Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told Sports Headliners on Monday his president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly, isn’t leaving for a similar role with the Wizards.
Taylor said Connelly reached out to him “very recently” to speak about speculation he was going back to the Wizards organization where he worked for 10 years starting in 1996, rising from an intern to director of player personnel. “He said he is not interested,” Taylor stated during a phone interview.
Taylor considers Connelly, who the Wolves hired away from the Nuggets about a year ago, to be transparent. “He said don’t worry about that (leaving the Wolves). This is what I am going to do (stay).”
Connelly’s name has been rumored with the Wizards since late April when the Washington D.C. based NBA franchise fired Tommy Sheppard, its president of basketball operations. Fair or not, Connelly has drawn considerable criticism from the media for not being absolute enough in his commitment to stay in Minneapolis with the Wolves.
Connelly not only spent 10 years in D.C. with the Wizards, but he is also a native of nearby Baltimore. He and his wife Negah both have family ties to the D.C. and Baltimore areas. Connelly is a graduate of Catholic University in Washington. Four years ago he turned down an opportunity to leave the Nuggets and run the Wizards’ basketball operations.
In the 12 months since joining the Wolves Connelly and Taylor have built a relationship. Taylor said he appreciates the clarity with which his basketball boss speaks about problems. “I don’t think he’s got any hidden agenda, and I don’t think he tries to make me feel good just by making me feel good, or any of that.”
The Wolves are coming off a disappointing regular season and first round playoff exit in five games. Minnesota’s regular season record was 42-40, after finishing 46-26 in 2022. Last spring the Wolves pushed the Grizzlies in a first round series but weren’t competitive this year against the Nuggets.
Taylor is “overall disappointed” in the 2023 results but believes he has a “good team.” What the Wolves must do, he believes, is figure out how to play better with the core they have.
Is Taylor advocating for trades? “No, I am not.”
Nor does the longtime owner expect a knee-jerk reaction to the results of 2023 by Connelly. “Don’t shake it up just for the sake of shaking it up,” Taylor said.
That, of course, doesn’t guarantee the Wolves won’t make changes in personnel in the offseason. When Connelly was first introduced as the new basketball leader in the organization, he said he wouldn’t be afraid to “push the envelope.”
Connelly could hardly have done more to make his point than last summer’s surprising trade of five players and multiple draft picks sent to the Jazz to acquire All-NBA defensive center Rudy Gobert. The pairing with center-forward Karl-Anthony Towns gave Minnesota a “Twin Towers” look to contrast with the “small ball style” of most rivals. The experiment didn’t get a full trial because Towns’ calf injury sidelined him for 52 games.
Taylor acknowledges the question of how well the tandem can play together is on his mind. “They could play better but they must do it. …We have to figure out (how) to run a system that utilizes their abilities and complements each other. And I am not sure that we…reached that potential yet.”
Taylor didn’t like the lack of discipline from some players, including behavior that led to technical fouls. Displeasing him, too, were incidents at season’s end. Gobert threw a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson during the last game of the season and then was suspended from participating in Minnesota’s play-in tournament game with the Lakers to determine playoff seeding. Another starter, forward Jaden McDaniels, badly injured his right hand at half-time in that final game when he punched a wall. He didn’t play again after the incident.
“Childish behavior should not be tolerated,” Taylor said.
Meanwhile, Taylor and his wife Becky are scheduled to host about 60 players and staff from the Lynx tonight at their home in Mankato. That’s a welcome gesture the two have done for years with both the Wolves and WNBA Lynx.
As usual, Becky will make lasagna for the group. Taylor will speak to the gathering and then many of the attendees will play billiards or enjoy other entertainment. “After eating, that’s the highlight. I don’t think listening to Glen Taylor is the highlight.”
The Lynx open the regular season at home May 19 against the Sky. Taylor expects a lot of competition for playing time from a team that needs to improve its defense from last season but could be a surprise.
Taylor, who turned 82 last month, hasn’t been able to attend Lynx preseason games, and was absent from some spring Wolves games. “I had back surgery, but I don’t know the results of it yet,” he said.