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Report: Wizards owner Ted Leonsis was less than $1 million per year short in offer to Nuggets president Tim Connelly

Ted Leonsis, Tim Connelly

Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis arduously looked for a fitting replacement for longtime president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld, who was fired after 16 years serving the franchise. Among Leonsis’ top targets was Denver Nuggets president and Baltimore native Tim Connelly, whose family situation made him a likely potential candidate to take the vacant job.

According to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post, Leonsis came less than $1 million short of Connelly’s asking price of $5 million per year to take the job.

Leonsis wouldn’t say if he offered Connelly the job, but it was reported that he had turned down the gig, choosing to remain in Denver to finish what he started after drafting gems like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Gary Harris — the nucleus of his Nuggets franchise.

The Wizards owner had never had to go through a search of this magnitude, missing several deadlines along the way, including the NBA Draft and the start of free agency:

“I really felt like Tim Connelly would have been a great choice. Because this was the first time Ted did a search, I don’t think he understood the timeliness of making the decision,” said a person close to the situation. “They were cornered a bit.”

Ultimately, Leonsis chose to hire interim general manager Tommy Sheppard to the full-fledged position, getting a positive response from the rest of the organization for promoting a longtime staple of the front office.

It’s tough to know what the Wizards would look like right now if Connelly was at the helm, but they look to be in good hands with an experienced executive like Sheppard in place.