Tim Connelly introductory press conference transcript
Denver Nuggets president Josh Kroenke introduces new GM, executive VP of basketball ops
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke formally introduced Tim Connelly as the team's general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations on Thursday. Below is a transcript of their joint press conference.
Josh Kroenke: Hello again everybody. Welcome back. I have some exciting news to discuss this morning as we introduce Tim Connelly as our new General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Denver Nuggets. I’ve known Tim for the last few years. I met him through Masai (Ujiri). Right after I hired Masai we went down to New Orleans and met (Tim) at I think a preseason game. We went to dinner and had a good time talking basketball and getting to know one another and stayed in loose contact over the years and it became a very easy decision to hire him and bring him here after a couple of dominos started to fall. It was a great process and I am really excited to have Tim here. It is going to be a lot of fun to have him here and I hope Nuggets fans are as excited as I am. Without further ado, here is Tim Connelly.
Tim Connelly: Thanks Josh. I would like to thank the entire Kroenke family for this opportunity. I want to thank my good friend Masai Ujiri who left the house in such good order. They are going to be big shoes to fill. I think the theme of today would be change. Today, I want to talk about growth. There is a culture that is already engrained here; a winning culture. It is a heck of a team that I am inheriting; 57 wins and chock-full of talent. It is a very supportive ownership and it’s a great city. I kind of got to this seat in an atypical path. Anyone who has been unfortunate to see me play knows that I am not much of a player, but in my 17 years in the NBA I have been lucky to work with, for, and against some of the brightest basketball minds in this league. Through those unique experiences I have done pretty much everything from delivering the mail to making trades and everything in between. All of those countless experiences have prepared me for this challenge. It is a challenge and an exciting challenge. But I’m confident that over those 17 years I have reached this point and I feel great about where this team is. I’m hoping next year that we’re having a similar press conference where we can say that we grew from where we are presently. I’m just thankful to be here. I look forward to meeting everyone in this room and getting to know everyone a little bit more.
Josh, what was the timeline on this whole process?
Kroenke: "Tim and I had hellos here and hellos there but we kind of kept tabs on each other over the years. I have a mental checklist of guys that I like around the league and Tim was atop that list all along. Pete (D’Alessandro) and I discussed the position and I think he is going to have a wonderful opportunity in Sacramento. I think he’s really excited and I’m really excited for him. Once that happened I didn’t waste any time. It was a quick decision for me and there was one person that I wanted to bring in right away and discuss the position – and that was Tim. I made a quick phone call, made a few arrangements and less than 24 hours later, me and Tim were meeting. It was an easy decision to make and I think Tim is just as excited as I was."
Tim, what is the process in hiring a coach?
Connelly: "I got here and the process had already picked up. We’ve been fortunate to interview a couple guys over the last few days that I’m sure you guys are aware of the names. I think after this press conference, I’m looking forward to getting back to work, establishing the staff, and it’s an ongoing process, very fluid. The two guys we have talked to are tremendous and after this I look forward to going into Josh’s office and see where we go in that process."
Josh, what kept Tim at the top of your list all of those years?
Kroenke: "I knew he had a wonderful grasp on basketball. Just from conversations with him and different conversations from people around the league. Tim’s personality kept him at the top of the list. This is a relationship business. You want to work with people and after a few pointed questions at dinner on Saturday night I offered him the job because to me, and I know I speak for Masai and Pete when I say this, but we have a culture of family and a culture of fun in the Denver Nuggets front office. As long as Tim and I are on the same page about having fun going forward I think it’s going to be a great relationship and one that is going to bring some wins in there as well."
Why was Sacramento a better fit for Pete and why have you lost so much of your scouting staff?
Kroenke: “I think that when front offices change, people like to bring in different people that they are comfortable with. I assume you are talking about Mike Bratz and Dan Tolzman when you ask that question. Dan has moved on to Toronto and I think that is a great opportunity for him to continue working with Masai. Mike Bratz, I am not sure of the situation, I will leave that up to the team in Sacramento to decide and for Pete and the new Sacramento ownership to decide. I am well aware of the possibility; I know Mike knows how much we value him here.
As far as Pete is concerned, Pete had never been asked to interview for a position like that before and he was excited about the possibility. We discussed the future here in Denver about the position, and it was a very fluid process because we were in the middle of the George (Karl) discussions as well. Pete said he felt like he wanted to go interview. I don’t know how many people know Pete in this room real well but Pete is a great guy and going to do wonderful things in Sacramento. I think it was a possibility for a different step, guys move around the league to build different resumes and get different experiences. I think back to three years ago Pete wasn’t even in basketball and three years ago I also hired a guy named Masai Ujiri who people didn’t know about. To have those guys in the positions they are in today I think is a testament to our organization and I think it is a testament to them as people. I wish them both the best. I think the hiring of Tim is going to be wonderful for us here in Denver and I look forward to watching what Masai and Pete can do in Toronto and Sacramento; I think they are going to do great.
How quickly do you plan on the coaching situation to be resolved and do you expect to interview anyone else?
Connelly “I don’t think we want to put a timeline on anything. There is a potential to talk to different candidates but we have talked to two great guys already. I think that whirlwind that I have experienced the last several days we have yet to really sit down and really share thoughts on where we are in the process. Again, we have talked to two great candidates and there is a couple guys we could potentially talk to but I don’t want to put a timeline on anything.”
