The Charlotte Hornets received permission to speak with a few potential GM candidates to replace Rich Cho recently. Among the names given, one sticks out immensely as a good fit for this specific situation: Gersson Rosas.
Rosas is well known for his time with the Houston Rockets, having spent most of the last 14 years there. He has a scouting background, as shown by his position as USA Basketball’s international scout. Presumably, Rosas has some familiarity with analytics and contacts within that community, as a Rockets’ employee and recent Sloan panelist. He is well respected across the league, having been a candidate in prior GM searches linked to the Hawks, Pistons, Magic, and Nets. All those things make him an objectively good candidate for the league at large, but they tell us nothing about why he is so perfect for the Hornets.
The line item on his resume that should most clearly qualify him is a brief, innocuous three-month stretch as the General Manager of the Dallas Mavericks in 2013. He was on board for a mere five free agent signings: DeJuan Blair, Fab Melo, D.J. Kennedy, Mickey McConnell, and Devin Ebanks. Only Blair would make the final roster, and he would be dealt to the Wizards the next offseason. He did, in short, nothing, since the Mavericks made the big moves of their offseason — signing Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Brandan Wright, and Devin Harris as free agents at a point where the names on that list actually constituted rotation players — before he was brought on as GM. And then, abruptly, in October of that same year, he resigned. Marc Stein, then of ESPN, reported that it was about Rosas not receiving the level of team control expected.
And that is exactly what makes him perfect for the Hornets. With the firing of Rich Cho, rumors about Michael Jordan’s impact within the front office flew as they have for years. One rumor said that Rich Cho and Steve Clifford were divided on choosing Malik Monk or Donovan Mitchell. Jordan supposedly made the final decision, taking Cho’s side only because he took Clifford’s a prior time. Another rumor that’s consistently brought up is the alleged trade package offered for the ninth pick in the draft, which became Frank Kaminsky. Rich Cho may have advocated the Hornets to take those picks, but Jordan overrode him. And then, finally, even before Cho was officially terminated, it was speculated that his replacement might be Mitch Kupchak, who would be brought on to guide Buzz Peterson into the full-fledged GM role. Peterson might be very qualified, but given his relationship with Jordan — roommates at UNC — he would receive the absolute highest level of scrutiny at every step forward.
If, then, Jordan wants to stem the tide of a fanbase that is leaving him very little benefit of the doubt right now, then Rosas, someone with a clear history of claiming his territory as his own, should absolutely be the candidate. He got a job that only a small number of people in the world hold, and when it wasn’t something he could put his stamp on and own, he left. And if the Hornets organization were to do the same, the fans should absolutely expect him to do the same here.
And yeah, there are other specific factors that suit Rosas well. The path Houston took to being a superpower in the West, turning a number of middle-tier assets into bigger ones, is the only viable one that the Hornets can take. They are a small market team that does not have enough money to tank entire seasons with a clearly hopeless roster. Further, the Hornets have the only African-American owner, and Rich Cho, before his termination, was the only Asian-American GM in the league. If Charlotte hires Rosas, a native of Colombia, he becomes the only Latino GM in the league, maintaining a diverse culture. But ultimately, being able to sell the fans that it will be his team, his decisions, and his vision being implemented, is worth more than any other trait a GM candidate for the Hornets could have, and that makes him a perfect candidate.