clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Canis Pulsus - Vol. XIX Results

It appears that Tim Connelly was a 2.97 basketball executive in Denver. Was that enough to crack the top five list?

It took a while for grades to get fully reported, but they are finally in! Our beloved comments section has judged Tim Connelly’s transaction record as President of Basketball Operations with the Denver Nuggets, scrutinizing every detail available. What do the Minnesota Timberwolves have on their hands now?

It’s time to take a deep dive into Tim Connelly’s report card!


2017 NBA Draft - Round 1: Traded 13th pick (Donovan Mitchell) for 24th pick (Tyler Lydon) & Trey Lyles

2017 NBA Draft Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

D+

Trading the opportunity to draft Donovan Mitchell was never going to look good. Though Spida was not a sure thing, it still was not great value to move down 11 spots in the draft just for Trey Lyles. Lyles played just two short seasons with Denver, averaging 18.3 minutes per game, while Tyler Lydon played just 96 total minutes in the NBA. He hasn’t seen the court since 2019. Not a great start here, Tim.

Full voting results:


2017 NBA Draft - Round 2: Drafted Vlatko Čančar with the 49th pick and Monte Morris with the 51st pick

Denver Nuggets draft picks Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

B+

Great bounce back here in the second round. Though Vlatko Čančar has stuck around mostly as just a bench warmer, Monte Morris has firmly asserted himself as one of the most valuable backup point guards in the NBA. Fast forward five years after the draft, Morris finished second on the 2021-2022 Nuggets team in Win Shares, only behind two-time MVP Nikola Jokić. Well done!

Full voting results:


Sign & trade - Danilo Gallinari for ATL 2nd-round pick

Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

B

After being the signature player received in the Carmelo Anthony trade, Danilo Gallinari’s six-season stint with the Nuggets eventually came to an end. He was 28 years old and rounding back into form after an ACL injury, but Connelly was ready to reshape the team around budding young stars Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokić. This move was made mostly to clear the way for Paul Millsap, who many felt was a much better fit.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Paul Millsap for three years, $90M

Denver Nuggets Paul Millsap Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

B+

Many of us remember this as the time that the Timberwolves swung and missed on a landing the 32-year-old, four-time all-star power forward. Paul Millsap would’ve been a perfect fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but then again, he ended up on the losing end of the “play-in” game 82 and missing the playoffs. In your face, division rival!

Full voting results:


Two-way signings - Torrey Craig & Monte Morris

A-

We talked Monte Morris earlier, but picking up a relatively unknown Torrey Craig was still notable. Craig went undrafted way back in 2014 and spent a handful of years playing overseas in the NBL of Australia. He starred in his opportunities there, winning the MVP award after his second season in the league, followed by a championship and Defensive Player of the Year award. Connelly’s crew recognized his potential as a 3&D forward, giving him his first NBA opportunity. It’s hard not to think of a better pair of two-way signings than Craig and Morris.

Full voting results:


Signing - Mason Plumlee for three years, $41M

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

C+

Pretty wide range of grades for this signing, which likely boils down to what you think of Mason Plumlee. On one hand, he’s as useful of a center as you can have for one that’s unable to shoot the ball outside of the paint (including from the free throw line). On the other hand, it’s a hefty paycheck for a flawed player off the bench. Plumlee was previously acquired in a trade for Jusuf Nurkić, who ended up commanding a very similar contract (4-year, $48M). You could say that choosing Plumlee over Nurkić was the mistake here.

Full voting results:


Signing - Gary Harris for four years, $84M

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

Similar to Plumlee, the grades were wide-ranging for Gary Harris as well, though each result was at least a C- at minimum. Harris was an effective young 3&D player who more than filled his role, bumping up his scoring averages from 3.4, to 12.3, to 14.9 in his first three seasons prior to this signing. He rewarded the Nuggets with a career-best 2017-2018 season, logging highs almost across the board - 17.5 points, 39.6 3P% on 5.9 3PA, and 1.8 steals. He eventually saw his minutes and games played diminish due to injuries before being included in the Aaron Gordon trade in 2021.

Full voting results:


Trade - Emmanuel Mudiay for Devin Harris (Expiring)

Denver Nuggets v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

C+

Not much to see here. Emmanuel Mudiay never quite panned out after getting drafted as a lead guard in 2015. They essentially unloaded him for an expiring contract in the form of 34-year-old Devin Harris, making elbow room for Jamal Murray to take the reigns.