What qualities do you want in a head coach?
Connelly: “I got here primarily with through my relationships, Masai is one of best friends and I have known Josh for several years. In New Orleans, I had an unbelievable opportunity to work with Dell Demps and develop a relationship on the road. What I really want and what I want to focus on is a culture of continuity and the ability to work with someone. I think it is increasingly difficult to reach the heights we are hoping to reach if you don’t have a good working relationship. So I think in terms of style of play, we’re a face-paced team. This is Denver we are going to play in the 100s. I would never try to impose any strategic restraints on a coach. I am looking for a good guy, who is excited for the job and looking to build off where we are presently.”
When you look at the roster what do you see?
Connelly: “I see I am the luckiest guy in the world. I see a roster that we really thought highly of in New Orleans. When you are in the other room sometimes you are most objective and most truthful. Over the course of our discussions I told Josh it is rare where you get jobs like this with a roster with this much talent. I am familiar with all the guys, I know a few of them pretty well. This is a 57-win team, and again, it is about growing on that. The foundation is there; I think we just have to build off that firm foundation and get some internal growth from some role players, also be opportunistic with trades and free agency and maximize our draft picks. The cupboard is full with an excellent roster.”
Do you feel that the league is turning into a young man’s game?
Kroenke: “I wouldn’t say that. I know that Tim and I have a thing in common in where we don’t pretend to know everything. You have to have balance. You have to have balance on a roster, you have to have balance on a coaching staff and you have to have balance in your front office. Just because Tim and I are young and energetic doesn’t mean we aren’t going to solicit opinions from guys who have been around the business and have done it before.”
Connelly: “I would say I am flattered you called me young. Maybe young in age, but I feel as if I am almost a young veteran. I came into this league working for Wes Unseld Sr. I actually talked to him yesterday and he was great. I have worked for some legends of the game like Wes, Michael Jordan, and Ernie Grunfeld. Certainly I am young and energetic and I am excited to use that energy but I feel I am a veteran of the NBA."
Top two coaching candidates appear to be Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins. If the Clippers hire Doc Rivers, Boston will have an opening. If you don’t make a decision soon, how concerned are you that you might lose one of your top guys?
Kroenke: "I’m comfortable with everything as long as both of us are on the same page when we make the decision. I don’t think either of us want to put a specific time frame on anything or have another team try and dictate a time frame for us based on a potential hire they might have. We’re going to do things at our own pace. When Tim and I both become comfortable with a name that we think is going to be good for our roster, that’s when we’ll make the decision. If somebody makes a decision between now and then, we’ll adjust our thinking accordingly.
Tim, you were at Washington when JaVale was young. Describe your relationship with JaVale McGee?
Connelly: “JaVale was the first player to text me when the news became official. I’m a big JaVale McGee fan. I was active in that selection. I think he has a world of potential. He’s a young player. Young bigs in particular probably demand a bit more patience. I’ve been pretty direct with JaVale. I think our ability to grow off of where we are is largely dependent on his growth. The bar is very high with JaVale and I expect a lot from him. If what I expect can come to fruition – which I’m hopeful can be the case – he’s one of the players on our present roster that will allow us to make that jump.”
Andre Iguodala is expected to opt out of his contract. Are you optimistic he will return to Denver?
Kroenke: “One-hundred percent. We’ve had some good discussions bout that already. I had a good conversation with his agent last week. Looking forward to following up with them. Andre’s somebody we definitely want to bring back and he’s well aware of our intentions to bring him back as well.”
Connelly: “The last guy we spoke to prior to this press room was Andre. He’s such a pro. He’s in there working out. He’s priority No. 1. We’ll be very proactive trying to reach an agreement that both sides are happy with.”
A lot of guys coming in to work out. How do you get caught up with the roster?
Connelly: “I’m a scout first and foremost. Over the 17 years I’ve been in the NBA, I’ve spent way too much time on the road watching games, as my fiancée can attest to. I’m familiar with these guys. Familiar with how they fit within the roster and picking the brains of the staff that’s here, that’s what I need to get caught up to speed with. I’m confident that I know the lay of the land with the draft and I’m confident that next Thursday we’ll make the right selection or we’ll be creative with the pick. I know the players. I feel good about that.”
How will you make final decisions in the front office?
Connelly: “I’m a big believer in working “with,” not working “for.” That’s up and down. I think we had a lot of success in New Orleans with that mindset. I can’t wait to work “with” Josh, work “with” our head coach, work “with” our staff. It’s a collective decision making process. Whatever decision we make – it’s a mistake business – I think we want to make informed mistakes. We want to make confident decisions. When the door opens, however we reach that point, it’s a Denver Nuggets decision. It’ll be a collective decision making process. I’m excited.
Kroenke: I just want to say thank you to Masai and Pete again. You guys were wonderful. I want to say thanks to Dell Demps and Tom Benson and the New Orleans Pelicans organization. It’s been a fun process. I know Tim’s excited to be here. I’m excited to have him and it’s going to be a lot of fun for Nuggets fans to get to know Tim over the next few years as well.