Tim Connelly

Nuggets’ Tim Connelly Agrees To Extension

Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly has agreed to a contract extension, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Connelly’s contract could have expired at the end of this season, but he has been in negotiations for several weeks with Nuggets president Josh Kroenke on a new deal, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

The team has confirmed the extension in a press release. General manager Arturas Karnisovas and the entire basketball operations staff in Denver have also received extensions, according to the release.

“It gives me immense pride to announce contract extensions for our entire front office, as our journey to this point has been one of hard work, patience and trust in one another,” Kroenke said in a statement. “When Tim joined us in 2013, he understood the vision that we had for the future of the Nuggets, and through his dedication our program is incredibly well positioned to compete at the highest level for years to come. Building a true championship contender in the NBA is a unique process for each franchise, and our path in Denver hasn’t always been clear. But Tim, Arturas and the rest of our staff continued to work through every challenge we faced along the way, and I hope Nuggets fans are as excited as we are about our future. We firmly believe we can bring an NBA championship to Denver, and are thrilled to continue our pursuit together.”

The Nuggets have emerged as one of the Western Conference’s top teams, mainly due to smart selections in the draft. Denver has drafted All-Star center Nikola Jokic and guards Jamal MurrayGary Harris and Malik Beasley during Connelly’s regime.

This isn’t the first time Connelly received an extension. He got one from the Nuggets in 2016 when he held the title of GM. Karnisovas held the title of assistant GM at the time.

Latest On Anthony Davis

The Pelicans are in a difficult position after the trade request from Anthony Davis, but they still have the power to control when the deal will get done, writes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. There are three important dates to consider — the trade deadline on February 7, the draft lottery on May 14 and the start of free agency on July 1 — and New Orleans must determine the best time to move its star.

Woo states that trying to rush a deal by next week only works in favor of the Lakers, along with Davis and his agent, Rich Paul. L.A.’s best offer should still be on the table this summer, and waiting will give the Celtics a chance to become involved. Even if the Pelicans don’t plan to send Davis to Boston, they may be able to gain leverage by using that offer to get more from the Lakers.

The best options may come after the lottery, Woo writes. If the Mavericks, Wizards or another team with established talent lands the top pick, it could be motivated to offer that to New Orleans as part of a package for Davis.

It’s crucial to management, and especially GM Dell Demps, to get maximum value for Davis, Woo adds. Demps’ job was in jeopardy before last year’s playoff run, and the two-year extension he received may not prevent ownership from making a change this summer.
There’s more news to pass along regarding Davis:
  • The Pelicans’ best 0ffer will come from the Celtics, contends David Aldridge of The Athletic. He states that a deal would have to start with Jayson Tatum, who could become a cornerstone player in New Orleans. The Pelicans might also ask for Jaylen Brown, but Aldridge believes the Celtics would prefer to keep one of their young talents and could offer Marcus Smart instead. Boston also has a wealth of draft picks, including a Grizzlies first-rounder that is top-eight protected this year, top six next year and unprotected in 2021, along with the better pick from the Sixers or Kings this year and possibly another first-rounder from the Clippers.
  • The Pelicans may consider shutting Davis down for the season if he’s not traded before next Thursday, suggests Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Davis is sidelined with a volar plate avulsion fracture on his left index finger and is being re-evaluated every 48 to 72 hours. If surgery is necessary, it would be a way for the Pelicans to avoid any risk and be sure that they have a fully healthy asset for the trade market this summer.
  • A team source confirms to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) that the Knicks plan to get involved in the bidding for Davis. Their best offer is expected to come after the lottery when they know where they’ll be drafting.
  • If the Lakers aren’t able to deal for Davis before the deadline, they will only have seven tradable contracts this summer outside of LeBron James, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (insider account). L.A. would have to use some of its projected $36MM in cap space to make the deal work and could include some of its free agents in a sign-and-trade arrangement, but only if they agree to go to New Orleans. Marks examines what several teams can realistically offer, including the Nuggets, whom he calls a “dark horse” in the Davis sweepstakes. Denver has a slew of young players and controllable contracts, along with a connection in GM Tim Connelly, who formerly worked for Demps in New Orleans.
  • Writers from The Athletic break down the chances of acquiring Davis for every team in the league.

