“I’d say they spent enough time around Vanterpool to feel that he wasn’t the guy leading the show that they wanted, and they clearly felt Finch was,” a fourthexecutive told HoopsHype. “There are 90 front of the bench assistants in the NBA, and most of them will not be head coaches,” the third assistant coachtold HoopsHype. “Obviously, it’s frustrating and seems like this would be David’s chance, but they interviewed him before Ryan got the job and then brought him on as an assistant.
There are currently seven Black head coaches in the NBA. Vanterpool, who interviewed this offseason for head-coaching openings with the Pelicans, Rockets and Bulls, appeared to be knocking on the door to become the eighth Black head coach in the league. “It’s wrong in many facets,” oneexecutive told HoopsHype. “It’s wrong with what’s going on in the world with social justice. To me, it just comes down to a relationship thing. Gersson is the man in charge and he knows who he wants. I think it needed to be handled differently. I think even if you hire Finch, you have to do your due diligence and you make David your guy for at least until the end of the season. What’s the point of keeping them on if they were part of the problem?”
One assistant coach who spoke to HoopsHype was disappointed that Vanterpool was passed over for the job again. The assistant questioned whether one day he’d also be able to get a head-coaching job partly because of his skin color. “It’s a slap in the face,” the assistant coachtold HoopsHype. “We don’t even get a chance to fail. Just give us the opportunity. We’ve got to be a proven commodity. How many times have you seen a young dynamo that’s a Black coach get an opportunity? Some of these white guys they hire are middle age or early 30s. Some of these GMs are too. Vanterpool’s been successful, he’s been in a quality program for several years and had success there. I just don’t get it. I think David is going to be okay, but it’s going to a weird situation with him being at work every day.”
“I’m sure Vanterpool feels cheated,” a second assistant coachtold HoopsHype. “He went there to take the next step as anassociate head coach, leaving a great job in Portland to be the clear cut No. 2 guy. It would’ve been a great opportunity for both sides to see what he’s capable of. They could always turn to Finch after the season if there’s no momentum. Who was scooping Finch ahead of them?” “I was surprised they’d hire an assistant from another team mid-season,” a secondexecutive told HoopsHype.
In both instances, the executive disagreed with the backlash Marks and Rosas each received for hiring a white coach instead of a Black one. “If somebody’s going to say something like that, then go ask Masai Ujiri why he hired Nick Nurse instead of a Black coach,” theexecutive told HoopsHype. “Go ask Arturas Karnisovas why he hired Billy Donovan instead of a Black coach.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: The National Basketball Coaches Association issues statement on the Minnesota Timberwolves’ process in hiring new coach Chris Finch: "It's always bittersweet when one coach is fired and another is hired. But this is not about individual coaches. We would be remiss not to acknowledge a deeper concern and level of disappointment with the Minnesota head coach hiring process. The NBCA understands and respects each organization's right to hire and fire whomever and whenever it chooses. But it is also our responsibility to point out when an organization fails to conduct a thorough and transparent search of candidates from a wide range of diverse backgrounds."
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBCA: "During this past off-season, we saw many NBA head coaching vacancies where teams led searches that were both diverse and transparent. This must be the standard. We must establish a level playing field and equal access to opportunity for all coaching candidates. The NBCA has been working closely with the League Office on a wide range of initiatives that will improve future coaching searches. In partnership with the NBA, we look forward to sharing details in the weeks to come."
Is the number one need just a little bit more size, maybe that's a four but maybe that four can also guard threes, you know, maybe has some position flexibility, but would that be about your number one need? Gersson Rosas: I would say it's pretty close. I mean, like anything, the number one need is to always get the best player available on the market and that's our focus. Number two, I do think we have some options there at the four, we want guys that have the opportunity to compete and play better, but if there are clear upgrades, we're always looking for that in any way so we can help move the program forward. And that's probably the position where we've had the most inconsistency in the most need defensively and in terms of rebounding.
Gersson Rosas on trades: Conversations are ongoing, especially in our situation, we want to make sure we're being aggressive, and evaluating all options. Any way we can upgrade our team, we want to do it. We have some needs that we have to address on both sides of the ball.
Gersson Rosas on trades: The reality is we're not going to take shortcuts, we're not going to skip steps, just because we want you know... I'm not going to make a trade for the sake of adding another win. We do need more improvement, we do need to be more consistent.
