Nuggets love Tim Connelly. But not enough to pay front-office exec who drafted Nikola Jokic what he’s worth.

Tim Connelly is no dummy. A front-office executive smart enough to draft Nikola Jokic would be a knucklehead to stay in Denver working for Nuggets ownership that doesn’t pay him what he’s worth.

In a cruel business where dollars are the only true measure of loyalty, the architect of Denver’s roster needs to end his bromance with team president Josh Kroenke, as well as coach Michael Malone, and take a gig in Minnesota, where it’s believed the Timberwolves are prepared to double his annual salary to $8 million.

Connelly is a smart basketball exec with a huge Michael Porter Jr. problem. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, only a fool would repeat the mistake of giving a $172 million contract to a player with a long history of being physically unable to stay on the court.

If the crystal jigsaw pieces of MPJ’s delicate back don’t hold together, is there any way Connelly can put a championship puzzle back together in Denver?

The MPJ gaffe is on Connelly’s permanent record.

Take the money and run, Tim.

There’s an unwritten rule in the Kroenke family sports business:

Hire a brilliant basketball mind to serve as general manager. Refuse to pay top dollar, because nobody buys a ticket to watch the GM pace nervously in a hallway at Ball Arena during the playoffs. End the relationship when the exec seeks a big raise. rinse. And repeat.

Way back in 2005, my phone rang in the Palace of Auburn Hills while on assignment covering the NBA Finals between San Antonio and Detroit. Kiki Vandeweghe was on the line, telling me how much he loved being the general manager of the Nuggets, then adding he had to consider taking a job with Cleveland, encouraged by a wife who wanted him to get paid fair market value.

Less than a year later, Vandeweghe and the Nuggets parted ways, when Kroenke Sports and Entertainment refused to extend his contract.

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