Karl-Anthony Towns was packing in Los Angeles, preparing for his return to Minneapolis for Timberwolves training camp. Then he got a call from his financial adviser.
Big changes coming.
"My phone starting going off," Towns said as Wolves players reported to training camp on Monday at Mayo Clinic Courts. "Breaking news."
DeAngelo Russell was on the golf course when he got the news. His reaction?
"I tried to focus on my next shot, to be honest," he said.
On the eve of training camp, in what at the time was an enormous surprise, the Timberwolves fired President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas last week. Now, Rosas isn't someone the players see on a day-by-day, practice-by-practice basis. That would be coach Chris Finch and his staff.
“It's just the same thing, every single time. And it's something that always leads to instability. Really, I've been through everything. ... Numerous front offices, numerous coaches.”
But it's another sea change in an organization with a years-long track record of navigating in choppy waters, another in a long line of changes that has to affect how the players feel with training camp about to start, right?
For Towns, there appears to be a little more angst. For others? Next shot, next man up.
Russell said he liked Rosas, thanked him for wooing him in free agency, for trading for him. But: "This is the world, the business we live in," he said.
But Towns has been in a Wolves uniform longer than anyone else in the locker room. The incessant change does appear to have taken a toll on the big man.
"It's something that's been a constant in my career here in Minnesota," he said.
There has been so much. Flip Saunders, who drafted him and was his first coach, succumbed to cancer. Since then? Let's just say Finch is the fifth coach Towns — who is entering his seventh season — has had in the NBA. Towns said he was joking the day before the Rosas news broke about how quiet the Wolves' offseason had been.
"What happened last week just added to that list," Towns said. "It's just the same thing, every single time. And it's something that always leads to instability. Really, I've been through everything. … Numerous front offices, numerous coaches."
And, of course, COVID-19, which took a toll on his family and claimed the life of his mother.
Towns mused about how hard it has been to get close to teammates that quickly come and go.
And then it got a bit darker. Towns talked about how he had been criticized by teammates, made a scapegoat for the team's problems.
"Hasn't been easy since I came here," he said. "But the only thing that's constant is me being the consummate professional through all of it. … At the end of the day, I've been a professional and put this organization first, in everything. Even when it required me to be, I guess, the punching bag for the world. … It's always been about the organization and I'm going to continue to do that."
Ultimately, Towns said he will control what he can control. His play, his attempt to lead his teammates, with the idea of winning as the goal.
This is what most of his teammates were saying, too:
"No matter what, we'll stay prepared, and be ready to go for this season," Malik Beasley said.
Said Josh Okogie: "I try to focus on what I can control — the energy I wake up with, I come here to display. My smile. How I compete every day."
Towns made a point to say good things about Sachin Gupta, who is now running basketball operations. The center is hopeful the ascension of Gupta to the position will have a positive impact on the Indian American community.
But in the end: "I only talk about what I can control," Towns said. "I can't control any of the front-office decisions. Never been my job."