Not long after they joined the Timberwolves ownership last summer, Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez made it their mission to find a top-tier executive with a proven track record of building a franchise to run the organization when they are set to become controlling owners in 2023.
With the help of current controlling owner Glen Taylor, the Wolves reeled in that high-profile target: Tim Connelly.
Connelly, who spent the past nine seasons building Denver into a Western Conference contender, was named the new Wolves president of basketball operations on Monday.
Connelly, 45, met with a contingent from the Wolves on Saturday at Taylor's home in Mankato, and spent some time mulling over his decision since then. He finally agreed to a deal after having an extended courtship in recent weeks with Lore and Rodriguez.
The contract is for five years and $40 million, NBA sources said, with Connelly getting an equity stake in the team that will raise the value of the package. Lore and Rodriguez purchased the team for $1.5 billion in a deal that was finalized 2021. Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, will be the controlling owner until 2023.
"My family and I couldn't be more excited to join the Timberwolves organization," Connelly said in a statement released by the team. "I appreciate Glen, Becky [Taylor], Marc and Alex's confidence in me to lead this organization and I can't wait to get to work to build an elite franchise that our fans can continue to be proud of."
Connelly's hiring represents the end of a long process for the new owners to find a top executive with a proven track record to run the basketball side of the franchise for years going forward, and it comes eight months after the team fired President Gersson Rosas in September.
Connelly helped build a perennial contender in Denver around two-time MVP Nikola Jokic since joining the Nuggets as general manager in 2013. He was later promoted to president.
The Nuggets reached the Western Conference finals in 2020 as Jokic blossomed in the years after Connelly drafted him 41st overall in 2014. In 2016, Connelly drafted Jamal Murray, the burgeoning guard who spearheaded that 2020 run alongside Jokic. Murray has been out since April 2021 after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Denver hasn't advanced past the second round in the two playoffs since.
Connelly oversaw the drafting of Michael Porter Jr., who was out most of this season because of a back injury, and promising rookie Bones Hyland, who simply tweeted "Damn ..." shortly after the news broke Monday.
Connelly also drafted two significant contributors on the current Wolves roster — guard Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt. Rosas traded for the pair before the deadline in February 2020.
Connelly is a native of Baltimore who also worked for the Wizards and Hornets.
"[Connelly] brings a wealth of NBA front office experience with various franchises,' Wolves ownership said in a statement. "We look forward to building upon our most recent playoff run and bringing more success to Timberwolves fans for years to come."
Connelly inherits a Wolves roster that made its second playoff appearance since 2004. Monday's news ends a high-wire act of negotiations while the team still allowed Executive Vice President Sachin Gupta to run the team on a day-to-day basis following Rosas' firing, days before the start of training camp.
Gupta oversaw the roster and made moves this season such as extending Patrick Beverley to a one-year contract and signing coach Chris Finch to a four-year deal as Gupta spent the past eight months auditioning for the role that ultimately went to Connelly.
Gupta has also been making changes to the front office, most recently hiring Steve Senior as an assistant general manager from Memphis.
Connelly's hiring leads to a number of questions pertaining to the Wolves' organizational structure.
One question throughout the search for a new president was if the Wolves would find someone who would work with the front office and coaching staffs already in place. As it pertains to Gupta's future, the news release the Wolves sent out Monday seems to indicate Gupta will be staying to work under Connelly.
"Connelly will work closely with Timberwolves Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Sachin Gupta, as well as Head Coach Chris Finch, whom Connelly worked with in Denver during the 2016-17 season," the release said.
Finch and Gupta have a good relationship and spoke highly of working with each other throughout the season. Finch also made a pitch to ownership to keep Gupta.
"I'm a huge fan, and I've advocated for him to have his opportunity to be the guy to run this team," Finch said after the season. "Nothing would make me happier than that. No better time, after this season, to be able to continue to build."
But Connelly and Finch also have a good relationship dating to when they worked together in Denver, sources said. Finch was an assistant with the Nuggets in the 2016-17 season along with current Wolves assistant Micah Nori.
In terms of the roster, the Wolves might potentially be in a position to offer a supermax extension to center Karl-Anthony Towns should Towns, who has two years left on his deal, make an All-NBA team. Guard D'Angelo Russell is entering the final year of his contract and will be looking for an extension while the Wolves will be trying to upgrade their frontcourt.
Connelly will also handle the Wolves' upcoming draft in June, when they have four picks, including No. 19 overall.
But he will also oversee multiple drafts and free-agency periods beyond that. His arrival settles one of the biggest questions regarding the future of the Wolves.
Lore, Rodriguez and Taylor got their guy and are investing a lot of years and money in him.
So begins a new chapter in the organization's history.