Tim Connelly

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Aldridge, Nuggets, Nader

When Damian Lillard took over the Trail Blazers‘ Twitter account on Monday evening for a Q&A with fans, most of the questions and his responses were fairly innocuous. However, one of Lillard’s answers had to be deleted after the fact.

As Nico Martinez of Fadeaway World details (hat tip to NBC Sports), when asked which former teammate he’d like to have on the current Trail Blazers roster, Lillard replied, “I’d add LaMarcus (Aldridge).”

That sort of comment wouldn’t be a big deal if Lillard said it during a Zoom or Instagram Live session, but the NBA may not take kindly to him making it on the Trail Blazers’ official Twitter account. The league introduced new anti-tampering measures last year and Lillard’s tweet – by way of the Blazers’ account – arguably violates those rules.

Although the tweet has since been removed, it’s sure to fuel speculation about an eventual reunion between the Trail Blazers and Aldridge, which has been a topic of discussion multiple times in recent years. For what it’s worth, Aldridge himself responded to Lillard’s tweet with an eyes emoji.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Once it became clear that Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas wanted the Bulls‘ head of basketball operations job, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly organized mock interview sessions to help him make a good impression in his actual meeting, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “It was amazing,” said Karnisovas, who was officially hired by Chicago on Monday. “It’s a prep, but that’s what I’m all about. I like to be all prepared. We prepared for all the questions and we covered all the bases. He helped me out.”
  • Nick Kosmider and John Hollinger of The Athetic take an in-depth look at the state of the Nuggets, examining what steps are necessary to turn Denver from a strong playoff team into a legitimate title contender.
  • In his third NBA season and second with the Thunder, Abdel Nader improved his shooting efficiency and made major strides on the defensive end, writes Logan Meyer of Daily Thunder. Oklahoma City is in position to keep Nader for one more year before he reaches free agency — he has a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21.

More Notes, Details On Bulls’ Hiring Of Karnisovas

Once Arturas Karnisovas formally assumes control of the Bulls‘ front office, he intends to hire a person of color to be the team’s general manager, a league source tells Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Goodwill’s story comes on the heels of a Wednesday report which indicated that black executives around the NBA were upset that all five candidates known to have interviewed for the top Chicago job were white, including a couple who had made racially insensitive comments in the past.

According to Goodwill, the Bulls requested permission during their search process to speak to Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver, who is black, but were denied. Chicago also tried to interview Raptors GM Bobby Webster, a Japanese-American, but didn’t receive permission from Toronto.

As K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets, the Bulls did hold an informal interview with former Chicago center Nazr Mohammed, who has worked in Oklahoma City’s front office. That interview wasn’t for the team’s top front office job though.

Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf has made a series of diverse hires in the Bulls’ business operations department in recent years, per Goodwill, who hears that the younger Reinsdorf has spoken both publicly and privately about the importance of having a diverse staff.

Here’s more on the Bulls’ hiring of Karnisovas and on the Nuggets, who will lose their general manager:

  • A source tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that longtime executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson will continue to be a “sounding board” for the Reinsdorfs going forward, but will only weigh in on basketball decisions if asked by Karnisovas.
  • The Bulls’ front office search had its flaws, but the team ultimately landed on a very promising candidate in Karnisovas, opines Jon Greenberg of The Athletic.
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who previously worked with Karnisovas in Houston, praised the Bulls’ choice and told Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson) that he’s happy to see the veteran exec get a shot to run a team. Arturas is one of the best executives in the NBA,” Morey said. “I’m so happy he is getting this opportunity. He was instrumental in our success. I’m also thrilled he’s in the East now!”
  • Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and team owner Josh Kroenke were “instrumental” in helping Karnisovas land the Chicago job, a source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post. In a separate story for The Post, Singer spoke to former NBA player Jared Jeffries, who worked with Karnisovas for four years in Denver’s front office and called the Bulls’ decision to hire him a “no-brainer.”
  • Karnisovas’ departure leaves the Nuggets with a hole in their basketball operations department, and Nick Kosmider of The Athletic suggests that assistant GM Calvin Booth may be a candidate for a promotion.

Nuggets Notes: Trade Deadline, Bates-Diop, Health, Bench

When the Nuggets traded bench players Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt in a series of deadline deals this week, the team was actually improving its long-term outlook by shoring up its collection of draft picks, Mike Singer of the Denver Post contends.

