- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2019

The Washington Wizards will have to regroup after Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly turned down an offer to fill their general manager vacancy.

Washington had offered Connelly, a Baltimore native with strong roots to the Wizards, the job on Friday. But Connelly reportedly preferred to stay in Denver, where he’s built one of the most promising cores in the league. The Nuggets are coming off a 54-win season and a second-round playoff defeat.

Washington will now circle back to other candidates. They’ve interviewed Oklahoma City’s Troy Weaver, former Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry and acting general manager Tommy Sheppard for the position.

The Wizards, of course, are searching for a new general manager after owner Ted Leonsis fired longtime executive Ernie Grunfeld. The Wizards severely underperformed last season, finishing with a 32-50 record.

Connelly was considered to be the front-runner for the role, given his roots to the District. Connelly began his career with Washington, first serving as an intern and working his way up through the franchise. He remained with the Wizards until 2010, when he was hired as an assistant general manager with the New Orleans Pelicans. Connelly, too, reportedly told close associates that running the Wizards would be his “dream job.”

Beyond his local ties, Connelly has done an impressive job in Denver since his arrival in 2013. Over the last five seasons, he has drafted well — most notably finding star Nikola Jokic in the second round of the 2014 draft. This year, the Nuggets advanced past the first round for the first time since 2009.

Washington, meanwhile, is in desperate need of a candidate who can steer them in the right direction. The Wizards have a pivotal summer coming up in which they have the ninth pick in the draft and a number of restricted free agents.

The team’s next general manager will have to decide how to rebuild the team, just two years removed from a Game 7 loss against the Boston Celtics. For instance, will the Wizards look to trade Bradley Beal? Beal is Washington’s best player, but he could potentially bring a rewarding return in a trade.

The Wizards, of course, will be without star John Wall for the majority — if not all — of next season while the All-Star recovers from an Achilles surgery.

Connelly met with Leonsis on Friday to discuss the job, leading to an offer from the Wizards. But ESPN reported Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke made an “aggressive and compelling” case to convince Connelly to stay with the team. ESPN first reported the news.

As for the other candidates, all three have connections to either the Wizards or the District.

Ferry is the son of former Bullets general manager Bobby Ferry, who led the franchise for 17 seasons. Weaver, too, is from the District and began his career as a coach with the DC Assault, a local AAU team. Both have been interviewed twice for the position.

Sheppard has been with the Wizards since 2003, serving as Grunfeld’s No. 2. In April, Leonsis said Sheppard would be under consideration for the full-time role.



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