Gersson Rosas: I'm confident in those guys, I'm confident in our vets, I'm confident in D'Angelo, in Ricky, in Juancho, and those guys that have started off slow, it's just gonna take more time. And unfortunately, the schedule is not kind to get in a rhythm. And those guys are rhythm guys, but we've got to find a way to get them as healthy as possible with the most juice as possible so we can move forward and they can play better, and we can play better because they're big parts of what we're doing.
Gersson Rosas: We need more of it. We've got even though we've had injuries and COVID and everything else, but we have enough on this roster to have a better record. And I know coach and his staff and me and my staff are doing all we can to make sure we get to that point, we need some consistency, and we need more identity on both sides of the ball.
Gersson Rosas: And when we're not winning, the fans shouldn't be happy. We're not happy. I'll tell you, nobody's more frustrated, disappointed and upset than the people in this organization because they want to put the best product forward. They want to put the best team together and we want to be successful. So I welcome that. I want them to be tuned in to understand what's going on. And if they're not happy, they're not happy and they should voice their displeasure. And we hear it, we feel it. But I guarantee you, nobody is going through it as hard as we are.
The Timberwolves and general manager Scott Layden have parted ways, sources told The Athletic, a move that brings an end to the last vestiges of the Tom Thibodeau era in Minnesota. The two sides reached an agreement earlier this week, just two weeks before Layden would have started his fifth season as a member of the Wolves front office. Layden had one season left on the contract he signed in 2016 and remained an involved member of the front office even after Thibodeau was replaced by Gersson Rosas as president of basketball operations. But several factors and an upcoming season complicated by COVID-19 combined to make this the right time to part, sources said.
But Layden is based in New York, and given the NBA’s strict tiered worker protocol, which is designed to try to limit the exposure of players, coaches and staff to COVID-19 this season, it would have been difficult for him to be able to travel to the Twin Cities and be around the team without going through cumbersome isolation procedures each time. There was also a contractual matter that had to be resolved, sources said. His existing deal was set to expire in April, but the new season has been extended into May before the playoffs begin. All of that would have made this season all the more difficult to navigate, and so Layden is moving on, as was expected to eventually happen when Rosas first took over.
What most are aware of is that throughout his 2 1/2 seasons in charge, Thibodeau was in charge. There was a level of communication with Layden and his staff. But ultimately Thibodeau made most decisions, from the return for Butler to the color of the benches in the weight room. Taylor hoped that Layden would be another strong voice in the room, but his loyalty and support for Thibodeau never wavered. That is what made it so surprising when Layden was one of the people, along with CEO Ethan Casson, who had to deliver the news to Thibodeau that he was fired.
On any given day, 14 to 16 people — scouts, analysts, coaches, even medical personnel — gather in that room. They all undergo daily testing for the coronavirus, then study game film before engaging in spirited but congenial debate. “Let’s say we study a group of players over several days,” Gupta said. “At the end of that, everyone will do their rankings and we’ll have a voting exercise, and we’ll compile that and discuss that some more. Generally, it’s a democracy.”
Branch has had to lean on every bit of his experience, personal and professional, to emerge as a pivotal part of the Timberwolves’ march forward through such harrowing circumstances. The adjunct professor in him has helped put together team meetings featuring guest speakers on the subject of law enforcement interaction with people of color. The youth mentor in him has tried to shift the focus from the anger generated from watching Floyd die at the hands of Minneapolis police to resourcefulness in finding solutions to the problems with which they are confronted. The agent and executive in him has helped do all of that while continuing to evaluate talent for the draft and give input on the team’s path forward after a 19-45 first season that ended prematurely due to a global pandemic. “The guy has been a godsend for us,” Rosas said.
When Branch first decided to take the job last summer, he knew he would be helping Rosas to rebuild a basketball team. Now he finds himself trying to rebuild a community as well. They are doing it all while preparing for the draft, free agency and a crucial second season in charge. If they can get things on track on the court, the opportunities for Branch will keep coming. “I believe in him a ton and believe he’s going to be a star in this league,” Rosas said. “We have to continue to hire high-caliber people in our organization because I believe guys like Sachin, Gianluca and Joe are going to be running their own programs at some point.”