Beasley and Hernangomez, free agents in 2020, could not finalize extensions with Denver last October. After that, it became clear both players would seek more playing time elsewhere this summer, in Singer’s view.

The Nuggets were able to secure the Rockets’ 2020 first-round draft pick, plus intriguing youth in Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan McRae, and Noah Vonleh to shore up their bench. Extracting a first-round pick for a few little-used players destined to depart anyway was a smart play, Singer argues.

There’s more out of Denver:

  • Bates-Diop, the lengthy, rangy No. 48 pick out of OSU by the Timberwolves in 2018, could be a valuable addition as a multifaceted forward off the Nuggets’ bench, Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post notes.
  • The Nuggets hope to finally reach full health after the All-Star break. Paul [Millsap] is right there,” Denver president of basketball operations Tim Connelly told Denver’s Altitude Sports Radio (92.5 FM), according to DNVR Sports’ Adam Mares (Twitter link). Michael [Porter Jr.] is getting right there. I think Mason [Plumlee] will be after the All-Star break…Will [Barton] is just banged up… I think coming out of the all-star break you should see a fully healthy roster.” 
  • The newest bench assets should serve to enhance a backup roster whose play has improved in 2020, according to Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com.

Northwest Notes: Russell, George, Porter, Adams, Nuggets

Could the Timberwolves figure out a way to sign D’Angelo Russell? ESPN’s Zach Lowe hears that Minnesota will try to make a run at the Nets guard, who will be a restricted free agent unless Brooklyn renounces his rights (hat tip to RealGM). “There has been a lot of Minnesota (signing) D’Angelo Russell noise,” Lowe said. “And it’s not all Karl Towns commenting on Instagram because they’re friends. Minnesota has communicated to the league, not the NBA league, just the league at large that they believe they have a pathway to get D’Angelo Russell.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder will get a better read on Paul George‘s status in late September, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman reports. He’s expected to miss most of the preseason after undergoing offseason surgeries to his right rotator cuff and left labrum. “He’s doing well,” GM Sam Presti said. “He’s going to make a full recovery.” Shooting guard Andre Roberson, who hasn’t played since January 2018 after suffering a serious knee injury, has been training in Texas, Horne adds.
  • Forward Michael Porter Jr. will make his Nuggets debut in the Las Vegas Summer League next month and he’s ready to go, Parth Upadhyaya of Denver Post relays. After being selected at the end of the lottery last season, Porter sat out last season to rehab from back surgery. “He’s been in the gym twice a day for a long time,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “He’s been fully cleared for several months.”
  • Thunder center Steven Adams won’t play for New Zealand in the FIBA World Cup this summer, according to Sportando.
  • The Nuggets did not retain assistants Mark Price and Bob Weiss, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.

Nuggets Notes: Millsap, Connelly, Karnisovas, Offseason

The Nuggets are optimistic they’ll retain veteran forward Paul Millsap, though not necessarily by picking up his $30.1MM option for next season, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post reports. “Our goal and Paul’s goal is to have him back with us,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. The easiest way to do that would be to pick up the option by the June 29 deadline but that would hamper the team’s ability to make upgrades.

It already has more than $90MM in guaranteed salary commitments for next season. A more likely scenario would be to decline the option and sign Millsap to a multi-year deal in free agency at a lower annual salary. “We both want the same thing,” Connelly said. “We’ll figure out the best way for the organization and Paul to make sure that’s achieved. I fully expect Paul to be back in a Nuggets uniform.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Connelly downplayed his interview with the Wizards for their top front office job, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “We just had a conversation. It was not much more than that,” Connelly said. There are conflicting reports on whether the Wizards formally made Connelly a four-year contract offer but he ultimately decided to stay put.
  • Head coach Michael Malone said the organization “wouldn’t have skipped a beat” if Connelly had taken the Wizards job and the Nuggets replaced him with GM Arturas Karnisovas, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic tweets. However, Malone is happy Connelly decided to stay since they and owner Josh Kroenke have a strong working relationship.
  • The Nuggets can’t continue to rely on developing their young players alone to bridge the gap between them and the other championship contenders, Kosmider writes. The moves that Connelly makes this offseason will be crucial and viewed with intense scrutiny, Kosmider adds.