Nuggets Rumors: Lyles, Cancar, Bledsoe, Connelly

Forward Trey Lyles will earn playing time by his efforts on the defensive end, according to Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. The Nuggets acquired him in a draft-day trade with the Jazz that involved a swap of first-round picks. Lyles joins a crowded frontcourt but Denver needs a better defensive presence at the power forward spot. “I think personally, for me, being able to be versatile and guard different positions, keep guys in front of me and just compete is the main thing for me,” he told Kosmider. “This past summer I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on that. I’m continuing to focus on it through different training exercises to get better with it.” Lyles shot just 36% from the field last season while averaging 6.1 PPG during his second year in the league.

In other news involving the Nuggets:

  • Second-round selection Vlatko Cancar will remain in Europe for a couple of seasons before joining the Nuggets, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. The Nuggets used the 49th overall pick in last week’s draft on Cancar, a 20-year-old small forward from Slovenia. He currently plays for Mega Leks in the Serbian League.
  • GM Tim Connelly nearly pulled off another draft-day swap but it fell apart at the last minute, Kosmider reports. A disappointed Connelly thought he had a done deal before the trading partner backed out, though Connelly wouldn’t provide any details (Twitter links). The Nuggets tried to trade for Jimmy Butler before the Bulls dealt him to the Timberwolves and also pursued a deal for Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The Nuggets were also involved in three-way negotiations that would have brought Cavs power forward Kevin Love to Denver.
  • The front office led by Connelly hasn’t proven it can attract top free agents to Denver, Kiszla writes in the same story. The Nuggets are reportedly targeting Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap but Kiszla doubts that the team’s brass can close the deal on any of this year’s high-level free agents.

Nuggets Promote Karnisovas, Scramble Bucks’ GM Search

Arturas Karnisovas, one of the finalists for the Bucks’ vacant GM position, has accepted a promotion from the Nuggets, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Denver owner Stan Kroenke has promoted Karnisovas to general manager and made GM Tim Connelly the new president of basketball operations (Twitter link). Karnisovas has withdrawn as a candidate in Milwaukee (Twitter link).

He and Bucks assistant GM Justin Zanik were reportedly the two finalists for the position, which opened up when John Hammond was hired last month as the new GM in Orlando. Former Hawks GM and current advisor Wes Wilcox was also listed as a finalist in stories last week.

Karnisovas, 46, has been serving as assistant GM with the Nuggets since 2013. He was also a candidate for the Nets’ open GM job last year.

Nuggets GM Discusses Nurkic, Gallinari, Defense

Earlier tonight, we shared Nuggets GM Tim Connelly’s announcement that rookie guard Jamal Murray will have surgery tomorrow. Here are a few other highlights of Connelly’s radio interview with Altitude Sports 950, all tweeted by Chris Dempsey:

  • Although Jusuf Nurkic blossomed into a key player in Portland, Connelly doesn’t regret the February deal that sent him to the Trail Blazers. Portland acquired Nurkic and a first-round pick this year in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second-rounder. “We think Mason is going to be a huge piece of our core,” Connelly said.
  • Re-signing free agent forward Danilo Gallinari will be the top off-season priority. Gallinari has been with the Nuggets since 2011 when he was acquired in the Carmelo Anthony deal. Connelly also hopes to reach a new deal with Plumlee, who will be a restricted free agent, and work out an extension for third-year guard Gary Harris.
  • Another objective is to add a stronger defensive presence around breakout star Nikola Jokic.
  • Connelly believed 39 wins would be enough to grab the West’s final playoff spot. The Nuggets finished 40-42, but Portland was a game better. Connelly insists he would have been more active at the trade deadline if he had known the team would miss the postseason.
  • The organization is making progress in changing the league-wide perception about Denver as a place to play and live. Connelly said several lottery prospects in a recent draft were “begging” the Nuggets to select them because they wanted to be in the city.
  • The team needs a “pecking order” in the locker room, with a strong veteran presence to guide younger players. “Maybe our biggest struggle since I’ve been here,” Connelly said, “is we haven’t had a pecking order.” He adds that the organization has also encountered problems with “role acceptance” among players.