Rosas wasn’t hiding much in those statements, because as Rosas marks his one-year anniversary on the job, the Wolves roster looks nothing like the one he inherited — and even nothing like the one he assembled after his first free-agent cycle. Just Josh Okogie and Karl-Anthony Towns remain from the roster Rosas inherited. Several came in the days preceding the trade deadline: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, James Johnson and the apple of Rosas’ eye from the moment he took the job, D’Angelo Russell. “Building an organization, building a foundation, the DNA and the values of who we’re going to be, I feel like we’ve done that in a very tangible way after Year 1,” Rosas said in a phone interview. “Roster-wise, our front office staff deserves a ton of credit because as we sit here, we’ve changed over 13 out of 15 roster spots. … That typically takes organizations two to three years. That we were able to do it by the trade deadline was quite an achievement for our staff.”
Along those lines, Towns offered his support of the front office and said he didn’t want to interfere on personnel matters, leaving it to Rosas. But when the subject came around to the Wolves potentially trading Robert Covington, one of Towns’ best friends on the team, Towns expressed his desire for Covington to remain a Timberwolf. First, after the Wolves’ 113-109 loss to the Kings, Towns was asked if he was going to have a voice in what Rosas may decide to do this week. He said he wasn’t going to have one, nor did he want one. “My stand on that is they get paid to do that,” Towns said. “I get paid to be on the court and make the things happen. So I’m going to do the best I can for my job. My job title is to be a basketball player, be a leader and take whatever guys I’m blessed to play with, share this locker room with and try to get the best out of them while getting the best out of me. That’s my job. My job is not to make decisions roster-wise or anything like that.”
Rosas was invited to Capitol Hill by a friend of his, political consultant Larry Gonzalez, who works closely with lawmakers on the all-Democrat caucus. The two met through a Google Next Generation leadership group that focuses on minorities. When Gonzalez read that Rosas was the first Latino general manager in NBA history, he wanted to make sure the members of the caucus heard his story and what he’s trying to do to advance their community. “They want to hear and see that there is opportunity,” Gonzalez said. “There are, unfortunately, some situations where some folks make it and don’t necessarily put the ladder back down for others to get up. I think that’s a big part of his story.”
“It was an opportunity to show that especially in this day and age the positive aspects of [being an immigrant], how we contribute to this country,” Rosas said. “And for me specifically to this great league and game that’s taken me all over the world, just how important that is to me. Not only having the role I have but being able to give back and motivate others as a result.”
Gupta may not have the same kind of name recognition that Morey or Hinkie have earned during their envelope-pushing tenures leading front offices, but chances are he has had a more direct impact on NBA fans than either one of his more well-known bosses. Before he joined Morey in Houston, he was an engineer at ESPN.com and was assigned to work on parsing data for the NBA and college basketball that came in through third-party providers. While there he wrote the code for the Trade Machine, the incredibly addictive online tool that synthesized a byzantine set of rules and regulations and helped make amateur GMs out of anyone with an internet connection.
In some ways, the Timberwolves present Gupta’s biggest challenge yet. They have a franchise player in Karl-Anthony Towns, but a capsheet that is stuffed with bloated salaries that make finding a path back to relevance in the loaded Western Conference anything but easy. Constructing a winner in Minnesota has proven to be a daunting, complicated endeavor. On the scale of difficulty, it probably lies somewhere between pulling a calf into a ring in the middle of a football stadium and constructing an online trading tool from scratch.
Like he always does, Gupta will look at the problem and try to simplify it as much as possible. In Rosas, he has a leader he trusts and admires. In Ryan Saunders, he has found a coach open to collaboration, so much so that Saunders has a member of the analytics staff behind the bench this season. In Towns, he has a perennial All-Star who hasn’t yet reached his prime. It doesn’t guarantee success. But it’s a start. “Every place I’ve worked, I’ve loved it and it’s been great people,” Gupta said. “But the alignment here is pretty special in a way that I haven’t seen before. I’m really excited about the integration we’re going to have with the coaching staff. It’s been special.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Minnesota hiring ROC Nation agent Joe Branch as assistant GM. Branch completes a front office transformation under Gersson Rosas. Branch’s clients included Caris LeVert, Justise Winslow and Josh Hart. His resume includes Nike, league office and Northwestern basketball.
