Tim Connelly

Northwest Notes: Hayward, Thunder, Wolves’ Size, Wolves’ Future

Gordon Hayward was added by the Thunder from the Hornets at the trade deadline but wound up having no impact during the postseason. He only made seven appearances in the playoffs, averaging 6.6 minutes in those contests. That was a source of frustration for Hayward, who is headed for free agency, Rylan Stiles writes in a story at Sports Illustrated.

“Obviously disappointing with kind of how it all worked out. This is not what I thought it would be. Certainly frustrating. … We have a great team here with great young players, a great coach. So the future is bright,” Hayward said, adding, “I feel like as a player I have a lot to offer. I just wasn’t given much of an opportunity to do that.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder were the youngest team in NBA history to clinch a No. 1 seed. Though they were eliminated in the second round, the best is yet to come for this franchise, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. “I feel like we can do anything we want to do,” Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said.
  • The Timberwolves’ Game 7 triumph over the Nuggets on Sunday was a tribute to Tim Connelly‘s decision to build with size, according to Rob Mahoney of The Ringer. The trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Naz Reid wore down Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic. No team can match Minnesota’s collective size, Mahoney notes, which allows the Timberwolves to play superior defensive coverage.
  • Another columnist, Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune, also heaped praise on the team president, declaring the Timberwolves are built to win this year and also to contend for years to come. Souhan notes that Kyle Anderson is the only member of the Wolves’ regular eight-man rotation who is not signed long-term.

Pistons Have Four Frontrunners In Search For President Of Basketball Operations

Four candidates stood out in the Pistons‘ first round of interviews as they look for a new president of basketball operations, sources tell Vincent Goodwill and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon, former Knicks GM and current ESPN analyst Scott Perry, Mavericks advisor Dennis Lindsey, and Magic senior advisor John Hammond were all impressive in their meetings with the firm that’s conducting the initial search, according to the authors’ sources. They are considered frontrunners to meet with owner Tom Gores, who hopes to hire someone in advance of the draft.

Goodwill and Fischer suggest that Detroit might be waiting to see if Timberwolves president Tim Connelly becomes available before making a final decision, echoing a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic earlier this week. Connelly’s contract includes an opt-out clause at the end of the season, and he may be tempted to leave Minnesota, given the franchise’s unstable ownership situation.

Whoever takes over the Pistons’ front office will determine whether general manager Troy Weaver and head coach Monty Williams will remain with the team. There are several other important decisions upcoming this offseason, including a possible rookie scale extension for Cade Cunningham and how to spend up to $64MM in cap room.

Several of the top candidates have previous ties to the Pistons organization, the authors note. When Langdon was a player, his agent was Arn Tellem, who now serves as the team’s vice chairman. Perry is a Detroit native who got his first executive job with the Pistons in 2000 and served as vice president of basketball operations from 2008-12. Hammond was formerly an assistant coach and assistant general manager in Detroit.

Pistons Hoping To Hire Tim Connelly As President Of Basketball Operations?

The Pistons appear to be targeting Timberwolves president Tim Connelly in their search for a new president of basketball operations, according to James L. Edwards III and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sources tell Edwards and Charania that Connelly is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract with Minnesota this summer. Although it seems likely that he’ll sign a long-term deal with the Wolves, the authors speculate that Detroit owner Tom Gores could potentially land him with an aggressive offer in the range of $15MM per year.

The Pistons’ search for someone to run the front office has moved slowly since it was announced. The Bucks reportedly denied permission for Detroit to interview team president Jon Horst, and former Trail Blazers executive Neil Olshey refused an invitation to interview for the job.

The Pistons have moved onto other candidates, with the authors hearing that Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon, Mavericks consultant Dennis Lindsey and Bulls general manager Marc Eversley have become “viable targets” for the role.

