Josh Kroenke Rumors

The Nuggets have elected to reunite new executive Pete D’Alessandro (late of the Kings) with Michael Malone (late of the Kings). There had been credible reports D’Alessandro (until last week the Kings’ GM) and Malone (until December the Kings’ coach) had a bad relationship and didn’t speak for months. But reports also suggested that Vivek Ranadive — not Pete D. — made the call to can Malone. (It was a bad call.) These are both true. So why are the Nuggets hiring Malone? To me, that says that D’Alessandro is absolutely not calling the basketball shots here. The Nuggets insisted he worked for franchisee Josh Kroenke advising on both pro franchises he runs.
“As KSE has evolved as a company, my role and duties within the company have evolved as well,” stated Kroenke. “Pete’s addition to our Operations team is a natural product of that evolution and his experiences over his professional career have put him in a unique position to assist me in multiple areas ranging from league operations to team budgeting. I look forward to his assistance in creating additional synergy between our Business and Team Operations to help take our organization to another level on and off the playing floor. All Basketball Operations remain the same and all Player Personnel inquiries should continue to be directed to Tim Connelly.”
Kroenke stopped short of saying there would be an extreme roster makeover this summer, but did acknowledge the team is a ways away from being what he wants it to be. “There’s a period of transition that’s coming up, and we’re going to be aggressive…as an organization,” Kroenke said. “And continue to be aggressive until we feel we have the roster that truly can compete for something special.”
“We never tried to get away from playing fast,” Kroenke said. “We just weren’t playing very efficient. I think that was painfully obvious to anyone who watched. When I talk about the organizational fabric, the situations had gotten to a point where our fans… our fans deserve the best. They’ve been subject to a lot of things over the years — a couple of different styles of play, different players — we made it through the Carmelo (Anthony) saga. Now, we’re at a point where we really want to build a team that they are going to be proud of going forward, that can truly try to compete for something.”
While every young sports executive makes missteps, what concerns me about Kroenke isn’t his intelligence or his diligence. It’s the fact as a junior partner in his father’s worldwide sports empire that young Kroenke’s name has been plastered high in the organization chart of pro basketball, hockey and soccer franchises. That’s a lot of balls, not to mention a bucket of pucks, to juggle. So I asked: As a sports executive, are you spread too thin? “Oh, man. That’s a tough question,” said Kroenke, pondering all that’s expected from a curator of pro teams in a sports-crazy town. Then, he added: “I’m not spread too thin.”
The Nuggets finished the season with Melvin Hunt as their interim head coach. He’s in the mix for the job along with others such as Mike D’Antoni and Alvin Gentry. The Nuggets have talked to other candidates as well. “We have a list of traits that we have identified that are incredibly important to us going forward,” Kroenke said. “And we’ve had several conversations with people already to kind of identify if those guys have the traits that we’re looking for.”
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said the team is progressing well in its search for a new head coach. “We’ve had several conversations with a lot of people,” Kroenke said in an interview with The Denver Post on Thursday. “I think that it benefits us to talk to as many people as we can. We have some people in the back of our mind that we think would be great fits. I’ve talked to enough people, and going through the process before, your coaching hire is probably going to be your hardest hire because there’s so much that goes into that role in today’s sporting industry.”
“Brian will be fine,’’ Fisher said. “He’s as tough as they come mentally and physically. I’m sure he’s disappointed in the decision. … I think he’ll be fine and find a landing spot. He’s tough and smart enough to find his way wherever he wants to be.” Jackson withdrew himself from pursuing Shaw during the offseason when Denver president Josh Kroenke released a statement saying his coach was going nowhere. “[Kroenke] made a statement they’re not willing to let Brian Shaw go — I respect that,” Jackson said at the time. “It’s intrusive to approach another organization to ask for their coach. I would feel badly for someone to ask to speak to my coach.”
Brian Shaw is the easy fall guy. The coach is forever the lowest-hanging fruit. Shaw deserves a share of the blame for the franchise’s historic collapse into dysfunction, but he is merely a deckhand on a ship gushing water over the bow. Why is Kroenke, who lit the match on this dumpster fire, treated with kid gloves around here? Because he fist bumps the right knuckles and texts the right people? He’s president and governor of the franchise. He’s the guy who fires and hires and green lights transactions, whether it’s canning George Karl or signing Nate Robinson.
