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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

Basketball

This is how Timberwolves reportedly learned of Gersson Rosas affair

Gersson Rosas

The abrupt firing of Minnesota Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas looks set to remain a major story, and we continue to learn more about how quickly Rosas’ transgressions came to light.

Reports surfaced Thursday indicating Rosas was fired in part for engaging in an “inappropriate relationship” with a fellow member of the organization. Rosas’ actions did not come to light until very recently, and did not become known throughout the organization and the league until Wednesday.

A new report indicates that Rosas was stunningly public in carrying on the affair, which helped lead to his downfall. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, team officials became aware of Rosas’ affair when presented with a series of photographs. The photographs allegedly show Rosas and a female Timberwolves staffer, both of whom are married, kissing in a suite at last Saturday’s Minnesota United FC match. The soccer club had reserved luxury seating for several members of the organization, including Rosas and the female staffer.

In one close-up photograph, Rosas and the woman are seen sitting beside each other. In another, they are seen leaning toward each other to embrace.

The identity of the woman has not been disclosed publicly, though a second employee also left the organization on Wednesday.

Report: Karl-Anthony Towns unlikely to request trade from Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns

Opposing NBA teams are now likely eyeing Karl-Anthony Towns’ situation in Minnesota like jittery drivers hunting for a parking spot. They may be out of luck for the time being though.

Timberwolves writer Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic appeared Thursday on SiriusXM NBA Radio and said Towns is unlikely to ask out of Minnesota.

“Karl-Anthony Towns has weathered a lot of drama in his six years here,” said Krawczynski. “So far, there are no indications that he is ready to go that route. I know the team has engaged directly with him and his representation over the last 24 hours to try and send a new message and get everyone on board and let them know what they’re thinking and what they’re doing.”

It is reasonable to question Towns’ commitment to the Wolves amid recent events. The former No. 1 overall pick was clearly very taken aback by the team’s sudden firing of president Gersson Rosas this week. The Wolves have also made the playoffs just once during Towns’ career (a first-round exit in 2018) and are now on their fourth head coach since his rookie season.

The 25-year-old Towns is under contract through 2024 though. He has also reaffirmed his commitment to Minnesota throughout all their drama, and nothing about that appears to be changing just yet.

Joel Embiid thinks Sixers can still fix Ben Simmons situation?

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid apparently still has yet to give up on his partner in The Process.

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reported this week that the Philadelphia 76ers star Embiid has privately insisted that the team can fix the situation with Ben Simmons if they just get him back in the gym and around teammates. Neubeck adds that Embiid has also publicly stumped for Simmons.

Embiid and Simmons are the two cornerstones (and two of the last men standing for that matter) of the Sixers’ “Trust the Process” era. In many ways, the end of their partnership without ever making it past the second round would ultimately constitute a failure of the entire Process.

The star center Embiid has said many times, even as recently as this month, that he loves playing with Simmons. Much has been made about a supposed rift between the two. But Embiid still seems to be holding out hope that he can run it back with his co-star.

Report: Timberwolves drama will not impact Ben Simmons pursuit

Ben Simmons

The Minnesota Timberwolves are dealing with significant upheaval in their front office at an awkward time, but it does not appear that any of it will change the team’s long-term plans.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic said on his podcast, “The Jon Krawczynski Show,” that he anticipates the Timberwolves will remain interested in Ben Simmons despite the firing of Gersson Rosas as team president.

“I do fully expect that they will not let this get in the way of any kind of pursuit of Ben Simmons,” Krawczynski said. “I think that they view Simmons as the kind of piece that could really vault them into playoff contention and in the end, for them, the only thing that has changed is who might try to do the trade and not anything else.”

Krawczynski added that Sachin Gupta, the team’s interim president, has a better relationship with 76ers GM Daryl Morey than Rosas did.

The Timberwolves have been one of the few teams consistently interested in Simmons, who wants out of Philadelphia. It would have been justifiable to think a major change at the top might change the organization’s plans, but Simmons is evidently still on the radar.

Mavericks have parted ways with controversial executive

Mark Cuban

After the exits of GM Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle earlier this offseason, the Dallas Mavericks are seeing another high-profile departure.

Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that the Mavs have parted ways with controversial executive Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris. The move was not a firing however, Townsend adds. Voulgaris’ contract simply expired and was not renewed by new GM Nico Harrison.

Voulgaris said on Twitter that he actually asked to be let out of his contract and was denied. He then waited for it to expire.

The 46-year-old Voulgaris, a former sports gambler, was hired in 2018 as the Mavs’ director of quantitative research and development. He quickly rose through the ranks of the organization and was even described as the second-most powerful man on the team behind owner Mark Cuban.

Voulgaris was extremely unpopular with Mavs franchise player Luka Doncic though. The two reportedly had multiple heated incidents last year. Doncic had even taunted team personnel over Voulgaris’ influence, which included a say in lineup decisions and rotations. The Mavs are now looking for a fresh start under the team of Harrison and new coach Jason Kidd, and Voulgaris will not be a part of it.

