“It never works out for them, something always goes wrong.” That's how Athletic's Timberwolves reporter Jon Krawczynski summed up the Wolves two days ago as a guest on The Lowe Post, and boy was he right. The best part about it is, at no point in the podcast did Krawczynski hint at any sort of instability within the Wolves. 48 hours later, he helped Shams Charania confirm the latest breaking news.
No one saw this coming. The Wolves were on everyone's mind as the most active team in the Ben Simmons trade speculation, and not a single reporter hinted at anything like this. Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelbourne reported something else that confirms this decision came out of the blue for everyone involved - Rosas was still holding meetings and going about his business Wednesday morning. Wednesday afternoon, he was told to clear out his office. If that's not enough, three letters from Karl-Anthony Towns made it clear players had no idea.
Why was Rosas fired?
The moment Shams broke the story, everyone went to the same thing - this has something to do with the Ben Simmons trade. The narrative pushed out there implies it's not. Multiple sources cite two major reasons for this decision. A toxic work environment and an "an intimate encounter with an individual within the team’s staff" (via Clevis Murray.) Seems like several people in the front office had problems with how Rosas was doing things, and they expressed their concerns to new ownership.
While Glen Taylor is still the managing owner, Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez have started an in-depth analysis of the organization, and the understanding is they will take over within two years. According to ESPN, "owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez had been evaluating Rosas' performance this summer and had planned to relieve him of his duties at some point." The decision to do it now was made after they found out Rosas was involved in a consensual relationship with an employee. A relationship sources said the organization “does not believe violated any of its internal policies”
Funny enough, Bill Simmons was talking about the "new owner syndrome" in his latest podcast - the need new owners have to do something major, and it often results in rash decisions. The only thing is, Simmons was talking about the Utah Jazz. Seems like the unusual timing and obviously abrupt decision making can be in part connected to that.
“It is also the culmination of months of evaluation by ownership and the franchise’s high-ranking officials about the state of Rosas’ leadership and the direction of the franchise under his watch. Ownership has listened to a vocal contingent of staffers express concern about the way Rosas conducted his business, sources told The Athletic, and finally came to the conclusion that they could not wait any longer to address the situation.”
Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania, The Athletic
According to the Athletic report, even those who didn't accuse Rosas of creating a toxic environment acknowledged the fact things in the front office have been tense. They did point out a significant cause is the pandemic and the fact front offices “haven’t had a day off in basically two years.” There are 30 frustrated, burned-out front offices out there.
Still, it seems the straw that broke the camel's back was the conflict with the man who will be interim GM, Sachin Gupta. Rosas blocked his move to the Rockets as it was supposed to happen right before the draft, and Gupta had "too much proprietary knowledge." Drama ensued, and ownership had to step in to convince Gupta, the creator of the trade machine, to stay with the organization.
According to BasketballNews.com, currently an interim GM, Gupta will have the chance to keep the job, “though Minnesota would like to land a "top five" candidate to run basketball operations.” Basketball News also mentioned that Elton Brand is regarded very highly and could get serious consideration. Yes, Elton Brand is still with the 76ers, the team considering trading Ben Simmons to the Wolves. (These are Mexican soap opera levels of connections.)
If the organization found out Rosas had a consensual relationship with an employee that they don't believe “violated any of its internal policies,” then that reason being pushed in the media is just an excuse to cover up the horrible timing of the decision. So obviously ownership (most likely Lore and Rodriguez) didn't like how Rosas was running things, and that's their prerogative. Maybe it was the dissatisfaction in the front office, and perhaps it was the Ben Simmons trade. Whatever it is, it couldn't have been a consensual relationship that's by the book.
If it's the alleged toxic relationship, ownership knew about it for some time and should've acted sooner. The abrupt nature of the decision and the horrible timing are on them. Pushing the relationship part out there just makes them look worse. You want to bring in your own guy to run the team? Fine, you get to do that. But don't do it a week before training camp without preparing the team and the organization for it.
There's a third option, and that's that Rosas was clashing with ownership about the Ben Simmons situation. Either he wasn't willing to make the trade happen now, or he told ownership he would eventually make a significant offer for Simmons. Either way, if you want to fire your GM for that, then be transparent about why you made your decision when you did and the way you did it.
“It'll be great to have some stability and some understanding of where we're growing with the people we're trying to grow with”
Karl Anthony Towns, Yahoo Sports
This was KAT two weeks ago talking to Vincent Goodwill about the upcoming season. So much for stability and running major decisions by your superstar. These are the moments in which KAT gets a text from a Draymond saying,”Yo, what a clown show. S**t like that never happens here, our owner signs check and the GM knows what he's doing. You deserve that too, let's win a title together.”
After "the Ewing theory," we need to add another Bill Simons' concept into the NBA vernacular - "new owner syndrome." It's a thing, and it usually doesn't end well.