In the same piece, Edwards and Charania speculate that falling to No. 5 in the draft lottery may boost leaguewide interest in the Pistons’ first-round pick. Because there’s not a set tier of players at the top of this year’s draft, rival teams may believe the fifth pick could bring a talent similar to the top choice. It also comes at a significant discount, as the authors note that last year’s No. 1 pick, Victor Wembanyama, will earn between $12MM and $16MM for the rest of his rookie contract, while No. 5 pick Ausar Thompson will be paid between $8.3MM and $11.1MM.

Northwest Notes: Connelly, Edwards, Murray, Nuggets

Nuggets-turned-Timberwolves team president Tim Connelly has reconfigured Minnesota to be potential giant-slayers against the reigning champs, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Connelly has made some major changes to the team since taking over the front office in 2022, most notably acquiring former Jazz stars Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert, plus swingman Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

As Amick notes, Connelly’s decision to emphasize an oversized frontcourt seemed like a direct response to two-time MVP Denver center Nikola Jokic. Connelly has, for now, been striving to retain incumbent big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid, the latter of whom he signed to a three-season, $42MM contract as a free agent in 2023.

Following an uncharacteristic 106-99 Game 1 Denver loss to Minnesota, Jokic himself praised the opposition’s flexibility.

“I think that’s why they’re good,” Jokic opined. “They can play big. They can play small. …They’re long, physical. They rebound really well. They’re aggressive. I’m satisfied with the shots that I took. Some of them I missed. Some of them I made. So it’s a tough game, and they’re a really good defensive team.”

For his part, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Gobert appeared to be reveling in the challenge of trying to contain – or at least slow – Jokic.

“I mean, to me, he’s the best player in the world,” Gobert told Amick. “He’s soon to be a three-time MVP for a reason, but I think my abilities are unique in the way I can impact the basketball game. That’s why I’m really grateful for Tim Connelly and all these guys for believing in me, bringing me in this situation to help this team become a championship team and be a top defense. That’s who I try to be every day.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves All-Star shooting guard Anthony Edwards has been looking positively Michael Jordan-esque during Minnesota’s playoff run thus far, opines Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. As Thompson writes, Edwards has been used a variety of patented moves, on both ends, that emulte the former Bulls great’s signature style — from clutch fadeaway jumpers to thorough perimeter defense to extended mid-air hang time.
  • Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray, struggling with a calf strain, has also been dealing with some shooting inconsistencies for much of these playoffs to this point. Those issues popped up again during Denver’s Game 1 defeat against the Timberwolves, according to Ryan McFadden of The Denver Post. During the Nuggets’ five-game first round series against the Lakers, Murray made just 40% of his field goal attempts and 29.4% of his three-pointers. Against Minnesota, the Kentucky vet scored 17 points on just 6-of-14 shooting from the floor.
  • Now trailing 1-0 to the Timberwolves in their second round playoff series, the Nuggets find themselves playing catch-up in a series for the first time in years, per Tony Jones of The Athletic. As Jones notes, Minnesota is one of the few teams with the kind of big, physical roster that’s truly capable of giving Denver trouble throughout the course of a series. The Nuggets will face the challenge of containing Edwards’ athletic, three-level scoring, in particular, while Minnesota’s frontline is able to at least somewhat mitigate the efficacy of Jokic, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr.

Timberwolves Notes: Connelly, Nori, Finch, Ownership

Timberwolves team president Tim Connelly joined the organization two years ago with a deliberate, aggressive plan in mind for returning Minnesota to contender status, writes Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune.

With core pieces Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaden McDaniels already all in place, Connelly opted to go for size and veteran help, ultimately rounding out his starting five with former Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley.

Now, Minnesota’s defense in all facets is helping guiding the club deep into the playoffs. The Timberwolves, the West’s No. 3 seed with a 56-26 regular season record, have won a playoff series for the first time in 20 years. Scoggins concedes that he did not appreciate just how good Conley still was when Minnesota acquired him in a February 2023 trade, while also noting that much of the league was critical of Connelly’s decision to obtain Gobert for major future draft equity.

