In just over 12 months as President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tim Connelly has completely reshaped the team’s roster and has set the franchise on a clearly defined future route, for better or for worse. Orchestrating the Rudy Gobert trade last summer has been the biggest move that has defined his legacy in Minnesota thus far.
Connelly has made it obvious over the last year that he is not an executive comfortable with standing pat. He is constantly looking to go on the offensive and find ways to enhance the team’s roster whenever an opportunity presents itself. Whether his moves have been the smartest is up for debate, but his confidence and decisiveness are not.
Prior to joining the Timberwolves organization, Connelly held the same title of President with the Denver Nuggets. Recently, it was revealed that his ambition led him to nearly make a move that could have derailed an organization that is now on its way to their first ever NBA Finals.
Tim Connelly nearly made a costly mistake with the Nuggets.
Last week, Sam Amick of The Athletic revealed details of the Denver Nuggets’ multi-year process of getting to the biggest stage in basketball, and how their patience has been a big part in them achieving this goal (subscription required).
In Amick’s article, details of a past conversation between Denver Head Coach Mike Malone and then-Nuggets President Tim Connelly were extremely telling. Malone explains that Connelly called him proposing a trade that would have allegedly shipped Jamal Murray out and brought in ‘a marquee player.’ Now, in May 2023, Murray has been one of the chief reasons the franchise is in a position to capture a championship.
The Minnesota Timberwolves must adopt the Nuggets’ methodical style.
Malone reportedly pushed back on Connelly’s idea because he believed that they could find success in building organically, and that “a bigger name is not always better.” His words have certainly held up, with the Nuggets now being just four wins away from an NBA title and their two biggest stars being developed internally.
This serves as yet another example of Connelly’s progressive mindset as an executive. He was willing to make a quick fix for Denver that may or may not have worked out long term. It was Malone’s trust in his players and belief in the team’s process that ultimately saved them from making a potentially roster-crippling move.
The Minnesota Timberwolves would be wise to consider this story as they look to build a championship contender themselves. What happened with the Gobert trade is in the past, but adopting a precise, methodical mindset in future dealings could pay off big time.
A blockbuster trade for a star player could sometimes be the right move that puts a team over the top. But with someone as dynamic as Tim Connelly at the helm, it will be important to think twice on such matters.