The T-Wolves took a major step forward this season, finally breaking back into the postseason. With the team back on the right track, they pounced at the opportunity to make one of the biggest front-office moves of the offseason.
Tim Connelly could bring lasting change to Minnesota Timberwolves
Rumors about recruiting Tim Connelly to Minnesota were rampant for some time, but the scuttlebutt turned into something much more real. Sources told ESPN that Connelly was scheduled to meet with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor over the weekend.
At first blush, this sounded curious. Why would the Timberwolves poach a personnel man after their best season in ages? But the franchise didn’t necessarily have a clear path toward improvement from this point, so they decided to snag a strong talent evaluator to lead the way.
Besides, it’s been so long that it may be hard to remember that the Timberwolves still didn’t have a permanent general manager after canning Gersson Rosas before the season. Sachin Gupta has been acting on an interim basis.
There will be no questions about the direction of the franchise with Connelly at the helm. This is the man who plucked an unknown big man out of Serbia in the second round of the NBA Draft and watched him develop into two-time MVP Nikola Jokic.
Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. were also strong draft picks, only betrayed to this point by their bodies (Porter’s back issues predate his NBA tenure, so some criticism towards Connelly would be fair there).
Minnesota does have a solid young core in place. Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards are definitively foundational pieces. If D’Angelo Russell sticks around, he could be part of the core, too.
Connelly has a consistent history of prioritizing in-house talent in Denver, looking to keep promising players for as long as possible. Jokic seems eager to sign a long-term extension with the Nuggets, the best sign of Connelly’s strong relationship with talent.
The 36-year-old GM does have a connection to the current man in charge of the players on the court in Minnesota. Chris Finch was the associate head coach in Denver for the 2016-17 season. Another point of familiarity? Connelly was responsible for drafting two current Timberwolves: Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt.
In the end, the deciding factor seemed to be money. Connelly’s five-year, $40 million deal makes him one of the highest-paid executives in the business. The Nuggets have been down this road before with Masai Ujiri, and it’s clear now that they’re probably not willing to shell out to keep their top personnel around.
Tim Connelly is one of the most well-respected front office executives in the league, and his track record speaks for itself. If the Minnesota Timberwolves manage to poach him from a divisional rival, it’s further proof that the Timberwolves are done being the also-rans of the sport.