Your name remains associated with front-office openings. This past offseason you were a finalist for the top Timberwolves post. What are your aspirations currently? Chauncey Billups: “I liked the Minnesota situation. They have some good people. I love (owner Glen Taylor) so I was attracted to the situation. Interviewed well, but obviously they went with Gersson Rosas, who was a very good candidate and I’m sure will do a terrific job. But even with that situation, they reached out to me.”
Zach Lowe: Gersson Rosas has taken another big step re-shaping Wolves. Sources say MIN has hired Robby Sikka to revamp its sports science infrastructure. Sikka is CEO of the Sports Medicine Analytics Research Team + has consulted for teams in NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL. Very well-regarded. Sikka will serve as Minnesota's Vice President of Basketball Performance and Technology, sources say. He will give up consulting gigs to focus entirely on the Wolves and have authority to hire staff. Signal that MIN will go all-in on an increasingly important area.
Jon Krawczynski: Timberwolves have promoted Ryan Tanke to Chief Operating Officer. Started in the franchise at an entry level and has risen up the ranks
The Minnesota Timberwolves have hired former Brooklyn Nets director of global scouting Gianluca Pascucci as their assistant general manager. The team made the announcement on Thursday. He’s the first significant front office hire under new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas. Pascucci will be involved in all player personnel matters and lead pro scouting efforts around the NBA, the G League and the international leagues.
Shams Charania: The Minnesota Timberwolves are finalizing hiring Detroit Pistons assistant GM Sachin Gupta as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Gupta and Gersson Rosas worked together in Houston.
Rod Beard: A league source has confirmed that Sachin Gupta is going to become the EVP of basketball operations for the #Timberwolves. Gupta had spent the past year as an assistant GM in charge of analytics for the #Pistons. @Shams Charania was first to report it.
Jon Krawczynski: It's my understanding that Sachin Gupta will be the new No. 2 under Rosas in the revamped front office. There has been nothing official on Scott Layden, but most expect him to stay on board.
Dane Moore: Gersson Rosas said he has spoken with Andrew Wiggins. The Timberwolves new POBO seems very committed to Wiggins and developing a 24-year-old who has played for numerous coaches in numerous systems over his five-year career. Rosas on Wiggins: pic.twitter.com/gkKqDZltOI
Dane Moore: Gersson Rosas on Ryan Saunders’ status as interim head coach: “We’ve begun a process... I’m doing my due diligence. It’s a major objective we want to address.” Rosas went on to commend the jobs both Ryan Saunders and Scott Layden did this past season.
Jonathan Feigen: Timberwolves announce hiring of Gersson Rosas as Timberwolves president. Quick story. Gersson's wife bought him an overcoat last fall for his travels this season. Said he did not like to carry such a heavy coat, but noted it was blue. Said "Where am I going, the Timberwolves?"
The Minnesota Timberwolves named Gersson (GR-sin) Rosas (RO-sauce) as the team’s President of Basketball Operations. Rosas will be responsible for all decisions made within the Timberwolves basketball operations department.
“We are excited for Gersson to lead our basketball operations department,” said Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. “We were extremely impressed with him during the process. He brings many years of NBA front office experience with a very successful organization to our team. I’m confident that he will bring success to our organization.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves hired Houston Rockets executive Gersson Rosas as president of basketball operations on Wednesday, league sources told ESPN. Rosas, a native of Bogota, Colombia, will become the NBA's first Latino top basketball executive.
"Gersson has been an unbelievable person to work with," Morey told ESPN. "He's been way overqualified for his job for a while here. He's more than earned his shot, although I wish he would've gone East. We're going to have an extremely tough competitor in the West. Minnesota is going to find how forward-thinking, how hard working and how talented he is at putting together a winning team."
The Timberwolves will hire Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas as its next president of basketball operations, a source confirmed Wednesday. Rosas earned the job at the end of a process that began the final day of the regular season, when owner Glen Taylor announced the team would hire for that position and continued through interviews with four candidates over the last nine days.
Jon Krawcynski: There was a belief the Wolves would cull the field from 4 to 2 before making a final decision. But league sources say Rosas's performance on Friday and 2nd interview today with Glen Taylor led them to move forward with Gersson
Jon Krawczynski: The Minnesota Timberwolves are moving forward with plans to hire Gersson Rosas as president of basketball operations, league sources tell me and @Shams Charania
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Minnesota Timberwolves are hiring Houston’s Gersson Rosas as the franchise’s next President of Basketball Operations, league sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Chauncey Billups and the Minnesota Timberwolves will meet in near future to discuss the franchise's President of Basketball Operations role, league sources tell me and @ Jon Krawczynski.
