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Nuggets sound perturbed about how Timberwolves poached Tim Connelly

Tim Connelly and Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke

DENVER, CO. - JUNE 20: Denver Nuggets President Josh Kroenke names Tim Connelly Executive VP of Basketball Operations June 20, 2013 at Pepsi Center. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Denver Post via Getty Images

Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke said the Timberwolves’ offer that ultimately lured team president Tim Connelly “kind of came in through the side door, as they always seem to do in the NBA.”

That was just the beginning of Kroenke’s dissatisfaction.

Contrary to the impression given by initial reports, Connelly didn’t get an ownership stake in Minnesota. Instead, he gets bonuses if the Timberwolves’ valuation increases.

Matt Moore of Action Network:

The Nuggets can be bitter, but this is how the market works. They could have made a better offer than Minnesota did. They didn’t. So, Connelly left.

Denver wasn’t entitled to Connelly’s services. In fact, he had the ability to leave because the Nuggets chose to grant him flexibility in lieu of a higher salary when the Wizards tried to poach him a few years ago.

Mike Singer of The Denver Post:

After Washington made a run at Connelly in 2019, Nuggets ownership extended him a contract extension less than what the Wizards offered but with the ability to make up the difference in bonuses, according to Kroenke. Within that contract, there was an opt-out after three years.

“I put that in his contract never anticipating that he would opt out and go to another NBA team and that’s what happened,” Kroenke said.

Between losing Masai Ujiri to the Raptors in 2013 and losing Connelly to the Timberwolves now, Denver has shown an unwillingness to pay top dollar for executives. And that might be a reasonable business decision. Despite doomy predictions when Ujiri left, the Nuggets hired Connelly, who performed well. Perhaps, Calvin Booth – surely paid less than what it would’ve taken to keep Connelly – will continue the cycle.

But Denver ownership griping about Connelly leaving is unbecoming.