Nuggets’ Connelly: Relationships kept me here

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

Denver Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly addressed his decision to interview with the Washington Wizards for the first time in his end-of-year media availability Tuesday. 

The 42-year-old’s ties to the Wizards organization was a big reason why he accepted the interview. He started his career in the NBA with the team and spent 14 years there. He also hails from nearby Baltimore with plenty of family ties in the region. Yet, after having conversations with executives from the Eastern Conference team over the weekend, he decided he couldn’t walk away from what he started in the Mile High City and the relationships he’s formed the past six years.

“Loyalty and patience are such a rarity in sports – that’s here in spades,” Connelly said. “Those things matter to me and it matters to me the relationships I have across this whole building [Pepsi Center]. You kind of close your eyes and envision yourself somewhere and you think about those relationships, I had a hard time envisioning myself elsewhere.” 

In an interview with Altitude Radio Monday, Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke acknowledged allowing Connelly to leave would have been tough for the organization, but felt he needed to show trust in his colleague. Connelly’s relationship with Kroenke and head coach Michael Malone played a significant part in his decision to stay.

“Ownership has been unbelievably patient with all of us,” Connelly said. “Without that patience, we couldn’t have that slow build to where we are now.” 

He added, “The continuity is a byproduct of loyalty. When Josh hired me, filling some of the biggest shoes in the NBA, we did not get off to a good start by any stretch. We had a couple of down years. He doubled down on what easily could have been perceived as an initial mistake. [That’s] because he liked our processes and how we attacked our job day-to-day.”

If Connelly had decided to leave, his most likely successor would have been current General Manager Artūras Karnišovas. It was a point Malone acknowledged in his press conference. The coach, however, was quick to point out the importance of stability. 

“I didn't want to see him leave,” Malone said. “Now, I say that with the full confidence that Arturas would have done a great job and we wouldn't have skipped a beat. But I also realize that I am the head coach in Denver because of Tim Connelly.”
 
Malone believes the current synergy among the coaching staff, front office and ownership will help the Nuggets in reaching their long term goals. A big part of that is Connelly’s decision to stay. 
 
“I know we say this a lot, but there are 30 teams in the NBA, and I can't imagine there is another team from ownership, front office and coaching staff that has the relationship and alignment that we have.” Malone said. “That's something that neither Tim, myself or Josh take for granted. I love the fact that Tim has decided to stay here with us, so we can build and bring a championship home to the city of Denver, which drives all of us.” 

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