Nuggets re­ward GM Con­nelly with deal

Ex­ten­sion comes as good news to Coach Malone too

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey

Nuggets gen­eral man­ager Tim Con­nelly knows there is much work to be done, but now he has been given the time to be able to do it.

Two things stood out about the Nuggets an­nounc­ing Tues­day they ex­tended Con­nelly’s con­tract, a three-year deal. First is the val­i­da­tion of get­ting the deal done — it had been in the works for sev­eral months. While there may have been ques­tions on the out­side about hang­ing onto Con­nelly and as­sis­tant GM Ar­turas Kar­niso­vas and their staff, there never were on the in­side.

Se­cond, the Nuggets got the deal done dur­ing the sea­son. There were lessons learned from the failed at­tempt to re-sign pre­vi­ous gen­eral man­ager Ma­sai Ujiri that team pres­i­dent Josh Kroenke wasn’t will­ing to re­peat. He signed Con­nelly to a con­tract now rather than agree to fi­nal­ize things af­ter the sea­son.

And with ev­ery­one back on board, the Nuggets can con­tinue with Con­nelly’s re­build­ing of the team.

“I’ve been given such an un­be­liev­able op­por­tu­nity,” Con­nelly said. “And quite frankly, we haven’t done as well as we should have. I’m more ex­cited and lucky … to have a boss like Josh, who kind of sees the vi­sion we have. Pa­tience isn’t some­thing you see very of­ten in pro­fes­sional sports, and I think the Kroenkes kind of buck that trend. Hope­fully, we’re able to get back to the win­ning ways that they de­serve and our fans de­serve.”

Nuggets coach Michael Malone agreed to coach in Den­ver in large part be­cause of his re­la­tion­ships with Con­nelly and Kar­niso­vas.

“The fact that it is no longer a dis­trac­tion for them. They know they’re go­ing to be here. I know they’re go­ing to be here and that we have a chance to­gether to build some­thing spe­cial,” Malone said. “The re­al­ity, as we all know, is any team, (the) head coach and GM need to be on the same page, need to have con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion, open and hon­est. I have that with Tim. We’re not al­ways go­ing to agree, but we’re go­ing to chal­lenge each other to try to get this thing right. So I’m happy for Tim, for Ar­turas and the rest of the staff.”

Con­nelly’s big­gest pluses have come in the draft, where the Nuggets have amassed promis­ing young play­ers such as Gary Har­ris, Jusuf Nur­kic, Em­manuel Mu­diay and Nikola Jo­kic. Con­nelly has also been able to quickly carve out an at­mos­phere con­ducive to hard work and op­ti­mism, which wasn’t present as much as it should have been un­der pre­vi­ous coach Brian Shaw.

Con­nelly’s big­gest task is get­ting the foun­da­tion to start bear­ing fruit. The Nuggets are 82-123 in the 2½ sea­sons un­der Con­nelly.

“Quite frankly, I thought we were go­ing to be a good team in Year 1,” Con­nelly said. “I was em­bar­rassed by Year 2. We had pretty high ex­pec­ta­tions, and it never meshed. I’m happy that we were pretty ag­gres­sive try­ing to change mid­stream as last sea­son went the wrong way.

“I’m very ex­cited about the young core that we have. I think our coach­ing staff is the best in the NBA. And I think there’s a very bright light at the end of the tun­nel.”


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