Michael Singer: The phrase I'd heard from two different…

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Ryan Blackburn: There's a lot to unpack with the Tim Connelly report, and as surprising as it is, there have been some signs. Notably, Calvin Booth, Denver' current general manager (under Connelly at POBO) spoke to media at Denver's post-season press conference a couple weeks ago.
The Timberwolves are in serious talks with Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly about the franchise’s vacant President of Basketball Operations role, sources tell The Athletic. The Timberwolves recently requested permission from the Nuggets to speak with Connelly, and the sides have moved beyond exploratory conversations, sources said. There have been no agreements reached yet, and nothing appears imminent, sources said.
Connelly has emerged as a serious target for the Timberwolves and marks the first known external candidate for the organization’s lead basketball department position. Sachin Gupta, the Timberwolves’ executive vice president, remains a significant part of the organization’s long-term vision and is a candidate to continue overseeing basketball operations, sources said.
Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor said Gupta would be evaluated after the season to determine if they would go forward with him or look elsewhere. The Wolves have not ruled out the possibility that Gupta will remain in charge, sources said. But the talks with Connelly represent a real consideration of hiring someone above Gupta.

Donatas Urbonas: The Denver Nuggets have promoted Tomas Balcetis to Assistant General Manager, sources confirmed. Balcetis, 34, joined the Nuggets in 2013.
Mike Singer: League source confirmed this is the plan with Booth, however, due to the hiatus, it’s unclear when the organization will make an official announcement.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Bulls will start calling for permission on hiring the GM to work with Karnisovas and those interviews will start in short order, per sources. Booth is a serious candidate for promotion to replace Karnisovas as GM in Denver.
In the wake of Karnisovas’ departure, part of the delay in announcing it is because there remains the possibility that some of Denver’s staffers could go with him to Chicago, a league source says. There’s not a uniform approach across the entire NBA, but the Nuggets believe heavily in allowing executives to further their careers if it means a significant upgrade in role or title.
In following the team’s organizational ethos, Nuggets assistant GM Calvin Booth may well be the likely successor. The 10-year NBA veteran was a finalist to run the Minnesota Timberwolves’ basketball operations department last April, and similar to Karnisovas’ rise, a promotion for Booth in Denver would be the next logical step.
KC Johnson: Confirming that Bulls are negotiating a deal to make Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas their next head of basketball operations, per source. 1st with news was @wojespn. As previously reported, this hire will work to build out organizational infrastructure, including a GM.
Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas has made a strong impression on the Chicago Bulls and emerged as a focus of the franchise's process to hire a new executive vice president of basketball operations, sources told ESPN. Conversations with Karnisovas and Bulls officials are continuing Wednesday, sources said.
KC Johnson: Bulls have interviewed Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas for lead executive position, per sources. As previously reported, Bulls hope to have process finalized sooner than later.
Michael Singer: Had good chat w/ Sue Bird at last night’s #Nuggets home opener. She won’t be with the team this year as she tours with USA Basketball ahead of next year’s Olympics. She said last year’s experience in front office was fantastic and she’d love to work with them in the future.
“Definitely we’re banking on our continuity,” Denver’s GM Arturas Karnisovas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on “The Woj Pod” released Sunday. “A lot of teams that made changes and added huge pieces and stars, they’re still dealing in hypotheticals. We’ve watched this group show us last year, take us to a 54-28 season, having the best home record, 34-7, so this group is done and they’re still the third youngest group in the league.”
NBA.com’s John Schuhmann compiled data on every team’s “continuity ranking” and the Nuggets finished No. 1. They’ll have 12 players returning from their roster last season, the most of any team in the league. Expect to hear the continuity refrain a lot this season. Other highlights from Karnisovas’ conversation with Woj: The Nuggets watched extensive film of Marc Gasol before drafting Nikola Jokic. They tried projecting whether Jokic’s athleticism would hinder his ability to play in the NBA.
Josh Kroenke on why the Nuggets allowed Connelly to interview with the Wizards: That’s part of Tim and my relationship. To say you trust someone is one thing, but to actually trust someone is a different thing. Tim and I had private conversations as part of our contract-extension talks several months ago. Just because Tim was signing a contract extension with us didn’t mean his thoughts from his childhood and different thoughts from earlier in his career would simply go away.
