Timberwolves

What’s Rosas’ Next Move with Beasley?

Feb 8, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley (5) shoots over Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during the second half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Trading for Malik Beasley seemed like Gersson Rosas’ signature move. No, it wasn’t bringing Kevin Garnett back or trading for Jimmy Butler on draft night, but it looked incredibly savvy at the time. Most executives want to make a splash early, get the fans on their side, and show they know what they’re doing. This appeared to be it for Rosas.

Trading for D’Angelo Russell was Rosas’ highest-profile move, but it was mostly done to move off of the Andrew Wiggins contract and satisfy star player Karl-Anthony Towns by pairing him with a close friend. However, that move hasn’t worked out so far because KAT and DLo have only played five games together, and Russell is a max player who did not drive winning when Towns was unable to play.

So far, Rosas has shown mastery with smaller moves that round out a roster, like signing Naz Reid and Jordan McLaughlin and drafting Jaden McDaniels. But trading for Beasley is more impactful. He is the kind of player who could be a star sixth man on a contender.

Rosas admittedly came into a tough situation, taking over for Tom Thibodeau after he went all-in on Jimmy and the TimberBulls, only to have Butler force his way out after creating untenable discontent in the locker room and eventually among the fan base. Rosas was the anti-Thibs. He spoke of sustainable winning and wanting to create a family culture. And he had the credentials of being part of the Houston Rockets front office that traded James Harden and came within a Chris Paul injury of making the Finals.

So trading for a player buried on the Denver Nuggets bench, a dead-eye from three who gives full effort on every possession, seemed like a surefire win. He appeared to cherish the playing time and seemed perturbed by the constant losing. Rosas was the guy who could find the players everyone else was overlooking and give them the opportunity to be stars. Beasley was the shooter he needed in his system whose desire to win would galvanize the rest of the team.

It’s been a weird year, to say the least, so we’re probably willing to permit almost anything at this point. But who saw Beasley’s offseason coming? Pointing a shotgun at a family trespassing on his rented Plymouth mansion? Having enough weed inside to smoke out the entire west metro? Divorcing his wife after being caught shopping with Larsa Pippen in Miami?

That’s a lot.

After pleading guilty to a felony count of threats of violence, he’ll serve 120 days in jail to be spent either in the county workhouse or in home confinement after the Wolves season ends, and the NBA just suspended him 12 games without pay — costing him $1.1 million.

Set aside the drug charge for now (there were 1.75 pounds of marijuana in the house, which Beasley told officers belonged to his ex-wife, Montana Yao), which was dropped. Forget his relationship with Scottie Pippen’s ex-wife, which is tabloid fodder. Let’s unpack the threats of violence charge.

Pointing a shotgun at trespassers is glamorized in popular culture, and Beasley’s actions almost universally conjured images of Clint Eastwood growling at children who entered his property in Gran Torino — the 2008 film based on a screenplay conjured by Nick Schenk at Grumpy’s in Northeast Minneapolis, of all places. But while the “get off my lawn” meme has become a comical pop-culture fodder, Beasley’s actions traumatized the family he threatened.

According to a Star Tribune report after Beasley’s sentence, he pointed the gun at a pregnant woman, her husband, and teenage daughter after they drove up to his house. The woman said she was nearly 37 weeks pregnant and spent the rest of her pregnancy on bed rest. The man and woman both struggled emotionally to the point that she lost an employment contract and he had to take a one-month leave from his duties as a financial executive. Their daughter has been “extra quiet since the incident” and has needed help to keep up with her schoolwork.

The couple were on a Parade of Homes tour and were among many people who had driven through a rope barrier to reach Beasley’s residence. Beasley tried to have the home removed from the tour, and it was removed from their website, but a Parade of Homes spokesperson said it remained in the printed guide distributed weeks earlier.

Beasley expressed consternation with the situation, telling Hennepin County District Judge Hilary Caligiuri on Feb. 9 that he “was worried and in fear for the safety of us,” referring to his then-wife and their child, and that the countless vehicles that approached the house day and night, “caused me to be frustrated in this situation.”

He was contrite in his statement to the court, saying that he “made some very bad mistakes” that he regrets, adding, “I humbly apologize for my actions.” He expressed a desire to apologize to the family face-to-face, but he was directed to write a letter and have it delivered by an intermediary because he is banned from having contact with them.

The league’s decision to suspend him 12 games without pay comes down to two things: setting a precedent and concern about their image. They want to show they have no tolerance for threatening acts among players in the NBA. But Rosas’ approach to this should be different. Like any GM, his job is to stand up for his players. This is a guy he traded for and gave a $60 million contract.

“As an organization, we fully support today’s decision by the NBA,” Rosas said in a statement issued shortly after the suspension was announced. “As we work together with Malik to advance his development as a player and a person, we look forward to seeing his growth.”

We’re still not entirely certain who Rosas is. He had last year’s Wolves take a team-bonding trip to the Bahamas and then traded everyone but KAT and Josh Okogie. He preaches having a family culture but had a deal in place for Ryan Saunders’ replacement immediately upon firing him. He comes from an organization that had success because it was aggressive, but his moves have all had mixed results so far.

Just to be clear, the roster he inherited from Thibodeau was terrible; it’s perfectly reasonable to overhaul it as soon as possible. He was probably strongly encouraged to keep Saunders on board because of who Ryan is as a person, his approach to modern basketball, and because of his last name — and it’s expected for an executive to want to bring in his own guy, especially one as well qualified as Chris Finch. And no matter how you feel about Beasley off the court, Towns, Russell, and Okogie have been socially active and assets in the community.

In short, Rosas hasn’t been here very long, and that’s why we’re not sure what to make of him yet.

But what he does with Beasley will be illuminating. His shooting, effort, and winning mentality are something the Wolves need. He is also on arguably the most team-friendly contract in the NBA. If Rosas trades Beasley, does that mean he’s giving up on his player because Beasley experienced a windfall and seemed to let things get out of hand? Maybe, maybe not. If Rosas keeps him, does that mean he’s endorsing Beasley’s actions? Not necessarily.

Everyone has their mind made up on guns and weed. They have their convictions on whether or not his suspension or legal punishment was overbearing or too lenient. But we also don’t know who Beasley is. Hopefully, he’s sincere in his apologies to the family he threatened, and he’s also no longer bothered at his place of residence. Maybe he’s never suspended again and is seen as a model citizen in a few years. He could end up being part of the winning formula here.

Rosas has a better idea of who Beasley is. He traded for him. He signed him. And now we’ll see how committed to him he is as a player and a person.

Eventually, we’ll know if this was his signature move.

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Feb 8, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley (5) shoots over Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during the second half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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