Connelly, a primary target of the Wizards’ search, is expected to meet with Washington as soon as Friday, league sources said.
The Nuggets’ willingness to grant permission for Washington to talk to its Executive of the Year candidate is rooted in Connelly’s deep ties to the Mid-Atlantic region and some extenuating family considerations, league sources said. Connelly holds a great affection for the Nuggets organization and would’ve only considered an overture from Washington.
The Denver ownership’s confidence in general manager Arturas Karnisovas’ ability to assume full control of basketball operations, if needed, also played a part in its decision to allow Connelly to hear out Washington owner Ted Leonsis, league sources said.
Connelly and Nuggets president and governor Josh Kroenke maintain a strong relationship. It is unlikely that Connelly would’ve sought to consider another job except for the Wizards.
Connelly, an NBA Executive of the Year candidate, methodically constructed a Western Conference contender that earned the No. 2 seed and advanced to a Game 7 against Portland in the West semifinals. Connelly signed a contract extension in February, but Washington could offer a far more lucrative package — and the contract years and patience to overhaul a fledgling franchise.
Connelly is a Baltimore native and broke into the NBA in the Wizards front office as an intern in 1996 and rose to video coordinator, scout and personnel director before becoming an assistant GM in New Orleans in 2010. His wife is from Washington, D.C., and the couple’s extended family resides in the region.
The Wizards are replacing former president Ernie Grunfeld, who was fired after 16 years on the job. Interim GM Tommy Sheppard, a candidate to earn the permanent job, is running the team now. Oklahoma City’s Troy Weaver and former Atlanta and Cleveland GM Danny Ferry have both had multiple conversations with the Wizards and also remain candidates for the job, league sources said.