NUGGETS

With Tim Connelly gone to Minnesota, what’s next for the Nuggets?

May 23, 2022, 2:15 PM

It was the news that Nuggets Nation didn’t want to hear, but it became a reality on Monday afternoon. Tim Connelly, the team’s president of basketball operations, is leaving Denver for the same position in Minnesota.

This is a blow to the franchise, as they try to put the finishing touches on a roster that has a championship-caliber foundation. Just when it seemed like everything was going to finally come together, with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. slated to return from injury at the start of next season, the architect who build the team won’t be around to see the project through to completion.

How will the Nuggets go about replacing Connelly? That answer came quickly on Monday.

In a lot of ways, this move makes sense. Booth has been with the Nuggets since 2017, when he joined the team as the assistant general manager to Connelly. He was promoted to general manager in 2020, when Connelly was elevated to his role as president of basketball operations.

Transitioning to Booth offers continuity. He’s been around for most of the building process, so he’s in the know when it comes to the team’s plans, needs and next steps. He’s the logical option for keeping the train on the tracks.

Booth’s first order of business will be re-upping Nikola Jokic. The back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player is eligible for a supermax contract extension, which is expected to be worth $254 million over five years.

After the season, Jokic was open to inking the deal. He was bullish on the Nuggets

“I would like it, of course,” Jokic said. “If (the) offer is on the table, of course I’m going to accept it.”

It’s not just the money that was attractive to the MVP, however.

“I really like the organization; I really like the people who works here,” Jokic said. “I’m in a really good relationship with everybody from (the) owner to equipment manager.”

One of the people on that list was Connelly, the person who drafted Jokic with the No. 41 overall pick in 2014. Now, the question remains whether Booth can convince the MVP the departure of the team’s president of basketball operations won’t change anything in Denver.

It certainly won’t be easy. Nuggets players have already weighed in on the news, unhappy with Connelly’s departure.

Michael Malone called the upcoming offseason the “most important” of his tenure in Denver. The Nuggets head coach emphasized that the team needed to make some moves in order to take advantage of the window created by Jokic being in his prime.

That means deciding what to do with Will Barton, who is heading into the last year of his contract. It means making a decision on DeMarcus Cousins. It means finding more perimeter defenders, as Malone wants. It means finding better outside shooters, as was needed in the postseason. It means finding the glue that holds the big pieces of the puzzle together.

That was supposed to be Tim Connelly’s job. Now, it’s Calvin Booth’s.

The general manager inherits a nice foundation, but he has plenty of work to do. It’s going to be an interesting offseason.

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