Before the season began, Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas said to expect some growing pains from a young Wolves team.
But speaking before the Wolves' 120-110 victory over New Orleans, Rosas said the current state of the team — which had lost 11 of 12 entering Saturday — was unacceptable and said everyone in the organization, including himself, had to do better.
Their poor performance of late, which included multiple lopsided losses and a fourth-quarter collapse vs. Orlando, had no excuses, he said, whether it be youth, restrictions on the team because of coronavirus or the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns for much of the season.
"We're who our record says we are," Rosas told the Star Tribune. "I didn't anticipate this year to be easy. This was another growing and developing year. But at the same time, we're not up to our capabilities and that's to be competitive. Regardless of who's here, we've got to do a better job of competing game in and game out …
"And when I say everybody, it's everybody. It starts with me and my staff. It starts with coach [Ryan Saunders] and his staff, and it starts with the players."
The frustration has permeated the organization, Rosas said, adding that he understands the anger fans have toward the product the Wolves are putting on the floor.
"They're justifiable in being upset," he said.
The Wolves also went through prolonged struggles last season, but Rosas hadn't yet remade the roster in the vision he had for the franchise. That isn't the case this year with players like D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley in town, and Rosas said the Wolves are behind in terms of the progress he envisioned them making.
"It's frustrating and it's disappointing. We should be further ahead," Rosas said. "We've got a group in place here that can be competitive. … We have young players, but we have players that fit our system. We have players that have the potential to grow and develop and make us a winning organization. That's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take time. But we have enough here to be competitive."
That hasn't happened on a regular basis lately. And when the Wolves have been competitive, they hadn't closed out fourth-quarter leads before Saturday. Fans want someone to blame and a lot of heat has come on Saunders, especially on nights like Wednesday when the Wolves lose games they should have won.
But Rosas said criticism directed solely at Saunders was misguided. Saunders has to be better, Rosas said, just like everyone in the organization.
"We have to own it from top to bottom," Rosas said. "We're not doing enough and we have to do better. That starts with me. That starts with coach and everybody in our organization. To pinpoint to one thing, one transaction, one person to change everything, that's not going to happen."
Asked to offer a concrete way he and the team can get better, Rosas said the Wolves have to "play to our strengths" and improve their 29th-ranked offense.
Nobody expected the Wolves win a lot of games without Towns, but in the 10 games they played without him before Saturday's, the Wolves had shown few signs of progress. Rosas said right now the Wolves haven't fostered an environment that is allowing their young players to grow at the rate they expect. The Wolves are searching for an identity, and Rosas said they have to search harder — and better.
"The reality is our lack of identity on both sides of the ball is hurting them," Rosas said. "We're fortunate we have good people on and off the court that hate to lose and they're working their tails off, but … nobody here is happy with where we're at or is comfortable with the current state of affairs in this organization. … We have to create an environment, a system, an identity that helps our young guys and gives them an opportunity to fill roles."