Report: Warriors concerned about Andrew Wiggins’ availability due to vaccine status

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins was the Golden State Warriors’ second-leading scorer last season, but now there is some very real concern about his availability for next season.

Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle reported this week that the Warriors are becoming increasingly concerned about the status of Wiggins, who is unvaccinated. The San Francisco Department of Public Health will be requiring proof of full vaccination to enter large indoor events, like games at the Chase Center. This requirement applies to all employees of the Chase Center, including Warriors players but not visiting players on other teams.

Some believe that Wiggins will be granted a religious exemption by the NBA, Simmons adds. But the City of San Francisco has the power to override such an exemption within the city. The Warriors also reportedly connected the ex-No. 1 overall pick Wiggins with an Oakland area doctor who understands issues regarding vaccine hesitancy. Wiggins’ anti-vaccine stance remained unchanged after the encounter though, despite the doctor explaining the suffering and death that she had witnessed in treating COVID-19 patients.

The Warriors open the season at home against the LA Clippers on Oct. 21. Wiggins could potentially lose a lot of money if he is denied entry to home games at the Chase Center for remaining unvaccinated. It would also leave the Warriors without one of their better two-way players, which would hurt especially with Klay Thompson not expected back until well into the season.

Report: Bri Bauer removed from Timberwolves’ website same day as Gersson Rosas

Bri Bauer Timberwolves

Gersson Rosas was abruptly fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday for seemingly no good reason.

One story on the firing tries to sell it as being for performance reasons. But it’s hard to believe that. Why would someone, whose performance is a problem, be allowed to make several roster moves in the last few weeks, as Rosas was?

Another report says that Rosas was fired for having a toxic culture and an “inappropriate relationship” at work. That report said another employee abruptly left the organization on Wednesday.

A Minneapolis reporter noted that Bri Bauer, the VP of Communications & Engagement, was no longer listed on the team’s website on Wednesday.

Bauer was hired by the team in 2019, about four months after Rosas.

Bauer’s Twitter account has also been deactivated.

The Athletic’s story on the matter says that the Timberwolves recently discovered that the married Rosas was having a consensual intimate relationship with a member of the organization. The relationship reportedly made some in the organization uncomfortable and contributed to the timing of Rosas’ firing.

There is no word on whether Bauer being removed from the Timberwolves’ website and deactivating her Twitter account are related to Rosas’ dismissal.

Report: Gersson Rosas fired for ‘inappropriate relationship’

Gersson Rosas

Gersson Rosas was abruptly fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. The decision seemed to come as a surprise to one of the team’s players.

Now we appear to know why he was let go from his post as president of basketball operations.

WCCO’s Mike Max reported on Wednesday that Rosas created a culture that allegedly was toxic. Max also reportedly had an “inappropriate relationship” inside the organization.

Max’s story noted that another employee also left the organization abruptly on Wednesday. That may corroborate the report about Rosas having an inappropriate relationship.

This helps explain the surprising firing.

Rosas was hired in 2019 and has not had much of an opportunity to turn things around. He also recently was extremely active with the team’s roster.

Typically, an employee who is on his way out wouldn’t be allowed to make that many moves. So this report could help explain why he was dismissed do suddenly. Now we wonder a little more about what Karl-Anthony Towns was tweeting about.

Warriors owner Joe Lacob gets tampering fine for Ben Simmons comments

Joe Lacob

How strict are the NBA’s anti-tampering guidelines? You can still get fined even when you are denying interest in a player — and without mentioning the player by name.

That is the case for Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, who received a $50,000 tampering fine on Wednesday. In a statement, the league said the fine was a result of Lacob’s comments about Ben Simmons.

Lacob tried to avoid this by referring to Simmons as the “Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Philadelphia,” but that was not enough. Ironically, Lacob didn’t have a lot of positive things to say about Simmons, and his comments made it fairly clear the Warriors weren’t likely to have interest in trading for the disgruntled star.

We probably shouldn’t be surprised that Lacob didn’t avoid a fine. The NBA has handed down even bigger fines for pretty mild things in the past, showing just how seriously they enforce the tampering policy.

Report: Damian Lillard hesitant to request trade because of interesting reason

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard has decided to give it another shot with the Portland Trail Blazers. But he might have already asked out if not for the risk of having his old takes exposed.

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reported this week that sources believe Lillard is being held back from requesting a trade because of his loyalty to Portland and an unwillingness to go back on what he has said in the past about sticking it out with them.

The six-time All-Star Lillard has been a lifelong Blazer since they drafted him back in 2012. But he has only made it as far as the conference finals with them, sandwiched between several disappointing early playoff exits. Rumors earlier in the offseason suggested that Lillard might demand a trade, but he has since put that speculation to rest.

Indeed, Lillard has proclaimed that he would not sell out to win a title. He has even mocked some of his NBA peers for switching teams. At this point, it seems that Lillard’s adherence to his word may be all that is keeping him in Portland for now.