Hope floats for Denver Nuggets following departure of Tim Connelly

Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly following the overtime win against the Chicago Bulls at Ball Arena on 19 Mar. 2021. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly following the overtime win against the Chicago Bulls at Ball Arena on 19 Mar. 2021. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports) /

The departure of Tim Connelly as president of basketball operations for the Denver Nuggets comes as a gut-wrenching blow to fans. After building up this team to a consistent playoff presence, it would’ve been nice to see how Connelly shapes this roster for a title push.

Now, the Nuggets will have to get it done without him. Connelly will sign a five-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that includes upwards of forty million dollars and ownership equity via Shams Charania, Jon Krawczynski, The Athletic.

Apparently, the Denver Nuggets made a bid to keep Connelly, one that would’ve moved him into the ranks of highest-paid executive in the league, but the ownership equity sealed the deal with the Wolves.

As Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN, reported:

"“Connelly had remained in regular contact on the process with [Stan] Kroenke and considered the Nuggets’ counter, but the historic nature of the Minnesota offer became too much to pass up, sources said.”"

Some Nuggets fans are irate with owner Stan Kroenke for not coming to the table and making sure Connelly never left Denver.

This will go down as a historic day in Denver because now the Nuggets can go one of two ways: they can let the foundation crumble as dragons storm the palace or they can continue their mission towards an NBA championship.

Cooler heads may think that a culture has been established in the Mile High with Connelly’s help, as well as the help of back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic.

The cast surrounding Jokic is still strong and competitive when healthy.

Jamal Murray is accurate from outside with his blue arrows, averaging a career-best 40.8 percent mark from 3-point range in 2020-21 before the knee blowout. Murray’s ability to spread the floor on the offensive end and keep defenses honest as a scoring threat was sorely missed in the games against the Golden State Warriors.

Michael Porter Jr. also adds significant bounce and lightning-in-a-bottle ability, giving Denver hope that things will be different when they run it back in 2022-23. MPJ and Jokic should continue to develop chemistry as Porter Jr. develops the freedom to grow into a 20-point-per-game scorer alongside Murray and conceivably Jokic if the reigning MVP keeps playing like this.

Tim Connelly was a big reason the Denver Nuggets were able to build a formidable roster and the Nuggets will need to regroup and find another leader like Connelly. Calvin Booth will reportedly step into the lead decision-making role according to Charania, The Athletic:

"“Denver Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth is now expected to assume lead basketball operations role for the franchise. There is significant belief in Booth inside the organization, and the former NBA veteran is well-respected as a rising executive across league.”"

While Booth has been a part of this front office for a few years now, we simply don’t know what to expect from a first-time lead executive.

As Ben Stuter, Dunking With Wolves writes about the news:

"“The message with this hiring is loud and clear. The Timberwolves are deadly serious about becoming an NBA superpower. They set their sights on hiring one of the NBA’s top executives, and this news indicates that they have accomplished their objective.”"

The Denver Nuggets should similarly be deadly serious about becoming a superpower, but other teams might be more serious.

Tim Connelly was creative, with a knack for finding unique talent deep in the draft. Booth might be able to do the same, but we knew Connelly could do this and with his departure, hope might be floating away from a Nuggets team that is so close to getting over the top.

Next. What does Will Barton's future with the Nuggets look like?. dark