The Kroenke family has shown an ability to rebuild a basketball team, be it starting over with Carmelo Anthony in 2003 or adding Chauncey Billups in 2008 to go to the next level. They’re not naive to the current state of the team. Later on Monday night, team president Josh Kroenke said by phone, “while no one is happy with the status quo, we’re watching it like hawks and have a good idea of what we think the issues are with our team and how to address them. Tim and the rest of our staff are working their tails off. And I know exactly what they think and where everything stands with our coaches and players. From my chair, it’s just a matter of time when to make decisions (on possible moves). A good portion of deals is timing, and unfortunately our time frame has been drawn out due to different circumstances, mostly injuries. But I must say it again, our current state is not acceptable and our fans deserve better.”
Denver isn’t going to allow Brian Shaw to come to New York in case Phil Jackson can’t land Derek Fisher, even if the Knicks offer compensation. “We didn’t hire Brian for a one-year position with our team,’’ the Nuggets’ team president, Josh Kroenke, told me. “We see Brian being with us for years to come.’’ If Fisher turns Jackson down, it’ll be on to Kurt Rambis, another member of the Zen Master’s small circle of basketball friends.
Tom Penn, a former NBA executive and now an ESPN analyst, sees a team with the ability to make moves. “They’ve just made contractual commitments to a number of players and they are sort of capped out for the near future,” Penn said of the Nuggets. “So you either really like what you’ve got and just hold and wait for everybody to get healthy, or you look to get different. And they have a number of pieces they can move in order to get different.” He mentioned 24-year-old forward Kenneth Faried as someone who might draw interest. “I would think there would be a ton of interest in him as young as he is and as impactful as he’s been,” Penn said. “The fact that McGee is hurt really hurts them, I think, because he would be somebody who would be intriguing on the market. (Team president) Josh Kroenke has done a nice job of adding players at good numbers, which always means they are tradeable. It means they are an asset instead of a log on your (salary) cap. So they have the flexibility to get different. The trick is how to get better.”
Everything gets harder now; everything more complicated. “I’ve been around pro sports since an early age, with the NFL, the NBA, soccer,” he says, “and I’ve picked up things. But I’ve also found my own path. There’s always a fear of failure in this family. I don’t want to feel out of place in it. I want to go prove things to myself. “I think that I can figure out people pretty quickly, that I’ve developed a good sense of reading them,” he says. “From a young age, I’ve had people coming to me asking me for stuff; people always want something.”
The NBA has changed, the dynamic between front offices and coaches forever more tuned together. If Karl’s generation represented an old-school division of power, Kroenke has nudged the Nuggets toward a more modern league reality. “We never want to tell the coach what he has to do: He has to decide the best combinations on the floor, who to play, what to run,” he says. “But the best organizations in the NBA have that camaraderie, that cohesion, between the front offices and the coaching staffs. There’s so much information available now, and this makes the most sense. It’s a good dynamic to have, and you can feel everybody is on the same page here.”
Across a series of hirings and firings, trades and draft picks, he has withstood the scrutiny. He let go of an NBA Executive of the Year, Mark Warkentien, and hired Masai Ujiri, an anonymous, young executive. Together, Ujiri and Kroenke delivered the NBA a blueprint on bringing back value in a trade for a superstar player. They dictated terms on the Carmelo Anthony market, earning the respect of the league, and ultimately an Executive of the Year award for Ujiri – right before he accepted a $3 million a year job to run the Toronto Raptors. “We weren’t going to get taken advantage of unless we chose to get taken advantage of,” Kroenke says. “With ‘Melo, we had the asset everyone wanted.”
“I can’t express my appreciation enough,” Shaw told The Denver Post by phone Monday evening. “It’s been a grind to say the least, but I’m just very appreciative of the opportunity to lead this team. … It’s been years, 11-12 interviews I’ve gone through. And I’ve felt I’ve been prepared by the best of the best. You know, everything that’s worth something, a lot of times you have to wait for it. I feel like I’ve waited and paid my dues. I feel honored and privileged that (Nuggets executives) Josh (Kroenke) and Tim (Connelly) have put faith in me that I’m the guy they want to grow with going forward.”
Nuggets CEO Josh Kroenke made a bid for Rivers approximately 10 days ago, informing general manager Danny Ainge of his willingness to part with a pick if the Nuggets were able to procure Rivers. Nevertheless, Boston wasn’t prepared to start the process of letting Rivers leave and discussions never went beyond one brief conversation between Kroenke and Ainge, league sources said.