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Talking Timberwolves: What the team's new president of basketball operations brings to Minnesota

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Gersson Rosas
In this Aug. 15, 2013 photo, then-Dallas Mavericks general manager Gersson Rosas walks off the stage after an NBA news conference in Dallas.
LM Otero | AP 2013

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a new president of basketball operations — who will bring a new approach to efforts to lift the talented team to the next level in the NBA.

Gersson Rosas comes to Minnesota after a long stint with the Houston Rockets, where he was among the pioneers in data-driven decisions for both strategy on the court and building the roster. The team officially announced the hire on Friday and will formally introduce Rosas at a news conference on Monday.

MPR's Jeffrey Bissoy and John Wanamaker discussed the hire, and what it means for the Timberwolves' current roster and coaching staff.

"By signing Rosas, they're moving toward the NBA trend, which is looking at the numbers, looking at being efficient. ... You should expect him to come in firing right away, looking at the numbers, and trying to instill that new culture," Bissoy said.

Rosas will have to decide whether to keep current general manager Scott Layden and interim head coach Ryan Saunders. Bissoy said Saunders may be a good fit for Rosas' analytical approach.

"When (Saunders) came in as the interim (he) preached that he wanted to get into a little more NBA analytics ... For an organization that hasn't typically gone that route, it will be interesting to see how they end up pairing something together, if Saunders ends up sticking around."

Rosas will be looking for ways for the Timberwolves to be more successful after just one appearance in the playoffs over the past 15 years. He comes from a Houston team that has reached the playoffs for the seventh straight year.

Rosas, a native of Colombia, rose from intern to vice president of basketball operations with the Rockets. With the Timberwolves, he will be the highest-ranking Latino in a front office. Rosas said in a recent interview with ESPN that he didn't speak English when his family moved from Colombia to Houston as a youth, and that his desire to become an NBA general manager dates back to high school.

Rosas replaces Tom Thibodeau, who was fired at midseason from his dual role as president and coach, halfway into a five-year contract. Seeking stronger collaboration between the basketball and business sides of the organization and a younger, more innovative leader, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor opened up the search as soon as the regular season ended. 

After making the playoffs last year for the first time since 2004, the Timberwolves — packed with a lot of young talent but also plagued by injuries — regressed on their way to a 36-46 finish this past season. 

Bissoy and Wanamaker also talked about Timberwolves' players who are free agents — who may stay, who may leave — as well as free agents who may sign on with Minnesota. And they looked at the outlook for the teams remaining in the NBA playoffs — as well as teams to watch next season in the league.

Listen to the full conversation using the audio player above.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.