Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly has agreed to a five-year deal worth over $40 million that includes ownership equity to oversee the Minnesota Timberwolves’ basketball operations, sources told ESPN on Monday.
The deal makes Connelly one of the NBA’s highest-compensated executives and transforms a Timberwolves franchise that has struggled to find stability in its leadership structure.
Connelly has discussed the job extensively with Timberwolves minority owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez in the past week and met with majority owner Glen Taylor on Saturday in Minnesota, and his representative, Andy Miller of Klutch Sports, finalized terms on the massive deal Monday, sources said.
Nuggets governor Josh Kroenke made a bid to keep Connelly, sources said, but an offer that would have made Connelly one of the higher-paid league executives was still dwarfed by the Timberwolves’ massive offer, sources said. Only a handful of top league executives have ownership equity as a part of their deals.
Connelly has long professed his affinity and devotion to the Western Conference contender and organization that he has built with the Nuggets, but he becomes the second consecutive top basketball executive to leave Denver for a significantly more lucrative offer elsewhere. Connelly in 2013 replaced Masai Ujiri, who left Denver for the Toronto Raptors.
Denver is expected to continue with general manager Calvin Booth leading the organization, sources said.
Connelly has built a reputation as one of the league’s best talent evaluators and deal-makers, maintaining strong relationships with top players agents and the respect of his front-office peers. Connelly has a strong relationship with two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, whom he drafted with the 41st overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft. Jokic is eligible for a contract extension this summer.
Lore — who is poised to take over majority ownership in 2023 from Taylor — had recruited Connelly and made a case for their partnership together.
Connelly had remained in regular contact on the process with Kroenke and considered the Nuggets’ counter, but the historic nature of the Minnesota offer became too much to pass up, sources said.
Minnesota has an interim GM, Sachin Gupta, in place after the preseason dismissal of Gersson Rosas.
Connelly turned down an opportunity to become the Washington Wizards’ top basketball executive three years ago, choosing to remain with the Nuggets. He grew up in Baltimore and spent the first several years of his front-office career with Washington.
Connelly has spent nine years building the Nuggets into a Western Conference contender, although injuries short-circuited the franchise in the past two years after a run to the conference finals in 2020.
The Timberwolves reached the Western Conference playoffs this season, losing to Memphis in a six-game opening-round series. Minnesota has a young core of talent — including No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards and All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns — that could make the franchise formidable for years to come.