On Monday morning it was revealed that Tim Connelly, former assistant general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, would be the Denver Nuggets’ new Vice President of Basketball Operations. Not much is known about Connelly at this time in terms of his abilities. Those talents can only be revealed after he has assumed his (somewhat titular) GM position in Denver and made moves that can be analyzed. Here is what we do know about his background…
Connelly, like Ujiri, is known for his international scouting abilities and has a vast basketball background… “His reputation around the league as a front-office rising star is spot-on,” said Chicago Bulls assistant general manager Brian Hagen, who worked with Connelly in New Orleans. “I think the world of him. He’s a class act who is hard-working, smart and will have a plan and process in place for the Nuggets’ continued success.”… Connelly, 36, joined New Orleans in 2010 after working as the director of player personnel for the Washington Wizards. In New Orleans he worked under Dell Demps. Connelly first got his first NBA experience in 1996, working as an intern for the Wizards. After graduating from Catholic University in Washington D.C. in 1999, he was hired by the Wizards as the assistant video coordinator. He became a scout the following season.
Connelly, 36, joins the Nuggets front office after three seasons as assistant general manager of the New Orleans Pelicans, where he worked closely with general manager Dell Demps. Connelly’s duties included scouting, draft preparation, trade negotiations and player contracts… Prior to his time in New Orleans, Connelly spent 10 years with the Washington Wizards organization, rising to director of player personnel. His role included overseeing scouting, salary cap and database management, player evaluation and assisting the vice president of player personnel with all front office duties… A native of Baltimore, Connelly began working with the Wizards as an intern in the basketball operations department in 1996 and joined the team full-time as the assistant video coordinator in 1999. He became a full-time scout in 2000 and spent four years in that role before becoming the director of player personnel… Connelly has strong international connections, having traveled globally to identify talent around the world. He currently serves on the board of the GEN Basketball Academy, a Sarajevo-based academy funded by NATO, and has assisted with their youth camps… In addition, Connelly has also worked as an instructor at the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” program in Moscow, Russia, last year. His first experience with the program took place in South Africa in 2006. That same summer, he was involved with the Seed Academy in Dakar, Senegal.
Connelly, 36, has been considered one of the league’s rising young executive stars and will move immediately into the Nuggets’ search for a coach and preparation for the NBA draft and free agency… Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke plans to work closely with Connelly in reshaping the Nuggets’ front office and building upon a 57-victory team that earned the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs… Connelly is part of a younger generation of league executives moving into top management positions and has been compared favorably to Orlando’s Rob Hennigan and Phoenix’s Ryan McDonough as part of the league’s next crop of bright young minds… After learning that his best internal candidate, Pete D’Alessandro, had left to take the Sacramento Kings GM job late last week, Kroenke targeted Connelly and moved quickly to hire him over the weekend, sources said.
Reaction: All signs point to this being a good hire. As a Nuggets fan, that’s really all you can ask for. I’ve argued repeatedly that a youth movement (or, more specifically, those who are seen as “up and comers” in the NBA) would be in the best interest of the Nuggets franchise moving forward. Why? Because up and comers are hungry. They’ve paid their dues. They’ve earned the respect of their peers and have fought for years to get to the top. Moving up the talent-evaluator echelon of an NBA franchise is no easy task. With millions of dollars at stake, (most) franchises understand which types of people will ensure perpetual success. So it’s no coincidence that up and comers are usually very bright people. By all accounts, Tim Connolly is one of these types.
The great thing for Nuggets fans is that Connelly’s talent will be on display immediately, starting with whom he chooses as head coach to replace George Karl and whom he selects with the 27th pick of the NBA Draft. Not long after that Connelly will be hit with the ominous task of persuading Andre Iguodala to re-sign with the Nuggets, while at the same time not overpaying him. The upcoming offseason will present many challenges for the rookie GM, but undoubtedly, no move would score more brownie points with Nuggets fans than finding another team to take on Andre Miller and the last year of his contract. That would be the definition of starting off on the right foot.