Connelly decided to finish what he started in Denver: a team with one of the youngest rosters in the league and the second-best record in the Western Conference and an all-star in Nikola Jokic. Connelly also wished to continue his working relationship with Nuggets team president and governor Josh Kroenke, with whom he was in “constant communication” via text message and phone calls all weekend, according to a person familiar with Denver’s side.
While they have yet to formally agree to a new contract, Kroenke told Connelly that he was “willing to do what it takes to keep you,” said a person with details of the communication. If Connelly had left, the Nuggets were planning to turn over the franchise to General Manager Artūras Karnišovas and felt confident doing so, but they are “thrilled” and “breathing a sigh of relief” that it didn’t come to that, according to a person who shared details of Denver’s thinking.
Tim Connelly will not take over as the Washington Wizards’ president of basketball operations, as many league insiders had expected. He will instead remain with the Denver Nuggets, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking. Connelly was in Washington on Friday to meet with majority owner Ted Leonsis. As the president of the Nuggets’ basketball operations, Connelly did not want to formally interview. He did not visit Capital One Arena or the team’s practice facility in Southeast Washington, several people with knowledge of the meeting said. Connelly instead discussed the Wizards’ job at Leonsis’s residence.
During that session, Leonsis did not extend a contract offer, according to three people with an understanding of the situation. The Wizards then made an offer on Sunday, terms of which were not immediately known. Connelly turned it down.
Connelly never wanted to formally interview for the Wizards job, but the fact that he’s meeting with them suggests serious consideration by the franchise. Should Connelly leave, the sentiment within the organization is that Karnisovas would be more than capable of handling day-to-day duties.
Shams Charania: Sources with @David Aldridge @fredkatz: The Washington Wizards are offering their head front-office job to Denver Nuggets president Tim Connelly. Connelly toured Wizards' practice facility today in meeting.
Since shortly after Grunfeld's exit, numerous sources have told NBC Sports Washington they believe the reason for the owner's methodical approach involves Denver president of basketball operations Tim Connelly. Connelly is considered a strong if not leading candidate for the Wizards' opening. However, Connelly wasn't expected to fully explore a move until the Nuggets' playoff run ended.
Candace Buckner: This DEN-POR ending is significant for #Wizards fans... League folks love scuttlebutt & whether it’s true or not, it’s widely believed in that circle that Washington will officially pursue Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly once his team’s season ends
Connelly just got a two-year extension from Denver owner Stan Kroenke that will pay him, industry sources say, somewhere just north of $2 million per year through 2021. It will surely take a doubling of that per annum, if not more, to get his attention, and to allow him to go to the Kroenke Family in good faith and say ‘come on. This is generational money for my family that I’ll likely not make again. It’s my (close to) hometown team. You have to let me go.’
Darren Wolfson: One thing heard today on #Twolves POBO candidate Calvin Booth -- yes, he's in the mix: he nearly accepted a front office job with the Wizards before taking the Nuggets ass't GM job. He has many fans in the league.
Connelly, who grew up in nearby Baltimore and has been in charge of the Nuggets front office since 2013, began his NBA career as an intern with the Wizards in 1996, when he was a student at Catholic University. Washington hired him as a full-time video coordinator in 1999. He worked his way up through the front office until becoming assistant general manager of the Hornets in 2010 and eventually heading to Denver three years later.
Josh Kroenke: “Building a true championship contender in the NBA is a unique process for each franchise, and our path in Denver hasn’t always been clear. But Tim, Arturas and the rest of our staff continued to work through every challenge we faced along the way, and I hope Nuggets fans are as excited as we are about our future. We firmly believe we can bring an NBA championship to Denver, and are thrilled to continue our pursuit together.”
Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, architect of one of the NBA's most impressive rebuilds, has agreed to a contract extension, league sources told ESPN. Connelly's contract could've expired at season's end, but discussions with Nuggets president Josh Kroenke had been ongoing in recent weeks and culminated with a new deal, league sources said.
Matt Moore: Along with Tim Connelly, the rest of the front office received extension offers as well, I’m told. Denver’s front office retains its continuity going forward along with Coach of the Year candidate Michael Malone.
"I'm a player. I'm still focused on my playing career. I want to get the most out of that as possible," Sue Bird said Sunday night before the Nuggets hosted Toronto. "Whether I retire tomorrow or in 20 years, I just want to get as much out as I can. But with that I have an understanding that basketball's not forever. At some point you've got to find something else, find your way, and that's what's so great about this. Hopefully with this process I can find out if I'm any good at this, if this is for me, and see what happens."