Full voting results:


2018 NBA Draft - Round 1: Drafted Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th pick

2018 NBA Draft Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

B+

Michael Porter Jr. was once the top high school prospect of his class, but debilitating back injuries kept him out for essentially his lone year of college. He played just three games in the NCAA and spent most of that season recovering and rehabbing to prepare for his NBA career. Scouts across the league were still enamored with his potential. He recently shared that the Sacramento Kings were about to select him #2 overall. Instead, he turned out to be the falling knife on draft night, as the Nuggets were extremely fortunate to scoop him up as the last lottery pick. Keep in mind, this was following the season where the Wolves defeated the Nuggets in game 82 and ended their playoff drought. In another world, the Wolves may have ended up with MPJ at pick #14 instead of Josh Okogie, who was selected six spots later.

Full voting results:


2018 NBA Draft - Round 2: Drafted Jarred Vanderbilt with the 41st pick, and selected Thomas Welsh with the 58th pick

Denver Nuggets 2018 Draft Picks Press Conference Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B+

Tim Connelly traded the 43rd pick and a future 2nd to select our very own Jarred Vanderbilt. Though he never got the opportunity to see the court in Denver, Minnesota is obviously reaping the benefits of Vando’s gifts.

Full voting results:


Signing - Nikola Jokić for five years, $148M

NUGGETS Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A+

No-brainer here. Connelly rightfully locked up Nikola Jokić as long as he could, no matter what the price. I wonder if David Kahn was/is taking notes.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Will Barton for four years, $54M

NUGGETS Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

B+

Basically at the same time of extending Jokić, Connelly also decided to lock up microwave scorer Will Barton on a team-friendly deal. Will the Thrill was entering his prime at age 28 and had been providing a necessary spark off the bench for the Nuggets after they traded Arron Afflalo for him in 2015. His perimeter scoring and flexibility playing with the starters or as a sixth man was essential to Denver’s success in subsequent years.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Torrey Craig for two years, $4M

DENVER NUGGETS VS ATLANTA HAWKS, NBA Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

B+

After previously earning a two-way contract, Tim Connelly award Torrey Craig with a Jordan-McLaughlin-esque deal, securing the defensive specialist on another team-friendly contract. Craig ended up providing them solid minutes, playing in 75 games that next season while starting in 37 of them.

Full voting results:


Trade - Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, 1st round-pick & 2nd round-pick to BKN

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

Kenneth Faried was once a fan favorite in Denver, known most for his energy and hustle. Given his limited skillset and the acquisition of more diverse forwards like Paul Millsap, the Manimal was shipped out with fellow formerly productive forward Darrell Arthur, in a salary dump. The 28-year-old Faried only played one more season in the NBA before ending up abroad.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing- Isaiah Thomas for one year, $2M

Denver Nuggets v San Antonio Spurs - Game Six Photos by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B

Just one season removed from an MVP-type season, Isaiah Thomas saw his career flash before his eyes. The debilitating “Jonny Flynn” hip injury transformed IT2 into a shell of himself. He was traded to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving, but didn’t even last a whole season next to LeBron before getting shipped out to the rebuilding Lakers. Now a free agent, Nuggets coach Mike Malone likely talked Connelly into giving Thomas a shot at redemption, as the two had built a strong chemistry back with the the Sacramento Kings in 2013. Still, Thomas wasn’t healthy enough to contribute and played just 12 games with Denver.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Monte Morris for three years, $4.8M

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

A-

An extreme bargain deal for the Denver Nuggets. Connelly’s team was smart to lock Monte Morris in to this contract before he fully developed into a vital cog off the bench for them. It felt this was right on time, as Morris rewarded the Nuggets by suiting up for all 82 games the next season and averaging 10.4 points.

Full voting results:


2019 NBA Draft - Round 2: Drafted Bol Bol with the 44th pick

2019 NBA Draft Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

At one point, Bol Bol was considered a top 5 draft prospect for the 2019 class. He had an intriguing (but injury-shortened) season at University of Oregon, and scouts red flagged him due to concerns about his health. Perhaps to an exaggerated degree, Connelly rolled the dice on the seven foot two inch prospect much later in the draft that many had originally pegged, just like he did for Michael Porter Jr. He did have to move a future 2nd round pick and cash to Miami, but it felt like a small price to pay for someone with such tantalizing potential.

