Denver Nuggets president Josh Kroenke introduced his new Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations aka the general manager today at Pepsi Center. Media members speculated on just how long this press conference might last, turns out Tim Connelly got to his points quick - like the Nuggets offense?
Now, let's read through the tea leaves, if we can, on what Connelly said today.
Tim Connelly: First of all, I want to thank Josh and the entire Kroenke family for this opportunity. I want to thank my dear friend Masai Ujiri, who left the house in such good order. It's big shoes to fill. I think often times, in situations like this, the theme of the day is change. Today, I want to talk about growth. There's a culture that already ingrained here, a winning culture. It's a heck of a team that I'm inheriting - 57 wins. It's chock full of talent. It's a very supportive ownership and it's a great city.
What can we get from this statement? It came as a surprise to me that Connelly is very close with Ujiri. That should ease some minds right there. I don't think Masai would be hanging out with just anybody ... (sarcasm font). In all seriousness, to me this shows that Tim is indeed a world traveler. He probably crossed paths with Masai on many scouting trips and built a relationship from there. Connelly has been talked about as a tireless worker (from his former boss in New Orleans Dell Demps) and this bodes well for the Nuggets.
If you got the chance to listen to Masai and Pete D'Alessandro's press conferences with the Raptors and Kings, respectively, then you know what Tim meany by "in situations like this, the theme of the day is change". Both Masai and Pete have moved on to difficult situations where a lot of moves need to be made.
Connelly is inheriting a tremendous roster that is "chock full of talent". Yes, it will be difficult to get the Nuggets to an elite level, but the tear down part of the job is not something that Connelly is faced with.
Connelly: I've been lucky to work with, for, and against some of the brightest basketball minds in this league. Through those unique experiences, I've done pretty much everything. From delivering the mail to making trades and everything in between.
What we can get from this statement? This is a pretty cool story. If you want to work in the NBA and perhaps be a GM someday - you can do so and Connelly is proof. I know a lot of our younger readers have big dreams - so I think it's key to show you that through hard work, you could have your own presser some day as well. Follow your dreams.
Connelly: After this press conference I'm looking forward to getting back to work, establishing a staff, it's an on-going process -- the two guys we've talked to are tremendous -- after this I look forward to going to Josh's office and kind of seeing where we are in that process.
What can we get from this statement? Tim was asked about the head coaching search and he didn't bring up Brian Shaw or Lionel Hollins by name, but he did indicate that he did speak with them. Connelly also wouldn't pinpoint on when a head coach should be hired and that the team could interview more candidates.
Connelly: What I really want to focus on is a culture of continuity and the ability to work with someone. I think it's increasingly difficult to reach the heights we're hoping to reach if you don't have a good working relationship. In terms of style of play? We're a fast-paced team. This is Denver, we're going to play in the hundreds. But I would never try to impose any strategic restraints on a coach. I'm looking for a good guy, who is excited to have the job, and build off of where we are presently.
What can we get from this statement? So, we'll have more run-and-gun? It doesn't sound like Connelly is interested in a slow-it-down game, but again he's not coaching and said he won't interfere with that aspect of the game, so we still won't really know until the Nuggets hit the court in late October or early November.
Connelly: I see I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I see a roster from afar that we really thought highly of in New Orleans. When you're in a different room sometimes you're most objective and most truthful. In the course of our discussions, I told Josh, it's rare you get jobs like this, with a roster with this much talent. I'm familiar with all the guys, I know quite a few of them pretty well. I mean, this is a 57-win team. The foundation is there. I think we have to build off that firm foundation, see some internal growth in some of our own players, be opportunistic with trades and free agent signings, and maximize our draft pick. The cupboard is full, it's an excellent roster.
What can we get from this statement? Like any good GM, Connelly is going to listen to offers and be active in all fronts of the NBA transaction game.
Connelly: JaVale was the first player to text me when the news became official. I'm a big JaVale McGee fan. I was active in that draft selection, I think he has a world of potential, he's a young player -- young bigs in particular probably demand a bit more patience, they develop at a slower pace, and I've told JaVale -- I've been pretty direct with JaVale -- I think our ability to grow off of where we are is largely dependent on his growth. The bar is very high with JaVale and I expect a lot from him. If what I expect can come to fruition, which I'm hopeful that's the case, he's one of the players on our present roster that will allow us to make that jump.
What can we get from this statement? Masai believed in JaVale and handed him the big contract. Connelly is also a believer in JaVale and it sounds like he won't be going anywhere and is a big part of this team moving forward.
For me, JaVale needs people that believe in him and that can encourage his growth as a player. The talent is there and yes, JaVale needs people around him to kick him in the butt from time-to-time, but he comes across as a player that will benefit from having people around him that believe in his abilities.
Connelly: The last guy we spoke to prior to this press room was Andre [Iguodala], he's such a pro he's in [the practice gym] working out. He's priority number one.
What we can get from this statement? Iguodala is here in Denver working out with the likes of Ty Lawson, Kosta Koufos, and Quincy Miller. I saw Lawson, Kosta, and Q yesterday in the gym working out and players have been filtering in-and-out all summer. It's good to know that the new GM and Josh have had the opportunity to bend Andre's ear and we'll see what happens July 1st (when free agency begins) and beyond.
If the Nuggets really do believe that they are close to being a contending team, they will go hard after Iguodala to re-sign here, and all indications are that they want him back.
Connelly: I think I'm a scout first and foremost. Over the 17 years I've been in the NBA, I've spent way too much time on the road watching games. I'm familliar with these guys. I'm familiar with how they fit within the roster and picking the brains of the staff that's here - that's what I need to get caught up to speed with. I'm confident with the lay of the land with the draft. I'm confident that next Thursday we'll make the right selection or be creative with the pick. I know the players, I feel good about that.
What we can get from this statement? Let's hope Bratz and Tolzman left some notes on what they had! Herb Livsey is the last scout left, Josh has been at the workouts, and the assistant coaches (Josh Welch, Chad Iske, and Melvin Hunt) have all been around too. Connelly has been working on this draft too, with the Pelicans, so he is not behind on anything.
Connelly: I'm a big believer of working with, not working for and that's up-and-down. I think we had a lot of success in New Orleans with that mindset. So, I can't wait to work with Josh, work with our head coach, and work with our staff. I think it's a collective decision making process and I think whatever decision we make -- it's a mistake business -- we want to make informed mistakes. We want to make confident decisions and when the door opens, however we reach that point, it's a Denver Nuggets decision. It will be a collective decision making process, I'm excited.
What can we get form this statement? I simply do not understand the people who are making the argument that Josh wants to make all the decisions and that he may not listen to anyone. As it was with Ujiri, this will be a collective effort and the influence of decisions with be group influences.
I'm am not afraid that Josh will throw out all the advice, knowledge, and direction that Connelly and others want to take this franchise. We are in good hands Nuggets Nation.
Change can be scary, but change is not bad. Do not fear the direction this team is going. Embrace it.
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