Bird was brought on board through a conversation with Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly. He basically asked: What does she want to do when she's done? "I always thought front office work, being with the team day in and day out, that was something I wasn't going to get to until I was done," Bird said. "When he put it in a way I could do both it became extremely attractive."
Bird's quickly gotten up to speed in her role as a scout. Then again, the Nuggets expected nothing less as they're off to a sizzling start. "She's been an asset," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. "Anybody who has a resume Sue has is going to help any organization."
Harrison Wind: Sue Bird just spoke with the media for the first time since the Nuggets added her to their front office. In her mind “an understanding of who you are” is the most important quality for a player to have. “If a player knows who they are, I want them on my team,” she said. IMGhttps://twitter.com/HarrisonWind/status/1074459405821693952
Denver Nuggets: 16-year vet. 11-time All-Star. 3-time Champion. Newest member of the front office. (Sue Bird)

Katy Winge: Talked with @Isaiah Thomas this morning about Sue Bird. I started the conversation by asking what comes to his mind when he hears that name. "A legend. A basketball legend." He also told me Bird was someone he turned to before deciding to get hip surgery. His full thoughts: pic.twitter.com/795d5b0poD

Katy Winge: Talked with Coach Malone about adding Sue Bird to the #Nuggets staff. "If you know the game and you see the game, it doesn't matter what color you are, it doesn't matter what gender you are. You know the game or you don't. Sue Bird knows the game." Here are his full thoughts: pic.twitter.com/0XwpoPtau4

Three-time WNBA champion Sue Bird, introduced Friday as a basketball operations associate for the Denver Nuggets, wasn't looking to get into NBA management when Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly called this fall with what she called the "perfect match" for her goals.
Harrison Wind: Here’s how Sue Bird describes her role with the Nuggets: "The best way to describe is it as an apprenticeship... a way for me to see what's what, what I like, develop certain things in my arsenal if you will for scouting and that kind of stuff.”
Nick Kosmider: Bird has familiarity with a number of folks within the Nuggets organization, including Michael Malone. Bird was rehabbing an injury in New York when Malone was an assistant with the Knicks, and the two would run through drills and talk ball while Bird was getting healthy.
It’s Game No. 82 again, and the Nuggets’ season has come to the kind of bitter ending that sparks nightmares for a coach at any level. Only five teams had ever won 46 regular season games and not made the playoffs, and now Malone’s Nuggets had just become the sixth. Every chin in the room must have been glued to the ground, right? Well, not exactly. “So we’re in the back, in the coach’s locker room, and (Nuggets president) Josh (Kroenke) came in and grabbed me and hugged me, and said ‘I’m so proud of this team,’” Malone recalled. “He says, ‘You know what? Obviously we’re all disappointed, but you know what was great? It’s Game 82, win or go home, and look who stepped up?’”
Michael Malone: “That’s a great opportunity as a franchise to look in to your players and say ‘Who do we have?’ And skill level is one thing, but intangibles are another, and the two guys who to me showed out were our two youngest players – Jamal Murray (20 points, six assists) and Nikola Jokic (35 points, 10 rebounds). “Those guys, you talk about pressure. It’s 82-or-go-home, and our two youngest players went out there and played phenomenal. Not a care in the world. Aggressive. Confident. That was more the talk after the game, like ‘Hey, we’re going to have a chance to be really good.’…"
Now factor in the return of a healthy Paul Millsap and that dynamic wing core of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, and it seems all but certain that all this optimism will prove to be well-founded. But how good can they be? Title contenders, according to Malone, in the not-so-distant future. “Teams do it in different ways,” he continues. “And what I like about us is I never mortgaged our future for instant success. We didn’t trade a core young piece for instant gratification, for a season where maybe it would’ve helped us. But big picture, long-term, was not going to allow us to have sustained success. And by keeping Jamal, Nikola, Gary, Trey (Lyles), our young core, re-signing Will, we feel that we have a chance to be competitive and ultimately a championship contender at some point. I give our ownership credit. And I’m not just blowing smoke, because we haven’t made the playoffs in five years, and we all want to make the playoffs, but we know that the importance of ‘Let’s look long term. Let’s not be a checkers player. Let’s be a chess player and look two, three steps ahead of everybody.’”