Full voting results:


Trade - 2020 1st round-pick for Jerami Grant

Denver Nuggets Introduce Jerami Grant Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

B+

After surviving the Philadelphia 76ers “Process” era, Jerami Grant developed into a valuable starter for the (then contending) Oklahoma City Thunder. The lanky 3&D forward was on the second year of a 3-year $27 million deal, but Connelly, ever the gambler, traded a future first round pick (Immanuel Quickley) for him. Grant ended up being a star in his role, helping the Nuggets to a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2019, but Grant was determined to be a bigger fish in the NBA pond. The next season, he declined his third year player option and ended up being signed & traded to Detroit for a trade exception in order to take on a bigger role. Though it felt like a great move initially, it really didn’t work out in the long run.

Full voting results:


Signing - Jamal Murray for five years, $170M

Denver Nuggets...

A-

Securing their superstar guard was also a no brainer here. Jamal Murray earned the max and quickly proved his mettle in the 2020 bubble. The Blue Arrow averaged 26.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists on god-lie .505/.453/.987 shooting splits during that postseason run.

Full voting results:


Two-way signings - Bol Bol & PJ Dozier

Denver Nuggets v Houston Rockets Photo by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

B

I touched on Bol Bol earlier, but discovering PJ Dozier was another wise end-of-the-bench move by Tim Connelly. Though his stats won’t jump out at you, Coach Malone eventually relied on the six foot six inch guard for 50 games in his second season with the Nuggets, averaging 21.8 minutes per game. Dozier was later rewarded with a small three-year deal.

Full voting results:


Trade - Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, & Jarred Vanderbilt for Keita Bates-Diop, Noah Vonleh, Shabazz Napier, Gerald Green, and a future 1st-round pick

Denver Nuggets New Player Portraits Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

C+

This was part of the Timberwolves four-team puzzle in which Minnesota landed Beasley and Vanderbilt. That’s likely why this move earned some negative grades on Connelly’s part, but it has to be noted that Beasley had previously rejected a 3-year $30 million extension, thus he was likely going to walk for nothing. Still, it appears they gave up on Jarred Vanderbilt a bit too early. The other players involved did not amounted to much, though Wolves folk hero, Keita Bates Diop, ended up in a Nuggets uniform. Denver waived Napier and Green, and the draft pick ultimately resulted in Zeke Nnaji.

Full voting results:


2020 NBA Draft - Round 1: Drafted Zeke Nnaji with the 22nd pick and RJ Hampton with the 24th pick

2020 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

The jury isn’t out yet on 21-year-old forward, Zeke Nnaji, yet. He hasn’t earned a ton of playing time even in a season where the Nuggets were plagued with injuries last year. In his limited 17 minutes per game, he did post unique shooting splits of .516/.463(!)/.631. That said, a few of the players drafted shortly after Nnaji included Immanuel Quickley, Jaden McDaniels, and Desmond Bane.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - JaMychal Green two years, $15M

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

B

After a successful year with the Nuggets, Jerami Grant left for greener pastures. The big hole he left behind was quickly filled by the signing of 30-year-old journeyman, JaMychal Green. Though he didn’t offer quite the defensive versatility of Grant, Green was still productive off the bench for the Nuggets, spacing the floor effectively and rebounding the ball well. Green was always a name that would pop up when Wolves fans discussed potential 4-men to play next to KAT.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Isaiah Hartenstein one year, $1.6M

Cleveland Cavaliers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

B

The former G League finals MVP, Isaiah Hartenstein, was not quite a household name back in 2020. Connelly identified his potential as a rangy big who could both rim run and space the floor. Unfortunately, he was buried on the depth chart behind a soon-to-be NBA MVP and a number of other role players, getting just 9.1 minutes per game before getting traded midseason.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Facundo Campazzo two years, $6.4M

2020-2021 Denver Nuggets Content Day Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

The 29-year-old Argentinian, Facundo Campazzo, was one of the most decorated players in the European leagues. Gersson Rosas was also rumored to be chasing Facu before he decided to sign with the Nuggets. The passing wizard was a walking highlight, threading incredible dimes to his teammates during this rookie season, while also providing stingy JJ Barea-esque defense. Unfortunately, his sophomore season was notably worse as fallen way behind Monte Morris (and Austin Rivers!) on the depth chart.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Paul Millsap one year, $10M

2021 NBA Playoffs - Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

Now at age 35, Paul Millsap was clearly in decline from his prime years. This seemed to almost be a payoff contract for his years of service with the Nuggets, as Millsap saw less and less playing time as the season progressed. This contract wrapped up his career with Denver.

