There was nothing tentative about the way the Timberwolves-owned group spoke about Sachin Gupta at Media Day on Monday.
Gupta, who was thrust into the role of basketball boss – although retaining his previous title of executive vice president of basketball operations – is no longer operating under an interim title following the firing of Gerson Rosas last week.
The organization – led by a new ownership team of Glenn Taylor, Mark Lowrey and Alex Rodriguez – is expected to make a search to fill the dominant position. But it certainly appears that Gupta will be given a legitimate chance to win the job.
At the ownership introduction press conference to kick off Monday’s festivities, Taylor was asked how the trio of owners would go about tabbing the next president of basketball operations.
“I think we’re very fortunate to have someone with the knowledge and history at our club and in basketball that we can turn to quickly,” Taylor said in reference to Gupta. “So I believe we are ready for the future, and I think we have made our immediate decisions.”
Taylor later admitted that he would not have known Gupta as well as he would have preferred Gupta’s two years with the organization, noting that he had seen nothing like playing outside last week. But Lore said Gupta is the only person he will rely on for basketball insight as he continues to gather information about the organization.
“And I have already started building a relationship with Sachin, and he is very talented,” said Vidya. “He also demonstrates many of the core values that we want to instill in this organization, and as we flesh it out, I think that will become more apparent. But yes, it was great to know Sachin. ”
Gupta said he feels the support is “100 per cent”. His association with the ownership group is one reason Gupta is thrilled to take on the position. Gupta said the opportunity to run any NBA franchise is “very unique and incredible.” But this one, he said, “is a dream.”
“To be in this market — my wife and I have been here for a few years — we love it here,” he said.
He and Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch have a relationship that dates back to Minnesota. The two worked together in Houston, most notably for the Rio Grande Valley G-League team.
“I remember doing some of the first things I did when I came on board with the Rockets, a lot of them were projects with Sach, so we built a relationship there. Always in great touch,” Finch said. “Getting back to work with him last season was definitely a bonus. I think he’s extremely poised and one of the brightest strategic minds in the game. I appreciate his opportunity and our opportunity to work together.” Excited for the opportunity. We think very alike, and I love his approach.”
This past week “has been a little crazy for me, but it’s been fun,” Gupta said. He is reaching out to players, staff members, agents and others from around the league. He will have to adapt and learn a lot as he assumes the top position.
But he already knows a lot. After all, this is a roster he helped build.
“So we think there is consistency and consistency here. We have the same front office and the same coaching staff, the same support staff,” he said. “I have been a part of everything that happens here, and I love the talent of this roster. Feels great about it.”
Gupta said the Timberwolves have “really nice people in this building, and it hasn’t changed.”
“It’s about the players, and from their point of view we have the same goals for the season and we have the same support around them,” he said. “So I think everyone is ready to go ahead and get excited for the season.”
They will do so with Gupta’s navigating the ship.
“I’ve always wanted to work with great people and be a part of great situations, and that’s how I’ve seen my career so far,” Gupta said. “Over the years I have realized that I have confidence and I am ready to run a team.”
Gupta said Timberwolves are close to 100% vaccination status. There are two players in Minnesota who have received the vaccine and are just days away from being fully vaccinated. At that point the entire roster and staff will be fully vaccinated.
It means a lot for Karl-Anthony Towns, who suffered from COVID-19 last season and lost his mother and several family members to the virus.
“Everyone has their own beliefs, their own mindset towards it. I don’t have any problem with it. But don’t make excuses that don’t make sense. Don’t do that,” Towns said. “I’m fine with you don’t want to do this, but don’t give me an (illegitimate) excuse why you didn’t want it. All I ask is that. Shout out to those (two) players to see that it How important was it to me and as an organization they went for it and even with them were not really friendly with it. It just shows you the true respect they have for education and for all of us. ”