Just like every house needs a strong foundation, every basketball team needs key role players. We have seen teams like the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns build their rotations with players who make an impact with their individual, focused skillsets. These teams are excellent examples of how having a deep roster full of versatile players can help complement the stars and keep them from always having to carry the team.
Gersson Rosas has shown the ability to acquire affordable players who fit the team’s scheme going back to his time with the Houston Rockets. These were typically high-volume 3-point shooters. He’s taken players who were either undrafted (Chuck Hayes), second-round picks (Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Chandler Parsons), or reclamation projects (Kyle Lowry, Jordan Hill, and Goran Dragic). He has a knack for helping them reshape their careers and allowing them to create a role for themselves on a winning team.
Wolves executive vice president Sachin Gupta has made a name for himself by extending young players to four-year, team-friendly deals as a low-risk way to give an opportunity to a high-ceiling player. A special adviser under Daryl Morey in Houston and “The Process” mastermind Sam Hinkie with the Philadelphia 76ers, Gupta has worked in his fair share of unique situations.
He is known for creating ESPN’s Trade Machine, which enables fans across the league to create their own mock trades.
Minnesota has used the “Gupta Special” to sign two impact players — undrafted forward Naz Reid and second-rounder Jaylen Nowell — to non-guaranteed, four-year, $6 million contracts. These deals give the Wolves the ability to opt-out if Reid or Nowell struggle, but they are a bargain in any situation where they succeed on the court.
Building a Strong Contender
Every great team, regardless whether they are in Los Angeles or Charlotte, has role players who complement their stars. Jae Crowder, Cam Johnson, JaMychal Green, and Monte Morris play key roles in Phoenix and Denver, while Joe Harris, Bruce Brown, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope have been key to the success of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.
These players help drive winning in a meaningful way, whether it’s locking down opposing stars defensively or creating floor spacing. They are vital to team success and what separates a team with a set of stars from a bonafide contender.
The Wolves have multiple players who can make an impact off the bench. Reid acted as the backup center and played next to KAT, stretching the floor from the corner and the top of the break. Nowell looks like he can become the 3-and-D player every team covets. And Jaden McDaniels was the lockdown defender and an astute help-side defender to aid KAT’s defensive lapses.
Rosas’ Key Ability
Rosas has shown the ability to acquire complementary players who fit his scheme while staying under the salary cap. In addition to Reid, Nowell, and McDaniels, he signed Jordan McLaughlin as an undrafted free agent to be a backup point guard.
He would find players who would space the floor for James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston, and who could hold their own defensively. The front office continually found affordable options who fit Mike D’Antoni’s system and could fill in around the core pieces.
Minnesota will need to find talent around the edges in order to build a winner in the immediate future, because they will be pressed against the salary cap for the next two years.
With few roster spots to fill this next season, adding a few Gupta Specials similar to Nowell and Naz will be vital to the team’s success. They should bring in players with upside who could eventually be signed to larger contracts when the Wolves have more cap space after the 2023-24 season. The next step should be adding an affordable veteran to help guide all the young talent in the locker room.
Given that the salary cap will be tied up the next two seasons, we’ll find out quickly if the Russell trade will pay dividends or if it’s an albatross. Building around the KAT and DLo as their core max players isn’t incredibly intriguing, so outside of Anthony Edwards’ ascension, adding role players around them will be vital to their success. Trust the Prosas? I’d say so. He has proven he can turn unorthodox pairings into winners by placing affordable 3-and-D players around them.