Darren Wolfson: One thing heard today on #Twolves POBO candidate Calvin Booth -- yes, he's in the mix: he nearly accepted a front office job with the Wizards before taking the Nuggets ass't GM job. He has many fans in the league.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been granted permission to meet with LA Clippers general manager Michael Winger in the franchise's search for a President of Basketball Operations, league sources told ESPN.
Minnesota owner Glen Taylor has targeted a handful of potential candidates to oversee the Timberwolves operations --- with Winger emerging among them, league sources tell ESPN.
Jonathan Feigen: Timberwolves have also asked for and received permission to interview Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas, per source. Rosas has been a candidate for several positions the past few seasons, but this could be an ideal fit.
The Wolves are looking for a new President of Basketball Operations, the team confirmed Wednesday morning in a news release. That hire will help make decisions regarding the future of the franchise, including who will be the general manager and who will be the coach. “The future of the Minnesota Timberwolves continues to be very bright,” said Wolves owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, in the release. “It’s more important than ever that we find a leader who can build a successful team in today’s fast-paced NBA. We have the cornerstones of a very talented team and need to assemble the final pieces that will elevate us into a playoff team and one that can compete for championships.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves are planning to open a search for a new president of basketball operations, with owner Glen Taylor preferring to keep general manager Scott Layden and interim coach Ryan Saunders as part of a revised organizational structure, league sources told ESPN.
But there is a strong push internally to change the perception of the Wolves franchise, both locally and across the league. They are trying to shed the image of the penny-pinching, bumbling team of yesteryear and go looking for a dynamic leader to help them address the myriad issues they have this summer. Familiar faces like ESPN commentator Chauncey Billups, a former Timberwolves player, and Denver Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth, a former Wolves scout, will certainly be mentioned as possible candidates. But the Wolves will also look outside of Taylor’s sphere, sources said, as they search for their next leader.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Minnesota is finalizing plans to keep GM Scott Layden and coach Ryan Saunders, league sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: The Timberwolves will begin search for new president of basketball operations who will help decide futures of GM Scott Layden and head coach Ryan Saunders, sources tell @JonKrawczynski and me. Minnesota has been preparing statement for Wednesday.
Jon Krawczynski: The Timberwolves plan to open up a search for a new President of Basketball Operations. That person will lead the basketball department and help decide on GM Scott Layden and coach Ryan Saunders, league sources tell @TheAthleticMIN. No decisions have been made.
Jon Krawczynski: The search for a new Timberwolves president will begin in earnest in the next few days, sources say.
Alston hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010, never made an All-Star Game or won a championship. But he still stands out in a crowd because as much as people remember Rafer Alston, they never forget “Skip To My Lou.” Alston has spent his entire basketball life reinventing himself at every turn. The trail-blazing streetballer. The college vagabond who eventually became a disciple of Jerry Tarkanian at Fresno State. The seldom-used rookie in Milwaukee. The invaluable floor general in Miami, Houston and Orlando. ... Now that his playing days are over, Alston has found a new calling that he didn’t expect. After wanting to get into coaching, he took a scouting job with the Minnesota Timberwolves last season. Just as he has his entire career, Alston is changing and adapting to make sure that he is not so easily dismissed.
“He’s a legend in the streets and he did a great job in the NBA,” said Wolves guard Jeff Teague, who grew up in Indianapolis trying to mimic the slick moves Alston showed on those mixtapes. “Now he’s a scout and is able to teach the game, see the game. It’s amazing to see and just from watching mixtapes I became a huge fan.”
Though Layden is not one for being in front of the cameras, behind the scenes he is well-liked as a person and has endeared himself to owner Glen Taylor in the months since Thibs was dismissed. Ryan, of course, has a lot of his father’s charm and feel for people. He is easy to like.
