The Timberwolves are in serious talks with Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly over the franchise’s vacant president of basketball operations, sources say. Athleticism. The Timberwolves recently asked the Nuggets for permission to speak with Connelly, and the sides went beyond exploratory talks, sources said.
No deal has yet been reached and nothing appears imminent, sources said.
Connelly has become a serious target for the Timberwolves and marks the first known outside candidate for the position of head of the organization’s basketball department. Sachin Gupta, executive vice president of the Timberwolves, remains an important part of the organization’s long-term vision and is a candidate to continue overseeing basketball operations, sources said.
Connelly has established himself as one of the best team leaders in the NBA, making the Nuggets a perennial playoff contender who should be among the championship threats in 2022-23. He’s built a roster led by two-time league MVP Nikola Jokić, and with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. expected to return healthy next season, the Nuggets are optimistic their window is only just opening. Connelly has been the Nuggets’ top basketball decision maker for the past nine seasons, which has included playoff appearances in each of the past four years and runs to the Western Conference Finals in 2020. and two conference semifinals.
The Timberwolves are coming off a revival season in which they doubled their 2020-21 win tally, finishing with a 46-36 record, a victory over the LA Clippers in the Play-In Tournament and their first appearance in the playoffs in four seasons. They lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in six games, and now Wolves ownership is potentially looking to make moves in an effort to build on that success.
Gupta has led Wolves’ front office this season, taking on the lead role after Gersson Rosas was fired just days before training camp began in September. Gupta’s ability to calm what was a tense front office environment in the days leading up to Rosas’ firing drew praise from within, and his partnership with coach Chris Finch was a big part of the success. of the team.
Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor said Gupta would be evaluated after the season to determine if he would move forward with him or look elsewhere. Wolves haven’t ruled out the possibility of Gupta remaining in charge, sources have said. But the talks with Connelly represent a real consideration for hiring someone above Gupta.
Minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who joined the organization last summer with the intention of succeeding Taylor as majority owners of Wolves by the end of 2023, play an important role in the process of decision making.
Lore and Rodriguez have injected a bit of enthusiasm and aggression into the organization since their arrival. One of Lore’s core philosophies in the businesses 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 is also keen to work with Lore and Rodriguez to ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.
Connelly is well regarded across the league for his role in building a Nuggets roster rich in top talent and depth as well, with finds like Monte Morris and Bones Hyland emerging as strong rotational players . The Nuggets started the season as one of the West’s favorites, 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 leadership, the Nuggets brought in coach Michael Malone and assembled a respected front office staff that included Arturas Karnisovas, who rose to general manager position within his Nuggets front office and left for serve as executive vice president of the Chicago Bulls in 2020. This led to Denver promoting assistant general manager Calvin Booth to general manager.
Leaving the two-time MVP for the Minnesota upstart 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 coach revered throughout the organization and an ownership group that seems motivated to invest in the organism.
Gupta said at the end of his end-of-season press conference that he would continue to lead the way until further notice. He made the decision not to exercise the option on assistant GM Gianluca Pascucci’s contract and also hired Steve Senior away from the Memphis Grizzlies to create a newly created assistant GM position in charge of player development.
Taylor, Lore and Rodriguez allowed Gupta to make those decisions while they considered their options.
(Photo: Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)