clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

In Hiring Tim Connelly, Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore Pass First Big Test

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ new ownership group lures a top executive to Minneapolis

NBA: Playoffs-Los Angeles Clippers at Minnesota Timberwolves Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

When a new leadership group walks in and starts making the pitch for their vision using a litany of buzzwords, I think it is only natural to feel ... skeptical. What that group also walks into the organization with the worst winning percentage in Men’s North American sports history and says their plan is to bring in a “top-5” executive, it is even more understandable for your eyes to roll to the back of your head.

This is only the beginning, but I think even a skeptic like myself must admit that, despite all the eye-rolling the salesmanship can induce, this is a massive win for Minnesota Timberwolves minority partners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez. It is a successful swing that should give the fanbase confidence that there is some substance behind things like “Vision, Capital, People.” I don’t know if Tim Connelly is technically a “top-5” executive, or how you’d even go about putting a list like that together. What I do know is that the Wolves went out and got their guy, and for once, “their guy” wasn’t just the shiny toy.

When I originally saw that Lore and Rodriguez wanted to hire a top executive, that was my worry. I was worried that this would be the Tom Thibodeau situation again, where the team hired the popular, mainstream name and not the right person.

Connelly is not the biggest name or the most recognizable one. What Connelly is, is a target you come up with when you have basketball people in your ear that you are listening to.

That is the single most important thing to me about this entire ordeal. It’s not to suggest that simply promoting Sachin Gupta would’ve been doing the opposite, it is only to suggest that Connelly has a strong track record of working within significant restraints and coming out ahead anyways. Having an ownership group that is willing to listen to the basketball people in their corner is incredibly important.

As for Connelly’s track record specifically, I’m not quite sure people entirely appreciate what he was working with (or for) in Denver. It’s not my job to be his apologist or defend every move he made, but I do at least want to point out that he was working under some of the more difficult conditions in the NBA.

Stan Kroenke, despite being worth $10.7 billion, is one of the cheapest owners in the NBA. Sure, it’s not my job to spend someone else’s money, but this is the first time the Nuggets have been over in the Luxury Tax line over eight years with Connelly at the helm. The Denver Nuggets are also one of only two teams that does not have their own dedicated practice facility.

We can quibble about just what the ceiling for the Nuggets was with Connelly at the helm, but the reality is that they were at the very least a real threat to make the NBA Finals last season before injuries ran amok. That is a hell of a feat under any circumstances, but especially so if the odds are stacked against you.

While this is all about giving credit to Lore and Rodriguez, the truth is that the real hard work starts now. They have the base of the house set now. In Connelly, Gupta, Chris Finch, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves genuinely have great people in their front office, on their coaching staff, and on the roster. Now, it’s time to build off of that.

You know how you can really prove to people that you will spare no expense to succeed? Pay the luxury tax, and after Glen Taylor isn’t around to foot the majority of the bill.

That, ultimately, is when we will really see their values put to the test.

This, though, is a good start. It’s not only a sign that Lore and Rodriguez are listening to people who are experts in this field, but it’s a sign that they can execute a plan when they come up with one. Is this ultimately going to work out?

Will a front office triumvirate of Tim Connelly, Sachin Gupta, and Chris Finch bring a championship to Minnesota? I have absolutely no idea.

What I do know is that for once, ownership was a massive advantage for Minnesota as opposed to a crippling disadvantage. That’s new, and it’s something we should all feel good about for now.