Nuggets hire Pelicans’ assistant general manager Tim Connelly

Former Pelicans assistant general manager Tim Connelly
Former Pelicans assistant general manager Tim Connelly

Tim Connelly, the New Orleans Pelicans’ assistant general manager the past three seasons, was hired as the Denver Nuggets’ executive vice president for basketball operations.

“I want to thank the Kroenke family for this incredible opportunity and for putting faith in me to help lead the Nuggets to new heights,” Connelly said in a news release Monday.

“I am also very grateful to (General Manager) Dell (Demps) and the Pelicans organization and want to thank them for preparing me for this next chapter in my career.”

Connelly is considered adept at handling the salary cap and player negotiations, but he is known foremost as an outstanding scout, particularly of international players, and has a wealth of contacts in European basketball.

He is credited with bringing to New Orleans backup point guard Brian Roberts for the 2012-13 season.

Connelly also brought guard Marco Belinelli to New Orleans but had a hand in bringing in many free agents, said Pelicans vice president of communications Harold Kaufman.

Connelly, 36, replaces Masai Ujiri, who stocked Denver’s talented roster into perhaps the deepest in the NBA.

Ujiri, who was selected the NBA’s Executive of the Year for this season, left to become general manager of the Toronto Raptors. And, Peter D’Allesandro, who was the Nuggets’ assistant general manager, last week took the job as general manager of the Sacramento Kings.

With the NBA draft June 27 and the Nuggets needing to hire a coach, team president Josh Kroenke said he is confident Connelly, considered a rising star, will be a great fit.

“He comes from a great basketball background, possesses an incredibly strong work ethic and is a wonderful person,” Kroenke said.

“His passion and energy for the game of basketball are contagious.”

A new contract for guard Andre Iguodala, who opted for free agency, may have to be negotiated, but Connelly’s first order of business may be to hire a coach.

Kroenke fired George Karl, who had guided Denver to a 57-25 record this past season, the best in franchise history, but they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors. Karl spent nine years with the Nuggets.

Before coming to New Orleans, Connelly spent 10 years with the Washington Wizards. He started as a basketball operations intern, became a scout and rose to director of player personnel.

He is known for his involvement with grassroots programs such as the NBA’s “Basketball Without Borders” and serves on the board of GEN Basketball Academy, which was founded by NATO and is based in Sarajevo, located in Bosnia and Herzegovin. Working closely with Demps, Connelly had been playing an integral part in preparing the Pelicans for the draft.

Demps and Connelly had just returned from the Euro basketball camp last week.