With the Nuggets, Karnisovas has helped construct a roster of players who combine a specific physical profile, versatile skill set and intangibles such as drive and selflessness. He continues to relish the bonds he’s built in a job he estimates is 80 percent human interaction. And, naturally, Denver’s current group is filled with international flavor. Point guard Jamal Murray and reserve forward Trey Lyles were born in Canada. Two-way wing Torrey Craig was discovered playing professionally in Australia. And the Serbian Nikola Jokic has blossomed from a relatively unknown second-round pick into one of the most versatile big men in the game. “Arturas was the one who was wanting it more for me to come here, so it’s kind of cool,” Jokic said. “He’s European, and he knows how European basketball (works). He played with some Serbian players. He knows our mentality. Of course he can help me a lot, just adapting to the basketball (in the NBA).”
These days, Connelly jokes that Karnisovas should wear a white lab coat to work because of his affinity for structure, organization and preparation. A visit to his office confirms that mentality. The wall behind his desk is filled with a color-coded grid featuring every player on every roster in the NBA, including those on two-way contracts. “We have a lot of similar friends and experiences, but I can be all over the place,” Connelly said. “I think, collectively, we do a good job of helping each other and kind of keeping each other in check and challenging each other.”
If you take Murray’s averages from Dec. 1 to the end of the season (60 games), they were All-Star worthy numbers: 17.8 points, 45.9 percent shooting, 41.3 percent from the 3-point line, 90.1 percent from the free throw line, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists per game. Murray had a team-leading plus-minus of plus-9.7 in April. And to think, he began training camp in a battle for the starting point guard spot. He ended it as the unquestioned starter, a player vital to any success the Nuggets were having, and a player the Nuggets view as a core player going forward. “He is a guy that likes to be challenged,” said Nuggets president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly. “I think he is a guy that has a chance to be special.”
The tough aspect of Jokic being himself on the offensive end of the floor is that it is both necessary and a gamble. For as talented as Jokic is, his aggressiveness can waver from time to time — especially as a scorer. While no one knows exactly why Jokic’s aggressiveness can come and go, one anonymous member of the Nuggets’ front office told Mile High Sports that he thinks that maybe Jokic’s issue is that playing offense is just a bit too easy for him.
Jared Jeffries, the former Nuggets scouting director and ex-Knicks forward, told The Post that Emmanuel Mudiay desperately needed out of Denver before his entire career was shot. “I know how tough it was for [general manager] Tim [Connelly] and [owner] Josh [Kroenke] to let him go,’’ Jeffries told The Post in a phone interview. “They did the right thing for the kid. They could’ve held on to him to the point of no return and ruin his career. It’s really good the Knicks trusted what they believed at draft time and got him for a discount. If he’s on top of the world and playing great, you’re not going to get him for that.”
Chris Dempsey: #Nuggets president Josh Kroenke is close friends with Richard Jefferson. The Nuggets would have to let someone go to complete the move.
“He’s really emblematic of the program we’re trying to build,” president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly, said. “He came in as kind of a scrawny 19-year old, struggled his first year, continued to work on his craft, got better and better, was given opportunities and ran with them. Never deviated from his desire to be here.”
In an appearance on The Woj Pod, hosted by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Nuggets’ president of basketball operations Tim Connelly shed some light on his decision to trade Nurkic and why the 23-year-old wound up in Rip City. “We had well-publicized issues as Nikola started to take off. Juka (Jusuf), who’s a great kid, was struggling with his new role,” Connelly rehashed. “It was no secret league-wide. We thought a guy like Mason with his ability to play with and without Nikola with his physicality, with his team-first approach, might be a good fit.”
Connelly continued about how there was surprisingly very little interest in Nurkic across the league when he started making trade calls. Certainly its been fantastic for Juka to have that starting opportunity. He played great. I don’t think anyone ever questioned his talent or skill-set and we’re extremely happy to have Mason but there are very few calls you can make or take where it’s ‘you know we have too many small forwards and you have got a good power forward’ or ‘this guy’s a good player’ and that part’s frustrating in that regard. During the Nurkic conversations, kind of realizing a change of scenery would be good for both the player and the team, how few willing partners there were even teams on paper at least ‘hey we think this guy’s a starting center. He’s proven to be such.’
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Steve Clifford officially back to Charlotte

Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today the team has named Steve Clifford head coach. Clifford, who previously served the team’s head coach from 2013-2018, returns to Charlotte, where his 196 wins ranks second in franchise history, sitting just 11 behind Allan Bristow.