The Kroenkes are sending mixed messages with Tim Connelly
On Monday, it became official. Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly is heading to Minnesota to fill a similar role with the Timberwolves.
The reason is money. And respect.
Connelly took over the Nuggets in 2013 as one of the lowest-paid GMs in the NBA. During his time in Denver, he has hired Michael Malone, drafted Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, and built the Nuggets into one of the NBA’s shining examples of how to draft and develop a team while living in a small to mid-market where free agents don’t tend to flock.
Connelly has also helped foster a tight knit team and organization where loyalty is preached and rewarded. Well, most of the time.
Apparently, Stan and Josh Kroenke don’t value loyalty when it comes to their executives. They famously let Masai Ujiri go over money. Now, they are set to do the same with Connelly.
It doesn’t make sense. Why spend hundreds of millions of dollars on players, but suddenly become penurious when it comes to a guy like Connelly who has shown he’s got what it takes to get the job done in a market where a team has to draft well because they aren’t going to be able to entice big-time free agents? Oh and along the way, he built a reputation of being honest and genuinely caring of your players.
All this for a guy who doesn’t want to leave Denver, but at some point realizes if there’s a market for what he does. The owners don’t want to reward him, so just for ego and respect reasons alone, he’s gotta leave.
Why don’t the Kroenkes want to pay an extra $3-4 million a year for a top-notch GM like Connelly? They have had no problem paying the much maligned Will Barton $13 million a year for the last four years. Let me ask you: Who do you think is more valuable to the Nuggets – Will Barton or Tim Connelly? I rest my case.
This is strange. The Nuggets are in a championship window. So are the Avalanche. Yet both teams have below-average practice facilities. Why so cheap there? It feels like the Kroenkes want to win, but there are limits they’ll stop at when it comes to going all out to win. Paying executives and ponying up for top-notch practice facilities are clearly not that important to them. They obviously don’t feel spending top dollar in those areas leads to championship success.
Oh yeah, apparently making sure the overwhelming majority of their fans be able to see the Nuggets and Avalanche play on TV isn’t that important either when it comes to spending money and doing what’s important.
The Nuggets are in a championship window. But as Michael Malone correctly pointed out, these windows can close quickly.
Are the Kroenkes committed to winning? Letting Tim Connelly go could be one of those mistakes that causes this window to close earlier than it should.