Tim Connelly To Remain With Nuggets

Despite reportedly receiving an offer from his hometown Wizards to run their front office, Tim Connelly has elected to remain in Denver as the Nuggets‘ president of basketball operations, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Connelly was long rumored to be Washington’s top candidate to replace Ernie Grunfeld this spring, and after his Nuggets were eliminated from the postseason, Connelly agreed to meet with the Wizards. There was a sense that the veteran executive wouldn’t have been receptive to overtures from any other team, but his ties to the D.C. area made the Wizards’ job intriguing.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and advisor Mike Forde reportedly met with Connelly on Friday, and reports indicated that the team offered a four-year contract that was in the ballpark of what Connelly was seeking financially. However, there are conflicting reports on that front, with some sources telling Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link) that the Wizards never extended a formal offer, despite discussing the job with Connelly.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Connelly was impressed with Leonsis’ vision for the Wizards, but Nuggets president Josh Kroenke made an “aggressive case” to retain his president of basketball operations over the weekend. As Chris Dempsey of Nuggets.com tweets, Connelly has been big on finishing what he started in Denver and wants to try to keep improving a team that came within a game of reaching the Western Conference Finals this season.

Connelly has been the Nuggets’ head of basketball operations since Masai Ujiri‘s departure in 2013. After first assuming the role of general manager, he was later promoted to the president of basketball operations position, with right-hand man Arturas Karnisovas sliding into the GM job. Karnisovas was viewed as Connelly’s likely replacement if he had accepted the Wizards’ offer, but it appears both men will continue on with the Nuggets.

As for the Wizards, they have interviewed several other candidates for their head of basketball operations job. Thunder executive Troy Weaver and former Hawks and Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry have each reportedly met twice with Washington. Tommy Sheppard, who is running the Wizards’ front office on an interim basis, is also a candidate to secure the position on a permanent basis.

Wojnarowski tweets that the Wizards will likely turn back to that short list now that Connelly is out of the running.

Wizards Offer Tim Connelly Top Front Office Post

The Wizards have offered their top front-office job to Nuggets president Tim Connelly, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets in conjuction with The Athletic’s David Aldridge and Fred Katz.

The Wizards have offered Connelly a four-year contract that is in the ballpark financially of what Connelly was seeking, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets. Connelly was looking for a five-year deal but is seriously mulling the offer, Mannix adds. Connelly met today with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and advisor Mike Forde.

The four-year offer would coincide with the timeline for John Wall‘s super-max deal, Michael Lee of The Athletic notes in a tweet. Connelly or whoever takes the job will have to be creative in their roster construction due to the uncertainty of Wall’s health and his ability to return to All-Star status, Lee adds.

The Washington Post’s Candace Buckner speculated earlier on Friday that Washington would likely have to offer Connelly $4MM+ annually over five years to get him to leave Denver.

The Nuggets granted the Wizards permission to interview Connelly because of his ties to the Mid-Atlantic region and some extenuating family considerations, according to an ESPN report.

Denver could replace Connelly with GM Arturas Karnisovas if Connelly accepts the Wizards’ offer. It’s possible that draft-pick compensation could be involved if the Wizards hire Connelly away from the Nuggets, as Fred Katz of The Athletic points out.

The Wizards dismissed Ernie Grunfeld in early April. Tommy Sheppard has been running the front office on an interim basis.

Connelly has been running the Nuggets since the summer of 2013.

Wizards Meeting With Nuggets’ Tim Connelly

9:32am: Connelly will meet today with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and advisor Mike Forde, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. As Buckner explains, there has been a belief that Connelly didn’t want to interview for the job like a traditional applicant would, which is a signal that this meeting is serious.

Buckner adds (via Twitter) that Washington would likely have to offer Connelly $4MM+ annually over five years to get him to leave Denver.

7:32am: The Wizards have requested and received permission to meet with Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to discuss their own head of basketball operations vacancy, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. League sources tell Wojnarowski that the two sides could meet as soon as Friday.

NBA teams have the right to deny their executives permission to interview for a job with a rival club, particularly if it would be perceived as a lateral move. However, as Wojnarowski explains, Connelly has “deep ties to the Mid-Atlantic region and some extenuating family considerations,” so the Nuggets won’t stop him from exploring the opportunity. The Baltimore native likely wouldn’t have considered overtures from any team besides the Wizards, Woj notes.

