Saturday, July 2, 2022

Tim Connelly to leave Nuggets and become Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, per report

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The Minnesota Timberwolves are hiring Denver Nuggets executive Tim Connelly as their new president of basketball operations, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal will make Connelly one of the most well-paid executives in basketball. In addition to a five-year, $40 million contract, Connelly will receive ownership equity in the team, according to Wojnarowski. 

Connelly will replace Sachin Gupta as Minnesota’s top decision-maker. Gupta had been holding the role on an interim basis after former Minnesota executive Gersson Rosas was relieved of his duties in September. Gupta oversaw Minnesota’s first playoff season since 2018, but does not have nearly the track record that Connelly does. 

Connelly took over the Nuggets in 2013 when Masai Ujiri left Denver to run the Toronto Raptors, and since then, he’s built Denver into a perennial Western Conference power. While he’s acquired a number of notable players in that time, his crowning achievement was, obviously, the selection of two-time MVP Nikola Jokic with the No. 41 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. With Jokic at the helm and Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. returning from injury, the Nuggets will be among the favorites in the Western Conference next season.

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But Minnesota’s roster has plenty of room for growth as well. Former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards is blossoming into an All-Star, and Karl-Anthony Towns is already there. The Timberwolves control their draft picks moving forward, and with D’Angelo Russell on an expiring contract, have a fair bit of financial flexibility. Connelly can reshape this team in his own image. 

That is what new owners Marc Lorre and Alex Rodriguez are doing with this hire. They wanted to make a splash and they’ve done so. Now Denver is expected to promote general manager Calvin Booth into Connelly’s role, but as highly regarded as he is, Booth has never held the No. 1 position in a front office. The Nuggets have to hope that he can hit the ground running if they plan to make it back into the championship race next season.

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