Full voting results:


Trade - RJ Hampton, Gary Harris, 2025 1st round pick for Aaron Gordon & Gary Clark

Denver Nuggets v Washington Wizards Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

B

Once again, it appeared the Tim Connelly was bidding against the Minnesota Timberwolves, as Aaron Gordon was the most popular name at the 2021 trade deadline. He was due for a hefty pay day after the season was over, thus making him a risky play. Regardless, Connelly made the move by trading longtime guard Gary Harris, rookie RJ Hampton, and a future 1st for the chance to retain AG long term. The gamble appeared to be worth it, as Gordon posted a career-best eFG% playing alongside Jokić, offering a great blend of slashing and high-level defense.

Full voting results:


Trade - Isaiah Hartenstein & two future 2nd-round picks for JaVale McGee

Denver Nuggets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

C+

It might be debatable whether JaVale McGee or Isaiah Hartenstein is the better player at this point in their careers, but trading a promising young 22-year-old and two future seconds for a 33-year-old big man didn’t seem wise. Though McGee had some of his best years with the Nuggets way back in 2011-2015, he appeared in just 13 games in his second stint with Denver.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Austin Rivers one year, $429K

Denver Nuggets v Miami Heat Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

C

Austin Rivers was originally a 10-day signing, but later had that contract converted to finish the season. Pretty insignificant move here, though he had some moments battling hard. He was probably most remembered for getting demolished by Damian Lillard in the 2021 playoffs, though he ended up getting the last laugh with the series win.

Full voting results:


2021 NBA Draft - Round 1: Drafted Bones Hyland with the 26th pick

2021 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

A-

What a steal at the end of the first round! Tim Connelly and his team keyed in on the young, explosive scorer and it paid dividends during Bones Hyland’s rookie season. He assumed a a Jordon Clarkson type scoring role for the Nuggets, averaging 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in just 19.0 minutes per game. The 21-year-old’s best days are probably still ahead of him.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Jeff Green two years, $10M

Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

Why JaMychal Green when you can Jeff Green? Nothing like to J. Green’s to really solidify your forward rotation! Je. Green signed a decent contract with his 11th different NBA team at the spry age of 35. He was pushed into a bigger role than what the Nuggets had probably envisioned due to the amount of injuries they experienced, but he still held his own, starting 63 games (75 GP!) and posting double-digit scoring averages. His future in Denver may be short-lived, as he has a player option. Uncle Jeff may be on his way to his 12th different franchise!

Full voting results:


Signing - Will Barton two years, $32M

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B

Will Barton has turned into a reliable option for the Denver Nuggets in his first six seasons with the Nuggets. As mentioned earlier, this ability to score and mesh with starters or off the bench was rewarded with a sizable extension. Barton declined a $14.7 million player option to negotiate this deal. Now 31 years old, he may be on the tail end of his prime years.

Full voting results:


Signing - JaMychal Green two years, $17M

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

Okay, at this point, it was hard for me to differentiate how many J. Green’s signings were happening. After a successful first season with Denver, JaMychal declined a $7.5M player option to settle on this extension. Like Barton, he was age 31 when he negotiated this deal, perhaps trying to cash out one final time before his twilight days in the league.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - Austin Rivers one year, $2.4M

Denver Nuggets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

C

These grades are pretty hilarious to me. Austin Rivers had a so-so year as a hardship contract pick-up which resulted in this cheap one-year deal. He ended up being the second (sometimes first!) guard off the bench for the Nuggets due to Jamal Murray’s absence. Not much to see here, as he’s likely to be scooped up by another team moving forward. He’s somehow still just 29 years old.

Full voting results:


Signing - Aaron Gordon four years, $92M

Memphis Grizzlies v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B-

This was the pay day that came with trading for Aaron Gordon. Entering age 26, Gordon was looking to get paid and his chemistry with the Nuggets roster resulted in this deal. Locking him up at $20+ million a year as he enters his theoretical prime is hard to criticize, unless you truly don’t believe in the roster that Tim Connelly had put together.

