Timberwolves chat with Nuggets’ Tim Connelly about the role of President


Timberwolves chat with Nuggets' Tim Connelly about the role of President

The Timberwolves are in serious talks with Denver Nuggets President Tim Connelly over the vacancy for president of the franchise’s basketball operations, sources say the athlete. The Timberwolves recently asked the Nuggets for permission to speak to Connelly and the sides have gone beyond exploratory talks, sources said.

No deals have been made yet and nothing appears to be imminent, sources said.

Connelly has emerged as a serious target for the Timberwolves and is the first known outside candidate for the position of chief of basketball at the organization. Sachin Gupta, the Timberwolves’ executive vice president, remains a significant part of the organization’s long-term vision and is a candidate to continue to oversee basketball operations, sources said.

Connelly has established himself as one of the NBA’s top team managers, making the Nuggets a tenacious postseason contender, likely to be among the championship threats in 2022-23. He has built a roster led by two-time league MVP Nikola Jokić and with the expected return of a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr next season, the Nuggets are optimistic their window is about to open. Connelly has been the Nuggets’ basketball decision-maker for the past nine seasons, including playoff appearances in each of the past four years and leading to the 2020 Western Conference Finals and two conference semifinals.

The Timberwolves have enjoyed a renaissance season, doubling their 2020-21 aggregate wins and boasting a 46-36 record, a win over the LA Clippers in the play-in tournament and their first playoff appearance in four seasons completed. They’ve lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in six games and now Wolves may be looking to take steps to build on that success.

Gupta ran Wolves’ front office this season, taking the top spot after Gersson Rosas was fired just days before training camp began in September. Gupta’s ability to calm the tense front office environment in the days leading up to Rosas’ sacking was lauded from the inside and his partnership with coach Chris Finch was a big part of the team’s success.

Glen Taylor, majority owner of Timberwolves, said Gupta will be evaluated after the season to determine whether they would continue with him or look elsewhere. Wolves have not ruled out the possibility of Gupta remaining in office, sources said. But discussions with Connelly represent real consideration for hiring someone through Gupta.

Prominent in the decision-making process are minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who joined the organization last summer with the intention of succeeding Taylor as Wolves’ majority owner by the end of 2023.

Lore and Rodriguez have injected some enthusiasm and aggressiveness into the organization since their arrival. One of Lore’s core philosophies in the companies he ran was to hire the best people possible at all costs.

Any decision of this magnitude will ultimately be made by Taylor, who has built a strong relationship with Gupta over the past year, but he also wants to work with Lore and Rodriguez to ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.

Connelly is known across the league for his role in building a Nuggets roster that is rich in talent at the top and also offers depth, with discoveries like Monte Morris and Bones Hyland becoming strong rotation players. The Nuggets started the season as one of the favorites in the West, but injuries to Murray and Porter contributed to a season that ended in a first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Under Connelly’s supervision, the Nuggets brought in coach Michael Malone and assembled a respected front office staff that included Arturas Karnisovas, who rose to general manager in his Nuggets front office and in 2020 the job as executive vice president of the Chicago Bulls took over. That led to Denver promoting GM Calvin Booth’s assistant to general manager.

It would be a bold move to leave the two-time MVP for upstart Minnesota. But the Timberwolves have a pair of building blocks in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, promising young talent in Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt, a coach revered across the organization and an ownership group that seems motivated to be in the organization to invest.

Gupta said at the end of his season-ending press conference that he would continue to lead the way until told otherwise. He made the decision not to exercise Assistant GM Gianluca Pascucci’s contract option and reassigned Steve Senior from the Memphis Grizzlies to fill a newly created Assistant GM position responsible for player development.

Taylor, Lore, and Rodriguez empowered Gupta to make those decisions as they weighed their options.

(Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

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