NUGGETS

Believe in the Kroenkes’ golden touch if they allow Connelly to leave

May 23, 2022, 6:57 AM | Updated: 11:12 am
Josh Kroenke...
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Listen, I get it.

Tim Connelly is meeting with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who want to pry him from the team he’s rebuilt from rubble to make him one of the highest-paid executives in the league, and it’s got Nuggets Nation in a frenzy.

“The Kroenkes are cheapskates! They’re not committed to winning!” screams can be heard across the internet.

Believe it or not, there’s a case for Stan Kroenke to let Tim Connelly walk, as many expect him to. The biggest reason? Belief in the people at the center of criticism: Stan and Josh Kroenke.

Say what you want about the Altitude/Comcast debacle, which is a major black eye for the organization, Kroenke’s teams are winners.

The Rams just won a Super Bowl in their palatial Los Angeles stadium, which Stan brought to life. The Avalanche are nearly one-third of the way toward completing Mission 16W for the first time in more than two decades. The Nuggets, with Connelly’s help, are in the middle of one of their most successful stretches in franchise history and are anchored by Colorado’s only two-time MVP.

Have the Kroenkes not earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt? Stan brought Sean McVay to L.A. and Joe Sakic back to Denver, and Josh put Connelly in position to have the success he’s had.

Let’s not forget that last part: Josh identified and elevated Connelly to replace Masai Ujiri. Why would he and his father not be able to do the same this time around?

Under Connelly, the Nuggets have been built around drafting and developing homegrown talent. In a league often dominated by “super teams,” the Nuggets have been determined to thrive as the outlier. In many ways, they’ve succeeded in that, but it’s also left them short of a title.

No team in the NBA, outside of perhaps Milwaukee, embodies the homegrown, small-market model better than the Nuggets. With that said, it’s fair to question if that very mindset has been what’s kept them from reaching the mountain top.

Perhaps a new set of eyes, with a fresh perspective, could help the Nuggets cross the finish line without being burdened by unwavering loyalty to certain players and coaches. For example, if Connelly can’t bring himself to part with Will Barton, his successor just might.

It’s worth noting that the aforementioned Rams brought the Lombardi trophy home in large part because they embraced a new philosophical approach and cashed in all of their chips to acquire the one thing their team was truly missing. Those same opportunities theoretically exist for the Nuggets, but someone has to be willing to make those moves, and it’s fair to question if that person isn’t Connelly.

Connelly’s impact on the Nuggets has been profound thus far, and of course the team wouldn’t be where they are now without his influence. However similar sentiments existed when Ujiri exited, while this iteration of the Nuggets is in a much stronger position for the executive that inherits control. Stan and Josh Kroenke know this, and it’s a major reason why they’re not sweating Connelly’s pending exit. They’re winners, and they’re banking on themselves.

If the Nuggets allow Minnesota to whisk Connelly off his feet and end his days in Denver, it will mark the end of an era, but all hope would not be lost. The Nuggets still have Nikola Jokic, they’ll still be getting Jamal Murray back and perhaps most importantly – they’ll still have Stan and Josh Kroenke’s golden touch.

In Stan and Josh we trust?

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Believe in the Kroenkes’ golden touch if they allow Connelly to leave