Full voting results:


Signing - Michael Porter Jr. five years, $172M

Denver Nuggets Travel to San Fransisco Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

C-

This was a tough one. The “potential” of Michael Porter Jr. is surely enticing, but actually committing a five-year contract to a notoriously injury-prone player is scarier than it sounds. MPJ’s injuries aren’t even a normal “run of the mill” ankle or knee issue, but an on-going back issue which has knocked him out of multiple full years of basketball activity already. He is just 23 years old so that gives plenty of time for him to try and get fully healthy. Locking up about $115 million to just four players for the next three years is dubious when you consider that two of them sat out pretty much the entire 2021-2022 season.

Full voting results:


Trade - Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, future 2nd-round pick, & cash for Bryn Forbes

2022 NBA Playoffs - Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

C+

After Bol Bol failed a physical, thus nixing a trade for Rodney McGruder, the Nuggets ended up making a move for sharp shooter Bryn Forbes. It appears that two badly injured players was the most Connelly’s limit, as he pulled the plug on the Bol experiment for some temporary shooting. Forbes didn’t play or contribute much for Denver.

Full voting results:


Free agent signing - DeMarcus Cousins one year, $683K

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

B+

Much like Connelly did with Isaiah Thomas, he appeared to do another solid for coach Mike Malone by rolling the dice on a former Sacramento Kings player, DeMarcus Cousins. There was minimal risk though, as the price for the 31-year-old Cousins was just a 10-day hardship contract. After a solid stint with Milwaukee early last season, Cousins showed enough with the Nuggets to get his contract converted to a rest of the year deal. He surprisingly had some positive moments on the court which included a pair of double-digit scoring performances against the Warriors in the postseason. Where Cousins lands next is up for debate.

Full voting results:


Do you think Tim Connelly is a top five President of Basketball Operations?

Western Conference Semi-Finals - Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

No (41%)

Draft: 2.90
Free agency: 2.90
Trades: 2.65
Signing/Extensions: 3.07
Overall: 2.91

Though my mother would be extremely disappointed with me if I came home with a 2.91 grade point average, it’s hard to be that harsh on Tim Connelly’s job in Denver. Of the 37 moves we graded, 62% of them were given an overall B range grade. He was fairly consistent across the board in how he scored on different types of moves, but he definitely excelled in the draft and contract extensions. Regarding the former, he earned a D+ for trading the 13th pick (Donovan Mitchell) in 2017, but Spida was far from a surefire prospect as 12 other teams also passed on him. As a reminder, other guards drafted leading up to Mitchell included Frank Ntilikina (8th - NYK), Dennis Smith Jr. (9th - DAL), Malik Monk (11th - CHA), and Luke Kennard (12th - DET). If you remove that single grade, Tim would’ve earned a 3.17 for his work in the draft! Meanwhile, locking up Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, and Monte Morris were some of his signature transactions. My takeaways:

  • Strong at identifying draft prospects despite having mostly late picks (MPJ, Morris, Vanderbilt, Hyland).
  • Solid at filling gaps through free agency (Millsap, Ja. Green) and finding cheap, but useful fringe players (Craig, Dozier, Rivers, Cousins).
  • Willing to take swings on high-risk, high-reward trades (Grant, Gordon) and will part with distressed assets (Mudiay, Faried, Beasley, Harris).
  • Commits salary to what works well with hefty contract extensions (Harris, Jokić, Baron, Murray).

Full voting results:


Prior to the 2022 draft, my feelings on the direction of the Timberwolves are...

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Very optimistic (76.5%)

Previous grade: Very optimistic (55.0%)

It’s hard to remember a summer where Wolves fans could feel as optimistic as they do this year. After a season where Minnesota (somehow) smashed the Vegas over, found postseason success, and have a young, promising, and exciting core without any drama, then follow up by bringing in smart front office execs, it’s hard not to feel great about our future.

Full voting results:

Link to the full results: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-19DLGxS7-52XokXOI5HyTRNWNJU8j4cT2dt0ZThc54/edit?usp=sharing


Well, that was a long one (SMUT). When we zoom out, it’s safe to say that Tim Connelly is certainly a good basketball executive. Maybe not great, but definitely above average! At the end of the day, isn’t that what we always wanted?