When the Minnesota Timberwolves tabbed Gersson Rosas to lead its basketball operations, the message was clear: it would take a complete, well-rounded front office approach to bring sustained success to the organization.
That means a deep network of scouts -- both stateside and abroad -- and a strong G League affiliate in Iowa. For Rosas, there was no better person to oversee those aspects of basketball operations than his longtime colleague Gianluca Pascucci as Assistant General Manager and Iowa Wolves GM.
“Gianluca makes us better in that he gives us a worldwide perspective, his ability to have experience not only in the NBA -- not only in the G League, but in the top leagues throughout the world -- really helps us,” says Rosas. “The game of basketball is a global game, and there's not one way to do it. The ability to learn from others, experience other success and failures is something that Gianluca really helps us with.”
A native of Pesaro, Italy, Pascucci spent the first 12 years of his career in his home country coaching in the Italian A-1 League and Euroleague. before joining the Houston Rockets as an international scout in 2002. Six years later, Pascucci returned home to join Italian powerhouse Olimpia Milano as General Manager and CEO, guiding the club to three appearances in the Lega Basket Serie A Finals. Pascucci arrived back in Houston in 2012 to oversee the then D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers for four seasons as Vice President of Player Personnel. Proving his mettle, Pascucci helped the Valley Vipers to the 2013 NBDL Championship. Finally, in the two years prior to joining the Timberwolves, Pascucci served as Director of Global Scouting for the Brooklyn Nets.
“He's seen the game through different lenses,” Rosas says of Pascucci. “He's been in different places. He's helped build teams at different level, and that gives us an efficiency that's important. The ability to evaluate players, to find talent, to understand philosophy, to develop and acquire coaching acumen from the basketball side to the personnel side, his ability to have a different perspective allows us to be well-rounded.”
For Pascucci, bringing his vast experience to a diverse staff helps set the Timberwolves’ front office apart from the rest of the NBA. The cohesiveness of the group has put the organization on track for its first taste of sustained success.
“I think obviously every NBA team is different,” Pascucci says. “Every front office is different. I've been blessed to be part of good organizations in my career, had a chance to work with a lot of good people and I learned a lot from these people… This togetherness and these vibes carry over to the new people and making sure that the transition has been smooth. And even the people that we didn't know before getting here now, we feel that they are pushing us even harder in our job.”
In just one season on the job, the Timberwolves have seen the fruits of Pascucci’s labor. While starting the season with Iowa in 2019, Naz Reid, Kelan Martin, Jaylen Nowell, and Jordan McLaughlin combined for over 1,700 NBA minutes last season. The under-the-radar acquisitions of Reid and McLaughlin turned into major rotation pieces for the Timberwolves during the 2019-20 campaign.
Now with the 2020 NBA Draft approaching, Pascucci hopes to help the staff build on that work with the No. 1, 17 and 33 picks.
“We have so many different scouts,” he says. “So many different front office [members] coming from different experiences, different countries -- that's the beauty of getting together again -- with different opinions, maybe even different culture, but working closely every day to reach what is the final goal to make the Timberwolves a great organization.”