The Timberwolves Have serious conversations with Denver Nuggets President Tim Connelly on the vacant COO role in the franchise, sources say athlete. The Timberwolves recently asked for permission from the Nuggets to speak with Connelly, and the two sides bypassed exploratory talks, sources said.
The sources said that no agreements have been reached yet and nothing appears to be imminent.
Connelly has emerged as a serious target for the Timberwolves and represents the organization’s first known outside candidate for a leadership position in basketball. Sources said Sachin Gupta, Timberwolves’ executive vice president, remains an important part of the organization’s long-term vision and is a candidate to continue overseeing basketball operations.
Connelly has established himself as one of the chief executives of the NBA team, building the Nuggets into a perennial post-season contender who is expected to be among the championship threats in 2022-23. He’s built a roster led by two-time League Player of the Year Nikola Jokic, and with the expected return of healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. next season, the Nuggets are optimistic their window is just opening. Connelly has been the leading decision-maker in basketball for the Nuggets for the past nine seasons, which has included supplement appearances in each of the past four years and extending to the 2020 Western Conference Finals and Conference semi-finals.
The Timberwolves are coming off a renaissance season as they double their winning total from 2020-21, finishing with a 46-36 record, their victory over the LA Clippers in the Play-In Tournament and their first playoff appearance in four seasons. They lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in six matches, and now the Wolves ownership will likely be looking to take steps in an effort to build on that success.
Gupta has led Wolverhampton’s front office this season, taking over the position after Gerson Rosas was sent off just days before the start of training camp in September. Gupta’s ability to calm what was once a tense front office environment in the days before Rosas was sacked was praised from within, and his partnership with coach Chris Finch was a huge part of the team’s success.
Timberwolves majority owner Glenn Taylor said Gupta will be evaluated after the season to determine whether to move forward with him or look elsewhere. The sources said that Wolves did not rule out the possibility of Gupta remaining in power. But conversations with Connelly are a real consideration for hiring someone above Gupta.
A notable factor in the decision-making process are minority owners Mark Lower and Alex Rodriguez, who joined the organization last summer with the intent of succeeding Taylor as majority wolves owners by the end of 2023.
Laure and Rodriguez have injected some enthusiasm and aggressiveness into the organization since their arrival. One of Laure’s core philosophies in the business he ran has been to hire the best people possible, no matter the cost.
Any decision of this magnitude will ultimately be made by Taylor, who has built a strong relationship with Gupta over the past year, but who also wants to work with Laure and Rodriguez to ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.
Connelly is well believed throughout the league for his role in building Nuggets’ rich roster of talent at the top that is also in depth, with finds like Monte Morris and Bones Hyland becoming strong players in the rotation. The Nuggets started the season as one of the favorites in the West, but injuries to Murray and Porter contributed to a season that ended in a first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Under Connelly’s direction, the Nuggets team brought in coach Michael Malone and rounded up respected front office employees including Arturas Karnisovas, who rose to the position of General Manager within his front office at the Nuggets and left to take over as Executive Vice President at the Chicago Bulls in 2020. This led to a promotion Denver to Assistant General Manager Calvin Booth to General Manager.
Leaving the two-time MVP for the Minnesota Novice would be a bold move. But the Timberwolves have a pair of building blocks in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, promising young talent in Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt, a respected coach throughout the organization and an ownership group that seems eager to invest in the organization.
Gupta said at the end of his season finale press conference that he will continue to drive until he is told otherwise. He has made the decision not to exercise the option on the Assistant GM contract for Gianluca Pascucci, and has also hired Steve Senior away from Memphis Grizzlies to begin the newly created position of Assistant GM responsible for player development.
Taylor, Lore, and Rodriguez enabled Gupta to make those decisions while they considered their options.
(Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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