The Wednesday dismissal of Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas days before training camp caught the NBA by surprise.
A report from The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania Wednesday evening sheds light on the decision.
Per the report, Rosas faced internal accusations of running a dysfunctional front office that was filled with tension and described as "not sustainable" by sources. Rosas also faced internal criticism over personnel decisions and how he managed them, according to the report. The complaints reached as high as team owner Glen Taylor and incoming minority team owners Marc Lore and former MLB All-Star Alex Rodriguez, who are slated to take over controlling team ownership in the coming years.
Those concerns simmered for much of Rosas' two-plus-year tenure in Minnesota, per the report. When news surfaced internally that Rosas was allegedly having an extramarital affair with a team staffer, team ownership felt added urgency to cut ties with him, according to the report.
The alleged affair wasn't the reason for Rosas' dismissal, according to the report. But it played a role in why he was fired just days before the start of training camp and in the midst of a team effort to acquire disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons.
"This decision was made for performance reasons,” a Timberwolves source the report describes as "high-ranking" said.
Report: Long hours, low input
Sources told The Athletic that Rosas expected front-office staff to work long hours without having any input in the decision-making process. “He’s not who I thought he was," a staffer who followed Rosas from the Houston Rockets to Minnesota told The Athletic.
A protégé of Daryl Morey who spent 16 seasons the Rockets' front office, Rosas joined the Timberwolves from Houston in 2019.
The report also cites multiple Rosas "backers" in the organization who described a work environment where people could speak freely. They cited internal tension to stressors brought on by the COVID-19 work environment that has seen few breaks in the NBA schedule since the league resumed play after the onset of the pandemic.
Neither Rosas nor Taylor responded to The Athletic's report as of Wednesday evening.
Report: D'Angelo Russell trade rankled some in front office
As for the personnel criticism in the report, some on staff weren't happy with the parameters of the trade to acquire D'Angelo Russell from the Warriors, which came with light protections on first-round picks sent to Golden State.
Tensions also rose after Rosas blocked executive vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta from making a lateral move to the Rockets with higher pay, according to the report. Rosas didn't want to see Gupta join a rival ahead of the draft and free agency armed with proprietary information, according to the report.
That tension lingered until team ownership convinced Gupta to stay in Minnesota. The Timberwolves reportedly promoted Gupta to Rosas' old role in the interim with a chance to remain the team's top executive on a permanent basis.
Members of the staff were also unhappy with how former head coach Ryan Saunders was fired last season and with the dismissal of longtime scout Zarko Durisic, per the report. Some player agents were also critical of Rosas in the report, with one declaring that Rosas "pulled his promises."
The Timberwolves posted records of 19-45 (2019-20) and 23-49 (2020-21) since hiring Rosas. He oversaw the 2019 and 2020 drafts that had the Timberwolves acquire first-round picks Jarrett Culver and Anthony Edwards, who was selected first overall in 2020 and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball.
The Timberwolves traded both of their 2021 draft picks to the Warriors in the Russell trade. The first-round pick translated to the No. 7 selection, which the Golden State used to pick G League forward Jonathan Kuminga.