Speaking at his first press conference since the Minnesota Timberwolves hired Tim Connelly away from the Denver Nuggets, team president Josh Kroenke labeled the Timberwolves’ courtship of Connelly as “desperate.”
After nine seasons in Denver in the same role, Connelly was hired as the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations on May 23. His five-year, $40 million contract made him one of the highest-paid executives in the NBA and included a stake in the team’s ownership equity.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Kroenke told reporters that the Nuggets made a competitive offer to keep Connelly but the ownership equity helped persuade him to come to Minnesota.
“The term ‘equity’ was getting thrown around. I didn’t necessarily know what that meant,” Kroenke said. “That can mean a lot of different things in the world of business. But from the very start, he said, ‘Hey, if there’s some sort of equity upside, I really need to take a look at this for my family.’ And I said, ‘OK.’
According to Ryan Blackburn of Mile High Sportsthe equity was what kept the Nuggets from matching the offer despite Connelly’s claim that it wasn’t a true equity offer.
“Tim was under contract, the offer kind of came in through the side door, as they always seem to do in the NBA,” Kroenke said. “And so once those type of numbers start getting thrown around and get into someone’s head, it becomes very difficult to contain.
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“I felt that we made a very competitive offer that would have allowed him to feel good about staying in Denver, and ultimately he felt that some of the upside there on the back end through some of the bonus schemes were probably too good to pass up for his family.”
Related: 10 interesting comments from Tim Connelly’s first press conference
While the Nuggets may see the offer as desperate, it may have been what the Timberwolves needed to do to get Connelly to Minnesota.
The Timberwolves have had two playoff appearances since the 2003-04 season and even with Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns on the roster, it was probably going to take some serious selling points to get a big name to come to Minnesota.
Perhaps Kroenke is feeling the sting of another high-level executive leaving his franchise. Former POBO Masai Ujeri left Denver to take the same position with the Toronto Raptors in 2013 and went on to win the NBA championship in 2019.
Whatever the case, the Nuggets’ loss could be the Timberwolves’ gain, no matter how “desperate” the move seems.