Nuggets Notes: Plumlee, Trades, Jokic

Denver plans on bringing Mason Plumlee back on a new contract, Christopher Dempsey of Altitude Sports writes.

“Mase brought a lot of what we thought he would bring – intensity, a vertical threat at the rim,” GM Tim Connelly said. “An athletic big. A very good passer. It’s not an easy transition going from a starter to the third or fourth big. … When we traded for him, we traded for him for the purpose of bringing him back. Barring something unforeseen or some dramatic shift, we’re pretty excited to talk to his representatives this summer and figure something out.”

Plumlee, who’s a restricted free agent, came to the Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic at this year’s deadline.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • The Nuggets are more likely to make major changes via trade since they will have only a handful of open roster spots this offseason, Dempsey adds in the same piece. Connelly believes he has a roster full of players who should be coveted on the trade market because they’ve outperformed their contracts. “I think what’s interesting about our team is we have a lot of good players,” Connelly said. “And I think relative to their contracts, most of our guys outperformed their contracts, which is a testament to our coaching and player development.”
  • Denver knows it has a rising star in Nikola Jokic, but it doesn’t want to put too much pressure on him next season, Dempsey relays in the same piece. “He’s only 22,” the GM said. “He’d be the first one to tell you it’s a team game. He’s probably the least stat-aware guy on the team. But certainly we’re playing a certain way now and having success playing that way primarily because of his unique skill set and the coaches confidence in him.”
  • Connelly explains how the team has a better sense than it has in the past on which players should be the franchise’s core members, Dempsey passes along in the same piece. “Some of these guys have cemented their place in next year’s role already,” Connelly said. “There’s a handful of guys that you know what you’re going to get, and I think coach trusts them and those are guys we are going to take a long-term approach with and feel good about growing with.”
  • Danilo Gallinari is going to take some time to decide whether or not he’ll decline his player option, USA Today relays.  “It’s not time right now to make the decision,” said Gallinari. “Right now, it’s time to digest the fact we were not able to accomplish the goal [of the playoffs] that I had, that we had, at the beginning of the season.” The franchise would also like Gallinari to stick around beyond his current deal, but it’s taking a wait-and-see approach with him.
  • The Nuggets plan to be aggressive in their attempts to lock up Gary Harris long-term, as we passed along on Wednesday.

Latest On Danilo Gallinari And The Nuggets

The Nuggets value Danilo Gallinari, but they’re taking a “wait-and-see approach” with him this offseason, Christopher Dempsey of Altitude Sports writes. The Italian has a player option, which is worth $16.1MM, on his contract for next season and should he turn it down, he’ll become a free agent. GM Tim Connelly wants to bring him back next season, but the executive acknowledges that there’s always unknown variables when it comes to free agency.

“I think it’s no secret we really value Gallo, both as a player and as a person,” Connelly said. “So, with free agency, if he does choose to opt out there’s a lot of unknowns. How does the market develop? What do the various teams look like that are chasing him? What does he want in terms of contract and years; all of those things will certainly play a role. It would be premature of me to guess. He’s a guy that we value, he’s had a great year.”

Connelly added that the organization would be happy if Gallinari decides plays next season under his current contract, but the team is also ready to compete for his services.

“He’s been here for a long time, one of our core guys,” Connelly said. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens this summer. Gallo loves Denver. And he’s a really, really good guy. If he doesn’t opt out, we’d be very happy with that. If he chooses to opt out, he’s certainly going to be one of our primary focuses. “

Gallinari has long been the subject of trade rumors. The Celtics had discussions with the Nuggets about acquiring the small forward last summer and then again this season, but no trade materialized. The Clippers and Raptors were also among the teams keeping tabs on the veteran this season.

Nuggets To Pursue Extension With Gary Harris

Gary Harris will be eligible for a rookie contract extension this summer and the Nuggets don’t want to waste any time locking him up long-term, Christopher Dempsey of Altitude Sports relays.

“Gary’s going to be here for a long, long time,” GM Tim Connelly said. “He’s a guy that kind of embodies everything that we’re trying to be, both as a player and as a person. Whether it’s this summer or whether it’s the following summer, he’s going to be here for a very long time.”