There’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Connelly recently addressed questions about how the team will handle what could be a very pricey roster in the offseason, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (via Twitter). “I think we’re a contender now,” Connelly said. “We have to believe it. We’re entering the second round with an unblemished playoff record. This room certainly thinks we’re a contender. Relative to what the offseason looks like, it would be unfair to answer those questions prior to our conclusion and what we hope not to conclude for a long time.”
  • Connelly also had high praise for assistant coach Micah Nori, who finished out the closing minutes of team’s Game 4 win over the Suns after head coach Chris Finch left the bench due to a patellar tendon injury. Micah is gonna make a great head coach when some smart team hires him,” Connelly said, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). “The whole staff is really connected and I think Finch empowers those guys, so it’s a collective.”
  • Just one day removed from a surgery on his ruptured right knee patellar tendon, Finch was back in action on Thursday with the Timberwolves, overseeing a team practice, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Minnesota intends to have Finch available with the the team once its second round series against the Nuggets tips off in Denver on Saturday. “Finch is obviously a leader and a super tough guy,” Connelly reflected. “I have a ton of respect for him bouncing back so quickly… He’s really excited about the series and it’s great to have him back.”
  • Mediation efforts between Timberwolves minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez and majority owner Glen Taylor did not ultimately succeed in resolving the two sides’ ownership dispute, Darren Wolfson of KSTP Sports tweets. They’ll move on to arbitration, which Wolfson believes could happen several weeks from now.

Tim Connelly Among Potential Targets For Pistons’ President Opening

The Pistons would be interested in Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly if Connelly exercises the opt-out clause in his contract with Minnesota at the end of the season, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post.

The dispute between current Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor and minority owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore could cause Connelly to weigh his future in Minnesota. Connelly signed a five-year, $40MM contract with the organization in 2022. The Pistons announced after their season ended that they would hire a president of basketball operations.

Here’s more info on the Pistons’ search for a new president, via Stein:

  • Detroit’s search is expected to ramp up during the second and third rounds of the playoffs, when more potential candidates will be available for interviews. Stein confirms that Bucks general manager – and former Pistons employee – Jon Horst will be a candidate if he is willing to move on from Milwaukee.
  • Mavericks consultant and former Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey is another name to watch for the basketball ops position, per Stein.
  • J.J. Redick, a candidate for the Hornets’ coaching vacancy, could get an interview if he’s interested in a front office job, Stein says. Pistons chairman Arn Tellem represented Redick in his days as a player agent.
  • The new president of basketball operations will have the ability to decide whether current GM Troy Weaver will remain in his position, be reassigned to a different front office role, or get cut loose, according to Stein. The new exec will also determine whether head coach Monty Williams, who just completed the first year of a six-year contract worth nearly $80MM, will remain in his position.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens Named NBA’s Executive Of The Year

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been named the NBA’s Executive of the Year for the 2023/24 season, the league announced today (via Twitter).

In his third season as the Celtics’ head of basketball operations after eight years as the team’s head coach, Stevens put together a dominant Boston roster that posted a 64-18 record, easily the best mark in the NBA, along with a +11.7 net rating, the third-best mark in league history.

The Celtics were coming off a 57-win season in 2022/23, but Stevens shook up the roster drastically last summer, trading away longtime defensive stalwart Marcus Smart in a deal for Kristaps Porzingis, then moving key role players Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams in a a blockbuster for Jrue Holiday as training camps got underway.

Stevens also signed several Celtics players to contract extensions in the past 12 months, including Jaylen Brown, Payton Pritchard, and Holiday.

Unlike the NBA’s other major awards, the Executive of the Year is voted on by 29 team executives from around the league rather than 99 media members. Stevens received 16 of 29 potential first-place votes, along with six second-place votes and three third-place votes, for a total of 101 points (Twitter link).

The runner-up, Sam Presti of the Thunder, had 47 points, including four first-place votes. Tim Connelly of the Timberwolves also earned the top spot on four ballots en route to a third-place finish (29 points).

