On Wednesday, a door opened for Arturas Karnisovas that had previously been shut in the last few weeks while he was a candidate for the Milwaukee Bucks general manager job: The Nuggets’ draft room door.
“I want to thank (Josh Kroenke) and Stan (Kroenke) for working on getting me back in the draft room,” Karnisovas said with a grin. “They kept so much information away from me, and it was getting frustrating. It was in a playful manner, but it got to the point where as the process was getting closer, it was getting a little bit awkward in terms of what you can share and what you can keep away from me. But on (Wednesday) they were like ‘Hey, welcome back to the draft room. And by the way, these are the things that we kept from you.’”
Karnisovas smiled through the story because he understood. The Bucks were putting a full-court press on the Nuggets’ assistant general manager, and things were getting so hot and heavy that team president and governor, Josh Kroenke, pulled the trigger on making an offer to make certain Karnisovas stayed in Denver. It kicked off a series of promotions. Karnisovas was elevated to general manager. Tim Connelly, who was Nuggets general manager since 2013, was promoted to president of basketball operations. It is expected that Kroenke will at some point drop “president” from his own title, but there are details still to be sorted out.
The main point, however, is the Nuggets are keeping their front office intact. There has been a raid on this franchise��s talent in this offseason, from the coaching staff to the front office. Assistant coach Chris Finch is now in New Orleans with the Pelicans. Orlando recently hired Pete D’Alessandro, vice president of business and team operations, to become their new assistant general manager. Kroenke worked hard to keep Karnisovas and was ultimately successful.
“I’m extremely happy,” Karnisovas said. “Sometimes people are like “(Arturas), are you happy?” It’s just my demeanor. But I’m the kind of guy that if we start something I’d like to see it through. I’m a competitive person as well, and would like to see the Denver Nuggets be successful. A lack of success the last couple of years has been bothering all of us. But again, we need to be patient.
“We have a very young team and great coaching staff that made those players better as well. There were a lot of players last year that got better. Not only stats, but you can see with the quality of play. So, to be able to stay here longer and be with this group of guys that treat you like family, it’s good.”
Karnisovas has been with the Nuggets since 2013.
“About the actual process, I can’t tell you details but I was in the hunt,” Karnisovas said. “So, I went through the interview process. Josh (Kroenke) looked up and wanted the process to be over. … It just came out of the blue, and shows what the Kroenke family wants to build here, and especially Josh, the continuity here, to keep this group together.”
Connelly and Kroenke have always shone a bright light on the importance of continuity in the coaching staff and front office. Wednesday’s series of promotions makes certain stability remains in the decision-making roles. Karnisovas said he and Connelly have had a solid working relationship.
“We complement each other well, and work well together,” Karnisovas said. “We also value relationships and we value continuity. I think Tim is a great talent evaluator…and he’s a great person. So, I couldn’t say good enough words. So, we are going to try and stay together as long as possible and continue what we started here. I think he’s the same way. We’re all accountable for what we try to build here, and if it doesn’t succeed we’re obviously going to take responsibility for what happens. So, I love to be part of it.”