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The Timberwolves Have Mastered Dysfunction

Screenshot via YouTube

The Minnesota Timberwolves fired their president of basketball operations, a man named Gersson Rosas, Wednesday afternoon. This is notable for having happened less than a week ahead of the start of training camp, and for not having been triggered by Rosas trading away a recent lottery pick in exchange for Patrick damn Beverley. Turns out Rosas might just be kind of a jerk, and one with a less-than-admirable commitment to workplace boundaries. In that sense the story is just drearily familiar corporate stuff. That it should happen in the front office of the Timberwolves is both itself drearily familiar and also disappointingly anticlimactic, since in absolutely no sense does it rattle the narrative landscape of the sport around it. This is just more Timberwolves shit.

The Timberwolves are currently undergoing a transfer of ownership, from billionaire businessman Glen Taylor, who bought the team in 1994, to a new ownership group headlined by e-commerce flipper and serial entrepreneur Marc Lore and Jennifer Lopez-shrine-haver Alex Rodriguez. As part of that process, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Rosas has been the subject of a lengthy performance evaluation, which revealed that he’d been the antagonist in a dysfunctional professional relationship with executive vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta, whom Rosas had at one point “barred from the facility” after a falling out. That appears to be the lesser, or at least the least salacious, of Rosas’s reported misdeeds:

With a handful of days before the start of training camp, people across the NBA were stunned by the Timberwolves parting ways with Rosas. It was clear the heap of issues, from office morale to the lack of success, had decayed the Timberwolves’ front office and sources say those were the driving force behind the move. But why now? In recent days, the organization discovered that Rosas, who is married, had a consensual intimate relationship with a member of the organization, The Athletic has learned from multiple sources. It made several people within the organization uncomfortable, sources said.

The Athletic

Rosas was evidently not super cautious with this workplace romance: According to reporting from Bleacher Report, Rosas was photographed smooching his paramour “in a suite during a Minnesota United FC game last Saturday,” and those photos were eventually provided to “team officials.” Apparently the affair was not the reason for Rosas’s firing, according to The Athletic, but “it certainly impacted the timing.” Evidently Glen Taylor was willing to do his successors a solid and get this firing out of the way now, although it’s worth pointing out that a less terminally screwy organization probably would’ve taken action on the case of their head hoops honcho smooching a subordinate in photographable places before now. Alas.

Listen. The Timberwolves have won at least half their games just once since 2004. They made the playoffs in 2018 but their young core players were so reviled by Jimmy Butler, who along with then-head coach and team president Tom Thibodeau essentially willed the team to this fleeting brush with relevance, that he made it his mission the following season to humiliate his teammates so thoroughly that the organization would have no choice but to send him elsewhere. Thibs was fired in January of their post-playoffs season despite leading the team to a heroic 15–12 record after the demoralizing Butler trade. Taylor, who has always been a terrible owner, eventually hired Rosas away from the Mavericks to take over basketball operations. Rosas, as an analytics knower who rose within the efficient Rockets organization under Daryl Morey, was supposed to be a stabilizing force in Minnesota. Instead, the team hasn’t come within shouting distance of competence in the two years since he was hired. They’re wasting the athletic prime of Karl-Anthony Towns, and they’re perpetually caught between chasing the bottom rung of the West’s playoff ladder and a full roster teardown, a condition neatly exemplified by the acquisition of Patrick Beverley, normally a coattail ornament for the stars of winning teams, in a trade that cost them two ambulatory human players.

It’s a miserable organization, trapped in hell, and that’s not even a crack at their subarctic home. Wooed by shiny things, burdened by nostalgia, indecisive at every turn, impatient on the long road but hysterically under-resourced for exploiting any shortcuts, in all cases self-sabotaging, and driven as if by magnetic forces toward obscurity. It’s funny and novel that their head basketball honcho was out doing PDAs all over town with a coworker, but the absolute least surprising thing in the world is that the Timberwolves found a novel way of cartwheeling into another era of instability. It’s the only thing they do well.

What I am getting at here is even just acknowledging the continued misery of the Minnesota Timberwolves, in 2021, is fucking exhausting. It’s offensive to me personally that I should even have to cast my eyes over their blight when scanning the standings. At least they can be relied upon generally to do me the favor of staying at the very bottom. If it isn’t because of a huge Anthony Edwards mega-jam, I would prefer to not be reminded of their existence at all, under any circumstances, until such time that stories of them karate-kicking their own dicks off are the exception and no longer the norm.

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