Knicks president Leon Rose (27 points; one first-place vote) was the only other executive to earn more than 11 points, though Nico Harrison (Mavericks) and Monte McNair (Kings) also received first-place votes, while Rockets general manager Rafael Stone earned a pair of them. A total of 13 executives showed up on at least one ballot.

Mediation In Wolves’ Ownership Dispute Scheduled For May 1

A mediation session regarding the Timberwolves‘ ownership dispute between Glen Taylor and a group led by Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez has been scheduled for May 1 in Minneapolis, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Lore and Rodriguez had agreed to a succession plan that would see them gradually buy into the Timberwolves before taking over majority control of the franchise this year. They previously purchased a 36% stake in the team and had been prepared to buy another 40% before Taylor announced last month that he was nixing the deal and retaining majority control of the Wolves.

Taylor claimed at the time that the deadline in the purchase agreement had passed without Lore and Rodriguez making their final payment, while Lore and Rodriguez insisted that they had the capital on hand and were awaiting NBA approval.

The incoming ownership group indicated that there was language in the purchase agreement that should give them a 90-day extension to secure that approval from the league, and expressed confidence that they’ll eventually gain majority control of the franchise.

Within an in-depth look at the ownership dispute, Joe Pompliano of Huddle Up says that if the mediation process doesn’t result in a resolution, the matter will be heard by a three-person arbitration committee — one member of that committee would be picked by Taylor, one would be chosen by Rodriguez and Lore, and the third would be mutually agreed upon by the two sides.

If the issue still isn’t solved at that point, it would go to court. Pompliano suggests Taylor, who would be on his “home turf” and previously served as a senator in Minnesota, would feel as if he had the advantage in that situation. However, sources close to the situation who spoke to Pompliano feel that the battle will eventually end with Lore and Rodriguez taking over majority control.

Here are a few more items of interest from Pompliano’s report:

  • The 36% stake that Lore and Rodriguez purchased so far has come entirely out of Taylor’s initial 70% share, rather than the remaining 30% controlled by about a dozen minority stakeholders. Some of those minority owners have been “looking for liquidity for years” but haven’t been able to cash out yet due to the nature of the purchase agreement, per Pompliano.
  • Because Lore’s and Rodriguez’s shares so far have come entirely out of Taylor’s portion of the team, his stake would have fallen to 34%. However, Taylor “quietly” purchased a 2.96% share from limited partner Bill Sexton to ensure that he retained control of more of the team (37%) than Lore and Rodriguez (36%). According to Pompliano, there are questions about why Taylor would do that unless he was preparing to retain majority control of the team and nix the sale agreement.
  • Pompliano hears from sources that Minnesota’s hiring of Tim Connelly as president of basketball operations and the trade for Rudy Gobert were spearheaded by Lore/Rodriguez and received resistance from Taylor, which A-Rod has suggested in recent media interviews (Twitter video link).
  • Pompliano confirms reporting from Wojnarowski that Lore and Rodriguez submitted a payroll projection for next season that came in below the projected luxury tax line. However, Pompliano hears that this is “relatively normal,” and that many team owners submit lower projections before revising them later — especially if the club has postseason success.

Northwest Notes: Connelly, Murray, Jokic, McDaniels, Towns

Tim Connelly helped to build the Nuggets’ championship team. He has also been instrumental in turning the Timberwolves into one of the Western Conference’s top clubs. However, Minnesota’s president of basketball operations technically has the ability to move on to another organization, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on FanDuel’s Run It Back program (video link).

The dispute between current Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor and minority owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore could cause Connelly to weigh his future in Minnesota.

“Tim Connelly has an opt-out in his contract after the season,” Charania said. “After year two, it was supposed to line up with this ownership transfer with Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore taking this team over.”

