Tim Connelly, Nuggets Agree to New Contract: Details, Comments and Reaction

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2016

Denver Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly looks on as the team's first-round draft pick in the NBA draft, Emmanuel Mudiay, is introduced during an NBA basketball news conference Friday, June 26, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Denver Nuggets announced multi-year contract extensions for general manager Tim Connelly, assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas and their staff Tuesday, according to USA Today's Sam Amick.  

Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. 

In a statement, Connelly said:

We’re excited and honored by this opportunity to continue what we have started here in Denver. We have a locker room full of dedicated players and staff, led by head coach Michael Malone, who look forward to winning in this great city for years to come.  As a staff we would like to thank Josh and the entire Kroenke family for their continued support; we are unbelievably fortunate to work for such committed ownership.

Although the Nuggets own a 16-25 record entering Wednesday night's meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder and haven't recorded a winning season since the 2012-13 campaign, Connelly has compiled strong assets over the past few seasons, as CBS Sports' Matt Moore explained: 

As Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski noted, Connelly helped uncover a diamond in the rough when he acquired Jusuf Nurkic along with Gary Harris in a 2014 draft-day trade. Nurkic was subsequently named to the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team last season after averaging 6.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just under 18 minutes per game. 

Harris, meanwhile, has taken steps forward following a disappointing rookie season. Now a member of Denver's starting lineup, Harris is averaging 11.1 points and a steal while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from three-point range in his second year out of Michigan State. 

Nikola Jokic, Denver's 2014 second-round pick, has also excelled for the Nuggets. After signing a multi-year deal with Denver over the summer, Jokic is averaging 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds and has posted a team-best 21.4 player efficiency rating, per Basketball-Reference.com

More recently, Connelly was instrumental in selecting Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh pick in the 2015 draft, as well as building up Denver's stockpile of future picks. 

"Over the past few years Tim, Arturas, and the rest of our front office staff have worked tirelessly in reshaping our roster and our entire organizational vision for the future," Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said in the statement. "Whether through the draft, trades, or free agency, we have an excellent mix of players and are extremely well positioned moving forward."

According to RealGM.com, the Nuggets own protected first-round draft picks from the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers that could convey in 2016 or 2017 based on the structure of the respective protections. 

Denver's Current Draft Pick Credits/Swap Rights
PickProtections
2016 1st-round pick from HoustonLottery protected in 2016; Becomes Portland's 2017 second-round if it doesn't convey in 2016
2016 1st-round pick from MemphisProtected 1-5 and 15-30 in 2016; Protected 1-5 in 2017 and 2018; Unprotected in 2019
2016 1st-round pick from PortlandLottery protected in 2016 and 2017; Conveys less favorable of its own and Sacramento's 2018 2nd-rounder if it doesn't convey by 2017
2016 1st-round pick from New YorkDenver retains swap rights
2018 2nd-round pick from Golden StateNone
Source: RealGM.com

Connelly also nabbed the unsung Will Barton alongside Portland's protected lottery pick. Firmly in the Most Improved Player conversation, Barton is averaging a career-best 15.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists while knocking down 38.9 percent of his threes as a lightning rod off the bench. 

Denver still has some work to do as it seeks to crack the Western Conference playoff picture for the first time since 2013, but Connelly's ability to acquire young talent and build through the draft has the Nuggets on the right track. 

With a few more additions this summer, when the salary cap spikes, Denver could soon be one of the West's trendier up-and-coming teams.