Harris, who was selected with the No.19 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is averaging career highs in points, assists, and rebounds per game as well as 3-point percentage and overall field goal percentage this season. He’s become a core member of the Nuggets, someone who can contribute to the team’s goal of making the playoffs and competing for the title down the road. Connelly always envisioned Harris taking the necessary steps to elevate his game.

“Sometimes you have to go with your gut – 6-4, long arm, fast-twitch athlete with a nose for the ball defensively who can make shots and cares,” Connelly said. “I think you can get too lost at times in analytics and too lost at times not seeing the forest for the trees. Now, he’s taken a monstrous step.”

Community Shootaround: Denver’s Trade Chips

Despite a 22-28 record, the Nuggets find themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Staked to a half-game lead in the eighth seed, Denver has outperformed expectations behind a breakout season from Nikola Jokic.

As Mark Kiszla pointed out in a Denver Post column, the Nuggets have a decision to make: pursue a No. 7 or 8 seed, or sell off their assets by the trade deadline? Wilson Chandler has been critical of his role (or occasional lack thereof) under coach Michael Malone, making him a logical trade candidate.

Malone firmly denied Emmanuel Mudiay‘s availability via trade, but several Nuggets remain viable trade chips; particularly Danilo Gallinari and Jusuf Nurkic. As of late January, Nurkic was rumored to be available in a package deal with veteran forward Kenneth Faried.

We know Nuggets GM Tim Connelly has a history of trade deadline activity; here’s what we want to know as February 23rd approaches…

Who would you like to see the Nuggets shop at the deadline? Would it be worthwhile for Connelly to keep his team intact while pursuing a playoff spot? Which team would be the most logical destination for Chandler?

Let us know in the comments section!

Josh Kroenke Praises Nuggets’ Direction

Despite only winning 33 games a season ago, the first under head coach Michael Malone, team president Josh Kroenke is extremely pleased with the direction that the franchise is headed in, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. The executive said that this is the happiest with the state of the team he’s been since the 2012/13 squad that won 57 games and was the last Denver squad to reach the postseason, Dempsey notes.

I feel very confident with the guys we have leading us on a daily basis,” Kroenke said. “I feel confident in the players in the locker room. I feel confident in the front office. I like the direction of the train. I like the speed and direction of the train. We needed to reinvent who we were last year, culturally, in our locker room as well as establish a new identity on the court. I think that historically we’ve always played fast here, and I think that that’s something we want to continue to do, but you can’t do it at the expense of your defense.”

Despite the team finishing fourth in the Northwest Division in 2015/16, Kroenke praised the job the Malone did in guiding what was one of the league’s youngest teams, Dempsey notes. “[GM] Tim Connelly and I, we have a bigger picture that we’re looking at, and I thought [Malone] did an outstanding job last year, with our young players, especially,” Kroenke told the scribe. “I thought Tim and the guys, over the last few years they’ve knocked it out of the park at the draft. I think if you’re drafting well, you’re always giving yourself a chance to compete, whether that’s improvement through trades or simply internal improvement.

Kroenke displayed his faith in Connelly last season by extending his contract despite the team’s struggles since the GM took the helm, Dempsey writes. “I knew when I hired Tim in the summer of 2013 that we were going to have a good shot at nailing a few drafts. That ultimately takes years to come to fruition,” Kroenke said. “Being able to weigh the present while weighing the future is, I think, the toughest job general managers face based on the roster. And I think Tim and our staff has made very smart trades.

While Kroenke didn’t guarantee that the Nuggets would reach the postseason in 2016/17, he did note that he expects to see improvement on the court, Dempsey relays. “I think this year is going to be a growth year,” Kroenke said. “Depending on where that growth heads at the end of the year, where we ultimately define success, I guess, is open to interpretation almost. But I’m glad to see that our players are focused on playoffs. I want those guys focused on building toward April. We want to be playing our best basketball on April 1, those last two weeks of the season leading into the playoffs. Then we’ll see where our record shakes out. I like our chances to hopefully leapfrog a team or two this year simply through our continuity and our internal improvement.