Mavs set to add new GM Rosas with strong analytical background

DALLAS — Add another face to the Dallas Mavericks’ front-office brass.

Monday morning, reports began to surface that the Mavericks would be hiring a new general manager to join forces with owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. Cuban then confirmed the reports later in the day, tabbing former Houston Rockets vice president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas as the man for the job.

The 35-year-old Rosas climbed up the rankings in Houston during his nine-year stint after originally joining the organization as an intern. He will now report to Nelson, who relinquishes the GM duties he’s held since his father, Don, left the Mavs in 2005.

“It was actually pretty straight forward,” Cuban said Monday in an interview with ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “I went to Donnie and said, ‘Hey, look, Donnie. We need to get smarter as an organization and we need to really expand what we’re doing.’ I mean, we try to take pride in being one of the most technologically-advanced teams out there in all of sports, not just the NBA, and to keep on pushing the envelope into new directions that I wanted to go, 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.”

Rosas worked closely with Rockets GM Daryl Morey while helping to build Houston’s roster into a Western Conference contender. The native of Bogota, Colombia also gained coaching experience at the University of Houston and with the Venezuelan national team. But, after helping Houston’s D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, win two championships, it’s Rosas’ organizational skills and analytical expertise that made him attractive to the Mavericks, according to Cuban.

“We really expanded our analytics group. We’re developing and expanding what I’m calling ‘bio-analytics’ and we’re extending into other areas. And, if you want to keep on pushing the envelope in new technology areas to try to give us an edge, you’ve got to have somebody who has experience in managing those things. You know, my strength is pushing the envelope. Donnie’s strength is in talent evaluation and pushing the international envelope, and we really needed somebody with stronger organizational and management skills to pull all these pieces together. And, as we continue to add new pieces, we just needed that strength. When we found somebody with that process and management skills, like Gersson, and also someone who’s had experience working with an analytics group, working with the D-League team and working in talent evaluation, that was just an added plus that made him the perfect candidate,” Cuban explained.

He added: “When I said analytics, I said ‘bio-analytics.’ I mean, traditional analytics we’ve been doing a long time, and we think we’re pretty good at it. You know, you always want new viewpoints, and Gersson will definitely bring that with the things he’s done with Daryl in Houston. Daryl is really smart in analytics, but I don’t expect a whole lot of new stuff there. Whatever we learn is great, but we’re really starting to push the envelope in everything from genetic testing to blood analysis to performance technology. … When you start pushing the envelope in all these new technical areas, which I think are going to change the face of how teams do business, and we started looking at ways where we can better pick players … and also try to extend their careers, you’ve got to have somebody who has extensive experience in managing a lot of diverse types of performance analytics and all these different pieces. It’s hard to explain. You have to have someone with good management skills to help organize and have all these different pieces talk to each other, and I’m not a strong hands-on manager. I didn’t think Donnie’s strength was in managing the day-to-day process evaluation that’s important when you add different departments and groups, particularly technical groups. And we felt like Gersson, with his ability to manage and improve processes and to integrate traditional NBA elements — like scouting, like the D-League team, like traditional analytics — into some of the new directions that I’ll be pushing and Donnie will be pushing us into, we needed someone with his skill set.”