Rumbles persist that Glen Taylor, the Wolves’ owner, remains interested in bringing his former point guard Chauncey Billups back to town to run the front office. Yet skepticism also persists about Taylor’s ability to make an offer attractive enough to lure Billups from his analyst job at ESPN. Calvin Booth, a Denver executive who the Nuggets hired away from the Timberwolves before the 2017-18 season, is increasingly mentioned as a strong candidate to replace Layden if Taylor does make a change.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Minnesota CEO Ethan Casson and GM Scott Layden walked into Thibodeau's office and fired him after the Lakers victory, league sources tell ESPN. Thibodeau was surprised at the timing, had no idea his ouster was imminent. Casson hadn't been a fan of Thibodeau era.
Jon Krawczynski: Sources tell @TheAthleticMIN that wolves evaluated Thibs and team over the last period post Jimmy Butler trade and just decided that something needed to change. The sense of urgency is through roof. Thibs informed right after game
Minnesota is sorting through what's left in Butler's wake. Taylor considered firing Thibodeau and Layden in the summer -- well before the Butler situation escalated -- and has continued to consider possibilities to eventually replace both of them, league sources said. There's immense pressure on Minnesota's management structure to see dividends on this trade.
It was nearly midnight inside the Citizen Hotel in downtown Sacramento on Friday, and Minnesota Timberwolves general manager Scott Layden was the only one in the crowded room still working. ... It was time to put the Jimmy Butler saga out to pasture. I had no clue at the time that the Timberwolves had reached their breaking point. Layden was clearly focused on his conversation, and so I waved from a distance and offered a thumbs up as a way of saying hello in the most placid way possible. To my surprise, Layden — who had spent these past two months giving thumbs downs to every trade offer that came their way — offered a thumbs up in return. Little did I know: The T-Wolves were finally going to say yes.
Once the Wolves finally came to the conclusion that a deal had to be made, owner Glen Taylor spoke personally with Sixers owner Josh Harris to push it through, sources said. The Wolves were in a difficult position from a bargaining perspective given all of the negativity, and losing, that had enveloped the franchise. The Wolves were eyeing three offers from different teams, but made the decision on Saturday to go forward with Philly’s package, sources said.
Shortly after that meeting, Butler had a conversation with Taylor to get the ball rolling on an exit strategy. Taylor was more open to the idea than Thibodeau was initially and promised to pursue all avenues to grant his request, sources said. The owner told Thibodeau and Layden on Sept. 22 to be proactive in seeking out possibilities to bring to his desk, but what followed was a mind-numbing process filled with mixed messages. Thibodeau and Layden took hard-line stances in negotiations, according to team sources who entered into the talks. Several owners reached out to Taylor directly, and while those conversations felt more productive, Taylor resisted calls to make a unilateral move.
There are people close to this situation who strongly believe that Thibs’ time in Minnesota is already unofficially over. That being said, two key factors will be taken into consideration: Money, and timing. While the $24 million he’s still owed obviously pales in comparison to what the T-Wolves’ young cornerstones are hauling in, it’s still … $24 million. Thibodeau’s arrival in April of 2016 was a big moment for this franchise that had been in the dark for quite some time, and let’s not forget that — dysfunction be darned — it was his team that broke the 14-year playoff drought.
The general feeling on that front is that he’d probably be more inclined to pursue a different, less toxic, coaching chair. As for the question of whether or not he should be having a voice on a trade here, the reality for Taylor is that he’s not a basketball man, per se, while Thibodeau and Layden are the hoops experts here.
Disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler’s emotional, profanity-laced tirade Wednesday was directed primarily at Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, as well as members of the franchise’s front office, during an unexpected practice session appearance, sources told Yahoo Sports. “I ain’t never seen some [expletive] like that. Jimbo showed out,” one of Minnesota’s players told Yahoo Sports.
Butler showed up to practice late and just subbed himself into the scrimmage on the third team to go against the starting group, league sources said. Throughout the practice, Butler verbally bashed Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden, league sources said. Screaming from the top of his lungs, Butler uttered taunts at his teammates such as “They ain’t [expletive]!” and “They soft!”, league sources said. Most of the players knew the invectives were directed at Towns and Wiggins, league sources said.
Neither Towns nor Wiggins confronted Butler at any point, league sources said. Some players were motivated by Butler’s theatrics, but others were distraught and speechless, and most notably Towns, league sources said. When practice concluded, Butler stormed out of the facility without stretching with the rest of his teammates, league sources said. However, before he departed, Wiggins gave him a hand dap, league sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: At one point in a scrimmage, sources said, Butler turned to GM Scott Layden and screamed, "You (bleeping) need me. You can't win without me." Butler left teammates and coaches largely speechless. He dominated the gym in every way. Jimmy's back.
