Tim Connelly’s Worth the Money. Will the Washington Wizards Give it to Him?

Washington Wizards Tim Connelly (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Tim Connelly (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /

The rumored front-runner for the open front office position with the Washington Wizards is finally meeting with the team. Whatever it takes, the Wizards need to get Tim Connelly back to DC.

It’s been a month and a half since the Washington Wizards relieved long-time GM and president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld after 16 seasons. The Wizards still have not found his replacement.

But they might be getting closer. According to various sources including Candace Buckner of the Washington Post, Fred Katz of the Athletic, and Ben Standig of NBCSports Washington, the Wizards will meet with the one man that’s rumored to be at the top of their list: Tim Connelly.

A Pricey New President

Connelly is currently serving as the Denver Nuggets’ president of basketball operations, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be coming to DC. Although, his current employer could complicate things a bit.

Connelly, though, considers the Wizards’ front office position a “dream job”. It’d be a return home to where it all began for him in the NBA as a Wizards intern back in 1996.

But he’s got a great thing going in Denver. They were one game away from facing the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. And they probably would’ve matched up better than the Portland Trailblazers are right now. Why leave when what he’s built is on the brink of success? If the Wizards want him to abandon the young, rising powerhouse he’s built out West, they’ll need to offer him a lot, according to Buckner.

"Connelly, 41, remains under contract with the Nuggets, who were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by Portland. Although Washington’s is the only job that would tempt him to leave Denver — a fact known by team president Josh Kroenke — a person close to Connelly speculated he would not leave for a deal lower than $4 million annually for five years."

Whatever the price ends up being, the Wizards should be ready to pay up. The chance to secure a front office candidate like Connelly doesn’t come around often. This franchise should know (better than most) just how vital it is to have the right people calling the shots. If they truly think Connelly’s the guy, don’t let him get away because of the price tag.

In Denver, Connelly adopted a team in the midst of a rebuild when he arrived as vice president of basketball operations. Since being promoted to president of basketball operations in June of 2017, the Nuggets have improved their win total each season, going from 40 wins in 2016-17, to 46 in and then 52. In just his second season as the team’s president of basketball operations, the Nuggets reached game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, their deepest playoff run in 10 years.

It’s also worth noting exactly what position Connelly and the Wizards are reportedly discussing: president of basketball operations. This means that Connelly presumably wouldn’t be adopting the GM responsibilities that were once Grunfeld’s. Instead, those would fall to say, current interim GM Tommy Sheppard. Such a setup would mirror what Connelly had in Denver, with Artūras Karnišovas acting as the team’s general manager and Connelly as president of basketball operations.

If it worked in Denver, why not try it here, too? Especially if Sheppard, a friend of Connelly’s who many in the NBA consider a top-tier front office candidate in his own right, can play the Karnišovas role.

Connelly represents the exact type of candidate Leonsis described wanting to bring in to replace Grunfeld: a proven winner who understands and embraces the modern NBA. The Wizards have a great opportunity to bring him in and retain Tommy Sheppard in a vital role. If Leonsis and the Wizards are serious about the future of this franchise, they should be prepared to empty their wallets for Connelly.

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Despite this being Connelly’s “dream job”, it was first reported that he’d prefer not to interview and instead simply be offered the job. The fact that the two sides are in discussions at all makes it feel serious. They’ve gotten this far. It’s time to close the deal.