Gersson Rosas is not your typical candidate for an NBA GM job. He wasn't born into basketball royalty like Bryan Colangelo or Danny Ferry. And he didn't grow up in the basketball-crazed culture like Arturas Karnisovas. He is a Colombian who fell in love with the game.
As he worked toward his degree at the University of Houston -- and becoming a bigger and bigger fan of the sport, Rosas followed a time-honored climb up the front office ladder , starting out as an intern with the Rockets before rising to video coordinator and scout.
As Adrian Wojnarowski writes, "
n his 13th year with the Rockets, Rosas, a native of Bogota, Colombia, has been the franchise's Executive VP for five years and worked closely with GM Daryl Morey in remaking the roster and building a 2014-15 Western Conference finalist. Rosas played a prominent role in the Rockets' reshaping of the roster in the post-Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady era, when the franchise traded McGrady for multiple draft picks and built up the assets needed to acquire star James Harden via trade and lure Dwight Howard in free agency.
Rosas reportedly played a significant part in bringing Patrick Beverley from Europe as a free agent and drafting a future max-contract player, Chandler Parsons, with the 38th pick of the draft. During those years, (his rival Arturas) Karnisovas was the Rockets' director of scouting.
Rosas also has "strong personal and working relationships with two potential coaching candidates, Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau," Woj notes. Both coaches worked with Rosas in Houston.
Another particularly appealing line in his resume is his three years as GM of the Rio Grande Vipers, the Rockets D-League team. It shows that he can manage a roster, man a Draft Room, even if at the D-League level, and develop continuity in an organization. He can also win. While with the Vipers, the team won two D-League championships. (It's something of a hole in Karnisovas resume.)
He can keep his counsel as well. One interesting aspect of the Harden deal: it was totally stealth. No one knew until the last minute the deal was going down. Similarly, the Rockets signing of Howard was a surprise. He could have gotten more money, more security with the Lakers
He does have one blot on his record In 2014, Rosas joined the Mavericks as GM, which was actually two rungs down in basketball operations, below Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson. Cuban sought him out because he thought he could revitalize the stagnant Mavs front office. Here's what he said about Rosas when he hired him...
"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."
The honeymoon was over quickly. The marriage lasted just three months with the Mavericks. Reportedly, he didn't think that Cuban was willing to give him the power he needed and he didn't want to be ownership's yes man. So, back to the Rockets, he went, welcomed by the team owner and Morey. . He's since been on short lists in Detroit and elsewhere. Now he's got a shot at the Nets job.
Will his flirtation --and failure-- hurt him with the Nets? Not necessarily. It shows he will stand up to a strong owner and if things don't work out, he's not going to rubber stamp decisions ownership wants. That's a good thing.