NUGGETS

Malone sounds off on moves in Nuggets front office, ‘nothing changes’

Jun 13, 2022, 1:21 PM
Michael Malone...
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Michael Malone made it a point to chat with the media during an NBA Draft workout on Friday.

Amid changes in the front office, which saw Tim Connelly leave his post in Denver for one in the Twin Cities, Malone is confident in the new lead man. Calvin Booth, the team’s general manager, remains in the role but will have a much bigger voice. But so too may Malone.

“I talked to Tim 1,000 times throughout the whole process, I would not be here without Tim Connelly, and I’m going to be close friends with Tim; we’re gonna miss him and Meghan and their kids,” Malone said. “But like for me, more was made of that that needed to be like nothing changes. Nope, We have a good thing going. I told Josh (Kroenke) right when it happened; I said, ‘I fully endorse Calvin Booth.’”

Booth is a former NBA player and has been with the Nuggets front office for years. He spoke earlier in the week, detailing that the club’s plans have not changed.

“I think Calvin, aside from being a tremendous human being, is more than ready for this opportunity to lead this team and that position. It allows us to have continuity, and I think the fact that Calvin and I already have a relationship allows for this discount to be smooth,” Malone said. “I told the guys, ‘I’m here to do whatever you need. Draft, trades, free agency.’ After seven years, I think I have a pretty good feel for who we are, what our strengths are, what our weaknesses are, and how we can address those. So a lot of constant communication.”

“I love my conversations with Calvin about his thought process and how we can improve this team. I felt how important this offseason was and how we must be a much better defensive team. You can’t be 15 in defense. In the last four, we’re all in the top five defensively. We have to find a way to be better. That’s on me as a coach, but it’s also on adding some pieces that can help that out, and I’m really comfortable with Calvin. I’m thrilled for him to have this opportunity. He has earned this opportunity, and I have zero doubt that he will excel in his new position.”

The Nuggets do have a crucial offseason. The club traded for a second first-round pick on Monday, now selecting at No. 21 and No. 30. They have some other assets but clear needs focused on perimeter defense and health.

“We have played a lot of basketball the last two, three years; I think getting back to a normal offseason will allow guys like Nikola to kind of recharge both mentally, physically, and emotionally,” Malone said. “This allows guys like Michael and Jamal to continue to rehab and get healthy so they can attack and come into next season as close to 100%… We can use this offseason to recharge; we can use the offseason to improve individually; we can use this offseason to improve as a team using the draft, free agency, and trade, so I think it’s a really important time for us. Nikola’s windows is only open for so long. Let’s do everything possible to attack this and put the best team on that floor.”

Nikola’s window is open, as is the Avs—only four wins away from the Stanley Cup Final. Malone’s team, a co-tenant in Ball Arena with Jared Bednar’s Avs, is pumped about the sister team’s success.

“I go back to when we were in the bubble, what I hated, the only negative about the run we made the bubble is that we weren’t here in Denver to feel it,” Malone said. “I was talking to people in the neighborhood. My sister, who lives down the block, said it was incredible. Like it hadn’t been like that in a long time. We didn’t get a chance to really experience but being here for the Avs and watching that… I sent Jared a message the other day, just telling them, ‘you guys are crushing it, so happy for you.’ And I hope you guys can bring home the Stanley Cup, but to see how crazy the city is behind them. How packed this place is, and how tough it is what the environment they’ve created is, yeah, this is something we want to follow.

“When I speak to Stan and Josh Kroenke, I know this; they are dying to bring home an NBA championship with Denver,” Malone said. “And that motivates me, Calvin, and everyone else in this building. And hopefully, we can bring the cup back here to Denver, and I’ll be a big fan and try to support those guys.”

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