Gersson Rosas’ climb to the top of his profession has been a meteoric one, as just a decade ago he was a Rockets intern working in the team’s video department. Suddenly he’s part of the Mavs’ ‘Triangle of Trust’ – or, really, for now, maybe a ‘Quadrangle of Questions’ as he comes to Dallas with the title ‘GM.’ We answer some questions here:
Gersson Rosas’ climb to the top of his profession has been a meteoric one, as just a decade ago he was a Houston Rockets intern working in the team’s video department. Suddenly he’s part of the Mavs’ ‘Triangle of Trust’ – or, really, for now, maybe a ‘Quadrangle of Questions’ as he comes to Dallas with the title ‘general manager.’ We answer some of the questions here:
Question: What’s Gersson Rosas’ background?
Rosas, 35, is a native of Bogota, Columbia, and has a coaching history at the University of Houston and with the Venezuelan national team. He spent three seasons as the Rockets’ video coordinator, in 2008 was the director of scouting, was director of player personnel in 2008-09 and from 2009-12 was vice President of player personnel. Last year, Houston elevated him to “Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations’’ maybe in part because other teams (including the Spurs) were considering as a GM.
One year later, Gersson Rosas is the general manager of the Dallas Mavericks.
Question: What about Donnie Nelson?
Nelson has held the dual title of “President and General Manager’’ for the last six years. The trust level between owner Mark Cuban and Donnie is sky-high – even as Cuban performs his usual and annual “self-evaluation’’ of the franchise. Before team owner Mark Cuban made a late-afternoon appearance on the team's flagship station KESN to acknowledge the move, Mavs sources had been very careful to whisper that Nelson is “involved’’ with the hire, and DB.com was told Donnie will carry on as the “President of Basketball Operations’’ overseeing Rosas in the chain of command.
"We try to take pride in being one of the most technologically advanced teams in all of sports, not just the NBA, and to keep on pushing the envelope in directions that I wanted to go, we needed to not just add brainpower but organizational management and process power,'' Cuban said in the interview. "I asked Donnie to go out there and find out who he thought would be the best person to do this, and he came back with Gersson's name."
Nelson’s body of NBA work is strong, but that doesn’t mean a re-evaluation is unnecessary, obviously. Donnie is getting help here … but our understanding is the “help’’ will have the authority to push hard for change.
What are Rosas’ specific duties?
The club intends to make that clearer in an upcoming press conference to announce the hire first revealed by Yahoo. Sources familiar with Rosas cite his technological expertise, and his ties with Houston boss Darryl Morey strengthen our thoughts of him as an “analytics guy.’’
But consider Morey’s quote from a year ago, when Rosas was elevated by the Rockets. …
"Gersson is one of the best basketball evaluators and executives in the NBA,” said Morey. “He has been key to the success we have had in the draft and all personnel moves during his tenure. He is one of the fastest rising executives in the industry."
That reinforces the truth of what Dallas believes it is getting here: A full-fledged basketball executive with experience in coaching, scouting, administration and even overseas connections.
In that sense Rosas shares characteristics with Nelson, and their shares backgrounds continue right down to the D-League. Nelson is also the owner of the Mavs’ minor-league affiliate, the Texas Legends. Rosas has for three seasons doubled as the GM for Houston's D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
What motivated the move?
It’s understandable to wish to attach such a major hiring to some cause-and-effect major issue. “Houston got Dwight so if you can’t beat ‘em, get ‘em to join you’’? “Having to give a next-year pick in order to get someone to take the last-year pick Jared Cunningham off your hands’’?
This isn’t about luring free agents; Cuban had been the point man in those efforts, philosophically and beyond. But the draft issues? Those are very real. An effort to greater value the draft? We’ve called for that repeatedly, and this may be a nod to that.
Cunningham sticks out. One year after he was chosen, Dallas had to bribe someone with a pick to get rid of him the next. Lamar Odom sticks out, the Mavs giving away a pick for a bum. Roddy B … DoJo. … Ager … Shan … we might be able to go all the way back to P-Pod to suggest that whatever Dallas has been doing hasn’t been working well enough.
Indeed, on the very day the Mavs seal the deal for new leadership, they completed a trade-away of Nick Calathes, the former second-rounder who seems to have developed into the sort of player they once envisioned … but yet they traded him to Memphis for a junk second-round pick.
Dallas’ use of draft picks looks like a combination of risk-taking (trying to hit a surprise homerun with the likes of Beaubois) and indifference (which simply cannot be true … but it looks that way.)
Is there anything odd about the timing?
No, not if you understand the way sports franchises prefer to work.
I can imagine the Mavs loving the idea of hiring Houston’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, say, in the middle of April. That sure would’ve helped the Mavs collect draft info! Or, hire him in the middle of June, right as he was preparing his contribution to the Dwight recruitment! That would’ve really rocked the Rockets!
The reason that didn’t happen, quite [probably, is because Rosas’ existing employer wasn’t going to let it happen. You see this pattern consistently in pro sports when it comes to firing scouts; teams do it following the draft, not before, in order to milk the employee of all he’s got.
The Rockets would’ve been wise to insist on the same.
Does Mark Cuban deserve some props here?
We believe so. First of all, for being able to steal away a coveted NBA exec. But more than that, maybe, for being able to admit that something about “his baby’’ wasn’t working just right – and going quickly about the business of fixing it.
My strength is in pushing the envelope," Cuban told the station. "Donnie's strength is in talent evaluation and pushing the international envelope. We really needed somebody with stronger organizational and management skills to pull all these pieces together. As we continue to add new pieces, we just needed that strength.
Our David Lord often notes that Cuban – by far the most cap/rules-educated owner in the NBA – carries a heavy burden. If he’s hired an executive in Gersson Rosas who can help Cuban be better, who can help Donnie be better, and who can improve everything from the club’s talent evaluations to its trade negotiations, the “credit’’ can start here and hopefully show up on the court.