Former Nuggets president Tim Connelly admitted many “sleepless nights,” as he mulled the decision whether to leave Denver to run the Minnesota Timberwolves organization.
Connelly, speaking Tuesday as the Wolves introduced him as their new team president, was candid about how difficult it was to leave the organization he oversaw since 2013.
“I wasn’t looking for this,” said Connelly, seated between Minnesota’s outgoing owner (Glen Taylor) and their incoming ones (Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez).
“It was such a unique opportunity that was presented to me,” he said. “The last nine years have been the best nine years professionally you could ever imagine. … There was a lot of sleepless nights. As you have those sleepless nights, it makes you dig even deeper internally, and be even more introspective, and ask yourself, ‘Is this something you want to do?’ It’s a leap of faith, certainly.
“I would be disingenuous to sit up here and say it was easy,” he said.
Connelly said the vision presented to him by Minnesota’s ownership group was appealing enough to consider the offer. He ultimately left for a five-year, $40 million deal that included equity in the franchise, sources said.
The Nuggets countered, but there was still a significant gap between the two offers. Minnesota’s courtship began after Taylor called the Kroenkes and was granted permission to talk to Connelly.
As he made his opening statement on Tuesday, Connelly thanked the Kroenkes, coach Michael Malone and general manager Calvin Booth for the support they showed him as they, collectively, built the Nuggets into one of the most competitive organizations in the league.
“This is a culmination of their hard work,” Connelly said.
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Booth is expected to formally assume responsibilities as the Nuggets’ top decision-maker though that announcement hasn’t officially come yet. Team governor Josh Kroenke is expected to address the media later this week after a positive COVID test delayed his initial news conference.
As is his nature, Connelly downplayed his own decision-making and joked his new job was to avoid messing up the foundation Minnesota’s built.
Asked his early impressions of Karl-Anthony Towns, Connelly cited his work ethic, then called him “probably the best shooting big in the NBA.”
Dating back to Game 82 in 2018, Nuggets-Wolves games have always carried some extra weight. Connelly’s wistful departure adds one more intriguing layer to a rivalry that could be budding on the horizon.