The architect of one of the NBA’s most successful rebuilds, Tim Connelly, may be moving on to his next project. Candace Bucker of the Washington Post and Fred Katz of the Athletic are both reporting that Connelly is expected to meet with the owner of the Washington Wizards, Ted Leonsis, on Friday.
“Connelly, the top basketball executive of the Denver Nuggets who got his professional start with the Wizards, had previously told close associates that he did not want to interview for the job — for myriad reasons, but not out of disinterest in returning to Washington. Only a serious meeting would prompt Connelly to leave Chicago, where he was attending the NBA combine to evaluate and interview draft prospects, to discuss the job with Leonsis and Forde.”
Washington’s interest in Connelly is well documented, but there were no reports of an actual offer on the table. Buckner emphasized the seriousness of this meeting, opening the door for a reasonable assumption that the Wizards will do just that today. The Nuggets recently agreed to an extension with Connelly, but should Washington come over the top with an offer he can’t refuse; Josh Kroenke will either have to match or let him walk.
There is, of course, the wrinkle of Denver’s potential compensation, for which Katz provides some context in his piece for The Athletic.
The Wizards centered in on Tim Connelly as their top target weeks ago. Now, a meeting could come as soon as Friday, per sources. The Nuggets prez of bball operations will want a raise on his current salary.— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) May 17, 2019
Story with more details and reporting in here: https://t.co/UKRClMyG7z pic.twitter.com/vj3WWf6hDs
If the Wizards and Connelly were to agree to a deal, one complication could arise: draft-pick compensation. Teams gaining a front-office member or coach have historically compensated the ones losing talent with picks. The Wizards, however, have traded all of their own second-round selections through 2024. They own the [Chicago] Bulls’ 2023 second-rounder, but it is top-36 protected. They still have all of their first-round picks, but Washington, which would likely operate as an over-the-cap team this summer, will need those to add talent not just for next year but also for a potential rebuild. Besides, draft-pick compensation usually comes in the form of a second-rounder.”
Connelly has deep roots in Baltimore, and the possibility of returning home with a substantial raise in salary is the kind of offer that can lure him away from his unfinished business in Denver.
Buckner’s reporting explains that Connelly isn’t actively seeking a new job, and wasn’t keen on going through the typical process of an applicant. A meeting between these two parties strongly indicates that these negotiations are serious and the Wizards could be prepared to make their move.
EDITOR UPDATE: Wizards reportedly offer Tim Connelly four-year contract
According to Fred Katz, Shams Charania, and the rest of The Athletic based in the Washington D.C. area, the Wizards have extended an official offer to Connelly to serve as their President of Basketball Operations.
Katz and co. report that Wizards brass offered Tim Connelly a four year deal at the salary Connelly would be seeking in order to leave the Mile High City. It is standard to offer a five year deal in these circumstances for a coach or executive that a team clearly desires, so it’s surprising to see a four year deal reported.
Now comes the waiting game, in which Connelly will weigh his options before making a decision. It’s possible that Connelly still returns to the Nuggets organization, either having declined the Washington offer or demanding a raise on his contract with Denver, or he will accept the offer and asked to be released from his Denver contract. The process seems to be moving quite quickly, and it’s becoming increasingly likely that a decision will be made before the weekend is up.