoffs once in the past 17 seasons, endured significant adversity during Rosas’s tenure. In addition to extended injury absences for franchise center Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell, the Timberwolves were rocked by the covid-related death of Towns’ mother, Jacqueline, and the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
After hiring Ryan Saunders as coach in 2019, Rosas fired Saunders and replaced him with then-Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch back in February. The coaching change drew criticism at the time for its rushed process and because Rosas had passed over his own staff to hire an assistant from an outside organization, a rarity for midseason coaching changes.
Organizational instability further complicated Rosas’s tenure. Taylor, the franchise’s longtime owner, executed layoffs last year in response to the pandemic in 2020 and then shopped the franchise, which he eventually agreed to sell to former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore in a deal that will consummate in 2023.
While Rosas’s long-term job status was uncertain given the ownership transition, the timing of his departure was highly unusual, as most front office changes take place at the end of the regular season or early in the offseason. Rosas had just completed a trade for guard Patrick Beverley last month and posted photos on social media welcoming new Timberwolves players to the roster earlier this week. Key figures within the organization were surprised by the timing of Rosas’s departure.
“Wtf…,” Towns wrote Wednesday on Twitter.
Before arriving in Minnesota, Rosas, a Colombian immigrant, spent much of his professional career with the Houston Rockets, rising from intern to executive vice president of basketball operations. He briefly left the Rockets in 2013 to serve as general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, but returned to Houston after just three months due to philosophical differences.
Perhaps the highlight of Rosas’s tenure was the selection of Anthony Edwards with the top pick in the 2020 draft. Edwards, 20, averaged 19.3 points per game to finish second in the Rookie of the Year race. But Minnesota was unable to build on that momentum in this year’s draft because it owed its first-round pick, which landed at No. 7, to the Golden State Warriors as part of the Russell trade.
The Timberwolves enter this season with modest expectations: oddsmakers project them as a lottery team, with one setting their over/under at 33.5 wins.