Nuggets reward operations staff with new deals

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The Denver Nuggets have given contract extensions to their entire operations staff, including president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, architect of one of the NBA’s most impressive rebuilds.

Connelly’s contract could have 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 told ESPN.

“It gives me immense pride to announce contract extensions for our entire front office, as our journey to this point has been one of hard work, patience and trust in one another,” Kroenke said in a statement. “When Tim joined us in 2013, he understood the vision that we had for the future of the Nuggets, and through his dedication our program is incredibly well positioned to compete at the highest level for years to come.”

After a steady, deliberate rebuild since taking over in the spring of 2013, Connelly has Denver on the cusp of a return to the playoffs — and a high playoff seed in the Western Conference looming this spring. The Nuggets are 39-18, two games behind the first-place Golden State Warriors. Nuggets coach Michael Malone — who signed an extension in the preseason — is a head coach in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

Connelly, Kroenke and general manager Arturas Karnisovas have constructed an infrastructure of young talent that has the Nuggets framed for sustainable success in the Western Conference. The drafting and development of All-Star forward Nikola Jokic and guards Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Malik Beasley have been key parts of the franchise’s renaissance.

Connelly drafted Jokic with the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA draft, a move that turned into one of the decade’s most impactful selections. Jokic signed a five-year, $148 million contract extension last summer.

Connelly joined the Nuggets as GM in 2013, after leaving the New Orleans Pelicans where he had been an assistant GM. The Nuggets promoted him to executive VP of basketball operations in 2017, while also promoting Karnisovas to the GM title. Connelly had also worked in player personnel with the Washington Wizards.

Kroenke said the moves included new deals for Karnisovas and multiyear extensions for the entire basketball operations staff.

“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,” Kroenke said. “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.”

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