Nuggets reward GM Connelly with deal
Extension comes as good news to Coach Malone too
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.”