Nuggets sign GM Connelly to contract extension

The Denver Nuggets have extended GM Tim Connelly. (David Zalubowski/AP)

DENVER — The Denver Nuggets signed general manager Tim Connelly and assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas to multi-year contract extensions Tuesday.

The team announced the deals, which include extensions for the rest of the front office staff.

Connelly is also the executive vice-president of basketball operations and was hired in 2013 to replace Masai Ujiri, who left to lead the Toronto Raptors.

"We’re excited and honoured by this opportunity to continue what we have started here in Denver," Connelly said in a statement. "We have a locker room full of dedicated players and staff led by head coach Michael Malone."

Connelly has turned over the roster since taking over. Only three players remain from the team that went 57-25 in 2012-13 before being upset by Golden State in the first round in coach George Karl’s last season.

Connelly hired Brian Shaw to replace Karl but fired him late last season. Malone became Denver’s coach last summer.

"I thought we were going to be a pretty good team in year one. I was embarrassed by year two," Connelly said. "We had pretty high expectations, it never meshed. I’m happy we were pretty aggressive trying to quickly change midstream as the season went the wrong way."

Karnisovas came to Denver in 2013 after five years in Houston.

"The fact that it is no longer a distraction for them, they know they’re going to be here, I know they’re going to be here and that we have a chance together to build something is special," Malone said. "The reality, as we all know, is any team, head coach and GM need to be on the same page, need to have constant communication, open and honest. I have that with Tim."

Connelly called himself a "scout with a GM title" and said his "goal was not to be a GM, my goal was to be a paid scout." During his time in charge, the Nuggets have increased their interests in overseas talent — since 2013, the team has acquired centre Jusuf Nurkic in a draft-day trade in 2014 and selected forward Nikola Jokic in the second round that year.

They also added centre Joffrey Lauvergne and took guard Emmanuel Mudiay seventh overall in the 2015 draft.

Denver has five foreign-born players on the 15-man roster and three of its five top scorers are under 25.

"Tim, Arturas and the rest of our front office staff have worked tirelessly in reshaping our roster and our entire organizational vision for the future," team president and governor Josh Kroenke said. "Whether through draft, trades or free agency we have an excellent mix of players and are extremely well positioned moving forward."

Connelly said the extension was unexpected.

"I believe your contract is done when it’s done, so it’s not something I pursued," he said. "It’s something Josh pleasantly surprised us with."