Connelly signed a five-year contract with the organization in 2022. Charania adds that Minnesota’s owners could rip up his current deal and give him an extension.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • In an interview with Altitude TV’s Katy Winge (Twitter link), Jamal Murray said he’d like to spend his entire career with the Nuggets. “I love Denver, I want to be here for the rest of my career,” he said. Murray’s current contract runs through next season. He can earn super-max contract eligibility if he makes an All-NBA team in 2024/25; he has missed too many games to qualify this season.
  • The Nuggets defeated the Timberwolves, 116-107, in a huge Western Conference showdown on Wednesday. Nikola Jokic likely locked up his third league MVP with a signature 41-point masterpiece, The Athletic’s Tony Jones notes. “I think we are on the right path,” Jokic said. “I think we are playing well. I like how everyone is locked in and focused, especially on the defensive end. I think we are at the point where everyone knows where to go, and everyone knows their job. We played really good defense tonight, especially in important moments. I really like the way we are playing.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to return before the regular season ends. Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels said the team will get an “extra boost” when he’s back in the lineup. “We’ve just been trying to hold down the fort until he gets back,” McDaniels told Sportskeeda’s Mark Medina. “We’ve been doing pretty well. It shows how deep our team is. All of us can play. All of us are versatile. When he comes back, he will give us that extra boost. He will be another unicorn on our team. We’re going to love to have him back.”

Wolves Notes: Connelly, Gobert, Conley, Edwards, Towns

Hired by the Timberwolves in the spring of 2022, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly received plenty of criticism during his first year with the franchise for the price he paid to acquire Rudy Gobert and the limited return the team got in its investment last season. With his club off to a 16-4 start this season, Connelly isn’t ready to take a victory lap quite yet, but acknowledges he likes his roster a lot, per Michael Rand of The Star Tribune.

“We’re only 19 games in, we haven’t won a playoff series in two decades, so we haven’t accomplished much,” Connelly said on The Star Tribune’s Daily Delivery podcast prior to Wednesday’s win over San Antonio. “But … I think there’s something special about this group.”

Following last season’s underwhelming 42-40 record and first-round playoff exit, there were some calls for the Timberwolves to shake up their roster during the 2023 offseason. But Connelly decided to stick with the current core, with only a few minor tweaks around the edges, confident that more time together would put the group in position to jell.

“I’m a pretty patient person. Sometimes I think that patience can bite me, so I don’t want to overly patient and asleep at the wheel,” Connelly said. “But if you have the ability to be patient, I think oftentimes it’s rewarded in this sports landscape.”

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • While the acquisition of Gobert is Connelly’s most significant move since taking control of the Timberwolves’ front office, he also made a major trade at last season’s trade deadline, moving D’Angelo Russell in a three-team deal that sent Mike Conley (and Nickeil Alexander-Walker) to Minnesota. Conley’s impact can’t be overstated, according to the Wolves’ president. “He has been fantastic,” Connelly said, per Rand. “Everything has been as advertised or better. … I can’t imagine our team without him.”
  • In a separate story for The Star Tribune, Chris Hine explores how Conley has transformed the Timberwolves’ late-game offense. “I try to make it easier on everybody else, so they don’t have to think as much,” Conley said. “I can do all the thinking and just put you in the right spot. It’s about us repping those certain plays that we’ve done a million times and trusting each other in those moments.”
  • Anthony Edwards appeared to be favoring his right hip in his return on Wednesday after missing two games due to a hip pointer, notes Hine of The Star Tribune. Edwards, who went 4-of-17 from the floor, said after the game that he was “scared” to go all-out in the first half but got more comfortable as the game went on. “Took him a while to find the rhythm of the game. I’m not sure he really ever did,” head coach Chris Finch said. “I’d like to see him attack a little bit more. Seemed a little hesitant to go at times. But I’m sure he’s working through a little bit of discomfort, so it’s to be expected.”
  • Discussing his relationship on and off the court with Karl-Anthony Towns, Gobert said that “wanting to see each other shine” has been the key to building their bond, according to Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune. “When you create that bond, it’s unstoppable,” Gobert said. “Adversity comes and it doesn’t matter. You know that you trust each other. You know when one is down, the other is going to lift him up and push him. We’re talking about me and KAT, but I think as a team, that’s what I’m feeling right now. And I think that’s a championship mentality.”