The Nuggets are confident in the ability of general manager Arturas Karnisovas to assume control of their basketball operations if Connelly does decide to leave Denver, sources tell Wojnarowski. Connelly was initially elevated to his position after Masai Ujiri left for Toronto under similar circumstances, so the Nuggets have been in this position before.

It’s possible that draft-pick compensation could be involved if the Wizards hire Connelly away from the Nuggets, as Fred Katz of The Athletic points out.

The Wizards, who have been in the market for a new head of basketball operations since dismissing Ernie Grunfeld before the end of the regular season, will likely have to offer a substantial raise to lure Connelly away from Denver, as Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) and Katz observe. He’s believed to be earning a salary in the range of $2MM per year with the Nuggets.

While the Wizards have been conducting their search for Grunfeld’s replacement, Tommy Sheppard has been running the front office on an interim basis. Sheppard is under consideration for the permanent job, as are Thunder VP of basketball operations Troy Weaver and veteran executive Danny Ferry. Both Weaver and Ferry met with the Wizards for second interviews, according to reports from Katz and Shams Charania at The Athletic and Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

Southeast Notes: Connelly, Heat, Ressler

Now that the Nuggets’ season is over after a thrilling seven-game series loss to Portland, the Wizards are ramping up their efforts to hire Denver’s current president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to the same position in Washington, per Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington.

While there were questions as to why the Wizards would wait until the Nuggets’ season was over to pursue Connelly, Standig notes that Connelly wasn’t expected to fully explore a move until the Nuggets’ playoff run ended, despite reportedly having interest in running the Wizards.

The Nuggets appear to have an extremely bright future, but Connelly is from Baltimore and began his front office career in Washington in 1996 when he was hired as intern before working his way up to director of player personnel under then-general manager and Wizards’ legend Wes Unseld.

The Nuggets have been in a similar situation as this before. Back in 2013, Nuggets’ GM Masai Ujiri took the same position with the Raptors after team owner Stan Kroenke acquiesced to Ujiri’s desire to return to Toronto. It will interesting to see if a similar situation will arise with Connelly and the Wizards.

There’s more from the Southeast Division this evening:

  • While it remains highly unlikely that either Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic opt out of their contract with the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel relays that even if they did, Miami would still need to use the stretch provision on veteran forward Ryan Anderson just to get close to having enough cap space to sign a max-salary free agent. The more likely scenario is a trade of Dragic, but not Whiteside, after both opt in, especially considering the unlikelihood of a free agent wanting to sign with Miami if Whiteside and Dragic are both gone.
  • In another Q&A session for the Sun-Sentinel (link), Winderman agrees with one of his readers that the Heat probably mistimed their rebuild by beginning a little too early. Rather, they should have followed the lead of other Eastern Conference contenders and waited for LeBron James to leave the East before going into rebuild mode.
  • Despite a overwhelming consensus that this year’s draft crop is lacking in overall talent, Hawks’ owner Tony Ressler is not using that as an excuse, telling Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “If we can’t make two top-10 picks work for us, it’s our fault. Our job is to make them work and I think we will.”

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hawks, Hornets

There have been no recent updates on the Wizards‘ search for a new head of basketball operations, leading to speculation that Washington is waiting to make a run at current Nuggets president of basketball ops Tim Connelly.

While Connelly’s Nuggets are still alive in the playoffs, David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that if Connelly is the Wizards’ man, they should go after him now. As Aldridge points out, active postseason runs didn’t stop the Timberwolves from hiring Gersson Rosas, or the Suns from naming Monty Williams their new head coach.

It’s not entirely clear if the Wizards are still targeting Connelly, but Aldridge hears from several sources that Denver’s head of basketball ops would be “delighted” to run the Wizards. A previous report referred to the Wizards’ open position as Connelly’s “dream job.” Connelly is still under contract with the Nuggets, but if the Wizards make an offer that significantly exceeds his current salary – which Aldridge says is “just north” of $2MM per year – then he could go to Denver’s ownership in good faith and ask for the opportunity to run his hometown team.

So far, the Wizards have interviewed Danny Ferry, Tommy Sheppard, Troy Weaver, and Rosas for the front office vacancy, Aldridge confirms.

As we wait to see what the Wizards do to replace Ernie Grunfeld, here’s more from around the Southeast…