According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Washington Wizards have been granted permission to discuss their open president of basketball operations role with Tim Connelly, who holds the same title with the Denver Nuggets. Connelly could meet with the Wizards as soon as Friday according to Wojnarowski.
That means that the Kroenke family decided to allow Connelly to discuss what could be perceived as his dream job with Washington despite Connelly signing a contract extension in February.
While Denver’s willingness to let Connelly interview for the open position with the Wizards may be scrutinized, it is the right decision by the Kroenke family. Connelly has unequivocally earned the right to choose where he works if the opportunity exists. He has been the architect of arguably the most successful franchise rebuild in decades and has put together the most talented young core in the NBA in Denver. For more thoughts on why the Kroenke’s allowed Connelly to interview, you can read about it here.
According to multiple reports — including this report by Fred Katz of The Athletic — becoming the president of basketball operations of the Wizards is the only job that could lure him away from a Nuggets franchise that just lost Game 7 in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs to the Portland Trail Blazers despite having the eighth-youngest roster in playoff history.
For Connelly, who is from Maryland, taking the Wizards job means he is less than an hour from his hometown. Additionally, his wife is from the Washington D.C. area. Connelly still has family near Baltimore and, as a cherry on top for the Wizards — who are trying to hire him away — Connelly started his career as an assistant video coordinator back in 1996 with Washington. With the added bonus of a pay raise in addition to everything else, how could someone say no to such an offer?
Still, the fact that Connelly will meet with the Wizards does not mean that he has already booked his flight back to Washington.
According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, the only way that the Wizards are going to lure Connelly away from Denver is with a massive offer. Mannix noted that Connelly loves the Nuggets organization and he has a fantastic relationship with Josh Kroenke; which are both facts. Unless Connelly is handed an extremely large check and the keys to the Washington organization, there is really no reason for him to leave the Nuggets. Although, if those pre-qualifications are met, it is going to be very tough for Connelly to turn down the Wizards. For more information on why running the basketball operations for Washington is a dream job for Connelly, read about it here.
Another reason that the Nuggets ownership is allowing Connelly to meet with the Wizards is because, according to Wojnarowski, they are confident that Arturas Karnisovas, currently Denver’s general manager, can assume full leadership responsibilities. Karnisovas has been in the running for multiple leadership roles over the past few years and is perceived as ready to take the next step and fully run a team himself.
That means that the Nuggets feel that they have the right personal already in place if Connelly leaves. Karnisovas is well-respected around the league and Denver also has up-and-coming executive Calvin Booth currently employed as their assistant general manager as well. It is conceivable that Denver could allow Connelly to leave and continue operating with the same staff in place.
Still, the gap left by Connelly possibly leaving would be large. Connelly and Karnisovas are extremely different people with even more unique personalities. Their strength came in working together by using their differences to make up for each others short-comings. If that equation is suddenly altered, there is no telling what kind of repercussions may reverberate through the organization if they lose Connelly. For more information on what changes Denver could expect without Connelly in the fold, read more about it here.
Losing Connelly could be disastrous for Denver, but he has earned the right to accept life-changing money to go run the team that originally gave him his start in the NBA just down the road from where he grew up. No matter what else happens, that much is true.