If anyone in the league would give it a try, Thibodeau rolling the dice with Butler would rank pretty high on the gambler’s list. The Wolves front office of Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden have been known for two years as one of the most difficult to engage with, according to agents and executives around the league. So in many ways they are staying on brand in this scenario.
The Minnesota Timberwolves today additions to the team’s basketball staff for the upcoming season, promoting Todd Checovich to Scout/General Manager of the Iowa Wolves, Nick Restifo to Senior Basketball Operations Analyst and Troy Sutton to Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. The team has also named Cole Fisher as Basketball Operations Analyst, Kurt Joseph as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach and Danny Wilson as Assistant Equipment Manager.
Team owner Glen Taylor has engaged in discussions with teams about a possible trade, but those teams have been rebuffed by Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden when contacted directly, a bizarre dynamic that has several executives around the league scratching their heads. Given the chaotic nature of the situation, Butler sought and has been granted permission not to appear at the team’s media day on Monday, when every player on the roster answers questions from the media and poses for photos with teammates.
Players on the team have been searching for answers, but Thibodeau has held firm to this point, sources said. Teams continue to reach out to the Wolves to gauge their interest and begin trade talks, only to be told that Butler is not available. If this is some kind of renegade negotiating strategy aimed at causing confusion and muddying the waters, it’s working. Members of other front offices don’t know whom to contact or what to believe. But nearly all of them expect Taylor to eventually shepherd a deal to the finish line.
A meeting set between Minnesota Timberwolves four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau is expected to set the tone for Butler's final season under contract -- and his impending free agency in July, league sources told ESPN on Saturday. Just days before the start of training camp in Minneapolis, Butler and his agent, Bernie Lee, are planning to meet with Thibodeau on Monday in Minneapolis for what's expected to be a serious conversation on the franchise's fragile state, sources said.
The Butler-Towns tension is paramount, but it's hardly the only organizational drama that's threatening to undermine the franchise's current structure. Owner Glen Taylor has significant concern with the broader franchise culture under Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden -- so much so that Taylor considered changes in the offseason, league sources said. Taylor has privately second-guessed his decision to give Thibodeau full control of basketball operations as a part of hiring him as coach, league sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Jimmy Butler's meeting w/ Minnesota management early next week as @ Jon Krawczynski reports. Butler, Tom Thibodeau have had a strong relationship for years, but there are organizational issues that need to be sorted. Source on meeting: "Whatever needs to be communicated...will be."
There were even doubts internally, so much so that Rose needed assurances that the organization was on board with the move before he made the final agreement to come to Minnesota, league sources told The Athletic. Through it all, questions about Rose’s character, his health and his state of mind, Thibodeau has never flinched. “He’s got great instincts,” Thibodeau said as the regular season drew to a close. “You’re just seeing the tip of it. This year has been basically a lost year, but he’s super-talented. That’s why we picked him up. He’s played very well for us.”
October 2, 2022 | 5:47 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston Rockets center Bruno Fernando has agreed on a four-year, $10.9 million deal, his agents Andy Shiffman and Mark Bartelstein of @Priority Sports tell ESPN. Fernando will have his two-way contract coverted to this new long-term deal.
John Karalis: Mfiondu Kabengele didn’t realize he dapped up a referee who was looking for the ball after his diving play. “The ref? I was so locked in I didn’t realize that. I just saw hands and I dapped him up, for sure … apologies sir”
October 2, 2022 | 4:42 pm EDT Update
Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth reached a multiyear extension that will keep him in Denver through at least the 2024-25 season, league sources told The Denver Post. Booth took over this past summer as GM following the abrupt departure of former president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to Minnesota.
Christian Clark: CJ McCollum on finding a balance between scoring/passing: “I played with a guy who scored 50 more times than Allen Iverson. I know how to share the ball. I know how to let somebody go when they’re in a rhythm, in a groove. I’m comfortable doing whatever it takes to win.”
Christopher Hine: Austin Rivers after practice today talking about Jaden McDaniels: “My God, he’s pretty special. … He can do a little bit of everything. I don’t even think he understands how great defensively he can be. He plays hard and when he’s active, his length bothers people.”