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Pelicans fire Dell Demps - another fit for Denver’s Tim Connelly?

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The Nuggets are allowing a bidding war on their primary front office member - again

NBA: Denver Nuggets-Media Day Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans have fired their general manager Dell Demps just days after the trading deadline, per Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN:

It’s the longer tweet that should concern Nuggets fans. The New Orleans organization is looking for an internal candidate for the interim job but wants a “high-level basketball executive” who will be on the market this summer. Denver just happens to have one of those: Tim Connelly.

And Connelly has ties to New Orleans, having worked there under Dell Demps as their assistant GM from 2010-2013. He knows the organization and is familiar to Mickey Loomis, the hands-off president of the Pelicans who also fills the same role with the New Orleans Saints and by his own admission devotes most of his time and energy to the Saints. What the New Orleans leadership and ownership would seem to want is a General Manager who can also fulfill President of Basketball Operations functions and take care of the entire basketball sphere. Guess what Tim Connelly has been doing?

As a team with draft picks going through a rebuild there is no better basketball mind on the open market for what the Pelicans have to deal with than Tim Connelly. In many ways it is similar to the Toronto Raptors being the right fit for Masai Ujiri, who had worked for them before taking the GM job with Denver. The Raptors offered Masai more power, more control and more money than Denver, and as a basketball free agent he took it. The situation is aligning for Connelly to have a similar opportunity in New Orleans, although his would be another rebuild rather than the step into playoff contention that Ujiri took.

But if owner Josh Kroenke wants his President of Basketball Operations mantle back - the one that he ceded to Connelly in order to keep Arturas Karnisovas as GM when the Milwaukee Bucks were interviewing him for their open job - then Connelly may welcome a place that has no one to interfere with his decisions. Money doesn’t hurt either.

After the last time their GM got up and left because the Nuggets didn’t extend him while under contract, you would think the Nuggets might have learned their lesson. Now they will need to pay up to keep Connelly in town to continue to oversee the growth and development of this team.

The sight of Connelly going to rebuild the Pelicans - and potentially raiding Denver’s stash of young players to do it, as no one knows them better than he does - would be a tough sight to take. Josh Kroenke letting it happen again would be a black mark against him, even if he believed Connelly’s team-building work was better done through the draft than in consolidation trades. The way teams become dynasties is by getting the right handful of top players and then continually finding useful and cheap roleplayers. Connelly’s draft record in that regard is incredible, and especially for a mid-market team that is not a top-3 destination for any free agent it is incredibly valuable to be able to draft talented players who can grow to love Denver.

Here’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself with Denver front office personnel. The Nuggets losing to the Connelly-created Pelicans in the playoffs down the line with a chance to go to the NBA Finals would be peak Nugglife and no one needs to see that. Kroenke is going to have to pay handsomely to retain Connelly now - and with one of the world’s richest families behind him he should loosen the purse strings and do just that.

Poll

Should Josh Kroenke pay what it takes to retain Tim Connelly?

This poll is closed

  • 83%
    Yes - Tim has earned it and should oversee the next stage of development for this team
    (347 votes)
  • 2%
    No - Tim has done everything he can do for this team via the draft, now someone else needs to mold it into a champion
    (11 votes)
  • 13%
    I just want to know when Michael Porter Jr. is going to play
    (57 votes)
415 votes total Vote Now