Not long after coming into ownership of Timberwolves last summer, Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez made it their mission to find a senior executive with a proven track record in building a franchise to lead the organization when they became controlling owners in 2023 should be .
With the help of current controlling owner Glen Taylor, Wolves have brought on board this high-profile target: Tim Connelly.
Connelly, who has spent the past 10 seasons building Denver into a Western Conference contender, agreed Monday to become the new president of Wolves’ basketball operations, NBA sources confirmed.
Connelly met with a contingent of Wolves at Taylor’s home in Mankato on Saturday and has since spent some time pondering his decision. He finally agreed to a deal after spending extensive courtship with Lore and Rodriguez in recent weeks.
The contract is for five years and $40 million, with Connelly receiving an equity stake in the team that adds value to the package.
Lore and Rodriguez bought the team for $1.5 billion in a deal completed in 2021. Taylor will be the controlling owner until 2023.
The hiring of Connelly marks the end of a long process for the new owners to find a senior executive with a proven track record to lead the basketball side of the franchise going forward and eight months after the team fired President Gersson Rosas in September lead .
Connelly helped build a perennial favorite in Denver around two-time MVP Nikola Jokic since he joined the Nuggets as general manager in 2013. He was later promoted to President.
The Nuggets reached the Western Conference Finals in 2020 as Jokic thrived in the years after Connelly drafted him 41st overall in 2014. In 2016, Connelly drafted Jamal Murray, the rising guard who led that 2020 run alongside Jokic. Murray has been out since April 2021 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Since then, Denver has not progressed past the second round in either of the two playoffs.
Connelly oversaw the call-ups of Michael Porter Jr., who has been out most of the season with a back injury, and promising rookie Bones Hyland, who simply tweeted “Damn…” shortly after the news broke Monday.
Connelly also drafted two significant contributors in the current Wolves roster – guard Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt. Rosas swapped the couple before the February 2020 deadline.
Connelly is from Baltimore and also worked for the Wizards and Hornets. He inherits a Wolves roster that made the playoffs for the second time since 2004. Monday’s news ended a tightrope walk in negotiations, while the team continued to allow executive vice president Sachin Gupta to lead the team on a daily basis following Rosas’ sacking in September, days before the start of training camp.
Gupta oversaw the roster and took steps this season such as extending Patrick Beverley to a one-year contract and signing trainer Chris Finch to a four-year deal as Gupta spent the last eight months auditioning for the role which ultimately went to Connelly.
Gupta has also made changes in the front office, most recently hiring Steve Senior as an assistant general manager from Memphis. Connelly’s attitude leads to a number of questions about the Wolves’ organizational structure.
It’s unclear if Gupta will stay with the organization going forward, but even when Wolves were involved in the outside hiring process, they wanted Gupta to stay with the team going forward.
Finch and Gupta have a good relationship and have praised working together throughout the season. Finch also pitched to keep Gupta.
“I’m a huge fan and I was committed to making sure he got his chance to be the guy running this team,” Finch said after the season. “Nothing would make me happier than that. After this season there is no better time to be able to continue building.”
But Connelly and Finch appear to have a good relationship that stretches since they worked together in Denver, sources said. Finch was an assistant with the Nuggets in the 2016-17 season.
In terms of roster, Wolves could potentially be able to offer Karl-Anthony Towns a supermax expansion should Towns, who has two years left on his contract, form an All-NBA team. Guard D’Angelo Russell is entering the final year of his contract and will be looking for an extension while Wolves look to improve their frontcourt.
Connelly will also handle Wolves’ upcoming draft in June if they have four picks, including No. 19 overall.
In addition, he will also oversee several drafts and free agency periods. His arrival settles one of the biggest questions about the future of wolves.
Lore, Rodriguez and Taylor got their man and invest many years and money in him.
This marks the beginning of a new chapter in the club’s history.