The Wizards offered the title on Friday to Connelly, a Baltimore native who began his professional career as an intern in the team’s basketball operations department.
The 41-year-old has since risen to NBA prominence, building a contender in Denver after taking over decision-making duties when Masai Ujiri left for the Toronto Raptors in 2013. His fingerprints are everywhere in Denver — from drafting Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray to signing Paul Millsap and trading for Will Barton —all of which makes him a contender for the Executive of the Year award.
According to Wojnarowski, Connelly would have only considered leaving Denver for Washington, and the Nuggets granted him permission to interview for the job last week based on his ties to the area and “some extenuating family considerations.”
That those considerations weren’t enough to draw Connelly is a concern for the Wizards, who have been in search of a direction since firing longtime president Ernie Grunfeld at regular season’s end. Washington may be in for a franchise-altering summer. Former No. 1 overall pick John Wall may miss all of next season with a torn left Achilles tendon, and his four-year, $170 million contract extension that begins in July will be one of the NBA’s most cumbersome going forward.
It seems time for a complete teardown in Washington, which could mean the start of trade considerations for All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal. The 25-year-old would have a host of suitors if the Wizards began shopping him, including the Los Angeles Lakers, and having Connelly in place to field offers may have helped ensure a rebuild got off to the best possible start with top picks and prospects.
It is unclear now whether Connelly and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis had different visions about the team’s future. Leonsis sure seemed to think they were on the same page, offering the job to Connelly shortly after interviewing him on Friday.
The Wizards are now refocusing their search on fellow finalists Troy Weaver, Danny Ferry and Tommy Sheppard, according to Wojnarowski. Sheppard has been serving as the team’s interim general manager since Grunfeld’s firing in early April.
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