Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations 2013-14
Vice President of Player Personnel 2009-12
Director of Player Personnel 2008-09
Director of Scouting 2007-08
Personnel Scout/Video Coordinator 2005-07
General Manager 20013 (Three months)
Whether earned or just coasting on its reputation, the biggest hot bed of executive talent currently resides at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. There resides proud super dork Daryl Morey as the general manager in charge of the turnaround of the Houston Rockets.
Morey forced his team to spend several years in self exile as a mediocre squad trying to line up pieces to rebuild from the Yao Ming-Tracy McGrady era and into a legitimate contender. He amassed draft picks and talent and waited for the time to make his play for a big star. Eventually, he landed James Harden and Dwight Howard, propelled his team to 54 wins ... and a first-round exit at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers.
The team is very much still a work in progress. But that hasn't stopped other franchises from plucking all the best talent out of the executive ranks of the Rockets franchise. Sam Hinkie was tabbed to lead the 76ers. Arturas Kanisovas was hired by the Nuggets and named assistant GM. And Gersson Rosas was hired away by the well-respected Dallas Mavericks as their new GM. Until he wasn't.
Rosas lasted just three months with the Mavericks before he begged out of his deal and returned to his home with the Rockets. Why didn't things work out in Dallas and what, if any, impact should that have when considering Rosas as a possible candidate to take the reins as the head of a Detroit Pistons franchise in desperate need for leadership?
It truly seem as if the parting with Dallas was all because it "wasn't a good fit." You see, while Rosas was appointed to the position of general manager he was actually hired to be essentially the third wheel after owner Mark Cuban, who is intimately involved in basketball decisions and his right-hand man Donnie Nelson who heads player personnel and other high-level decisions.
This is how Cuban sold the move shortly after it was announced:
"It was actually pretty straight forward," Cuban said Monday in an interview with ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. "I went to Donnie and said, ‘Hey, look, Donnie. We need to get smarter as an organization and we need to really expand what we're doing.' I mean, we try to take pride in being one of the most technologically-advanced teams out there in all of sports, not just the NBA, and to keep on pushing the envelope into new directions that I wanted to go, we wanted to ... add not just brainpower but organizational management and process power. And I asked Donnie to go out there and find out who we thought would be the best person to do that, and he came up with Gersson's name. We've been talking to him maybe a month or so, and we decided to go for it. Gersson is general manager, because we thought that would be the appropriate title. But, he'll report to Donnie, he'll work closely with me, he'll work closely with (head athletic trainer) Casey Smith and (team psychologist) Don Kalkstein, and really just give us one more smart person to interact with and to help us make smart decisions."
If all of that seems somewhat ambiguous that's because it is. Rosas was named GM but seems he was little more than another incredibly smart person to add to the organizational brain trust. And, rightly or wrongly, it was quickly apparent that the lack of organizational power didn't sit well with Rosas. From Ken Berger at CBS Sports:
Rosas, 35, had been added to an established front office led by longtime president Donnie Nelson, Keith Grant and former Pistons and Timberwolves executive Tony Ronzone. Owner Mark Cuban had been sold on the notion that Rosas could lead the basketball operations department in a new direction geared toward advanced stats and analytics, the hallmark of the successful Houston front office that Rosas left in July.
According to multiple league sources, Rosas' efforts to map a new course for a team that has made the playoffs in 12 of the past 13 seasons -- including two Finals appearances and a championship -- was met with strong resistance.
"It didn't fit from the beginning," one of the sources said. "The chemistry was simply not there."
Rosas, it seems, was too much of a maverick for the Mavericks, an organization that had little incentive to make radical changes. And it also makes sense that Rosas, as one of the hottest young executives in the NBA would rather be in a situation where he is truly the man in charge. The marriage was doomed from the beginning and I'm not sure how everyone talked themselves into it in the first place.
But there was certainly a reason that the Mavericks wanted him in the first place. And there is a reason that Rosas was a finalist for the assistant GM job with the NBA's premier franchise the San Antonio Spurs. Rosas truly is one of the brightest minds in basketball.
He started out as an intern with the Rockets before rising to video coordinator and scout. He was a key player in personnel and talent evaluation decisions for the Rockets and was eventually given the role of general manager of the Rockets' D-League affiliate the Grande Valley Vipers.
That might not seem like much of a resume builder, but the Vipers weren't simply a minor league team for also-rans and never-weres. Instead, the Rockets treated (and continue to treat) the Vipers as a grand experiment where they can put their basketball theories into practice without fear of losing important games.
The Vipers took 4,835 shots last season. Of those, 1,836 were in the restricted area and another 2,269 were from beyond the 3-point line. For those not interested in doing math, that means only 736 shots (15 percent) were not what are considered the most valuable shots in basketball. And of those 736 shots, only 280 were taken outside the paint.
To put those numbers in context, Josh Smith took just one-quarter of the shots the Vipers took as a team, but took nearly as many (619) non-3-point, non-restricted area shots as the Vipers did as a team. And he did it all by himself. And that doesn't even take into account the fact that he took 265 ill-advised 3-pointers, which he converted at a 26 percent clip.
For more on the laboratory that is the Vipers, check out this incredible Grantland piece from February.
Are the Pistons bold enough to turn over the keys to the franchise to an unproven commodity like Rosas? It is apparent that either have to go all in or all out if he were the hire. Rosas is in a position where he probably doesn't take a job unless he is given wide latitude to install the systems and procedures he wants, hire the guys he wants and create the organization he wants. If he is a success this means laying the ground work for one of the best franchises in the NBA. If it fails, it fails in spectacular fashion.
At the forefront of analytics and statistical modeling. Also using this information and putting it into practice with the Grand Valley Vipers and to a lesser extent with the Houston Rockets. Considered one of the brightest minds in basketball and a definite rising star who will certainly get a chance to run his own franchise some day.
Flamed out after three months with the Dallas Mavericks. No experience at the head of an organization. Can he do everything else required of a general manager including finding other executives for his organization, hiring the right coach, etc?