Kiszla: You might not like Stan and Josh Kroenke, but they know way more about winning than Tim Connelly.

Kiszla: You might not like Stan and Josh Kroenke, but they know way more about winning than Tim Connelly.

Leaving the Nuggets’ dirty work to somebody else, front-office honcho Tim Connelly took the money and his hurt feelings to Minnesota, then promptly made one of the more nonsensical trades in recent NBA history.

Nuggets vs. Timberwolves is a rivalry we didn’t know we needed.

But it’s game on now.

With both teams desperate to show they matter in the championship conversation, we’re about to find out who has the smarter ideas about how to build a winner: The Kroenkes or Connelly.

I’m betting on Stan and Josh Kroenke.

While I understand why Colorado sports fans frustrated with a stupid television dispute take umbrage with the Kroenkes, they have won championships in hockey (Avalanche), lacrosse (Mammoth) and football (L.A. Rams) during the first six months of this calendar year.

What has Connelly done?

In his first major act as the roster architect of the Timberwolves since leaving Denver, Connelly made the blockbuster trade he could never pull the trigger on with the Nuggets. Going all in on a championship dream for the Timberwolves, Connelly justified his fat, new contract with the team by dealing away four steady, veteran players, as well as four – count ’em – future first-round draft choices.

For that hefty price, you would’ve thought Connelly could’ve added Kevin Durant, the perpetually moody superstar looking to escape Brooklyn.

Instead, Connelly got Utah center Rudy Gobert, named the league’s best defensive player in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Gobert can cover the defensive deficiencies of teammates, but Connelly going all twin towers by pairing his new center with Karl-Anthony Towns was a crazy leap of faith into the NBA’s way-back time machine.

It made zero sense. This trade smacked of the same desperation young Kroenke mentioned when the Timberwolves offered a huge pile of cash to lure Connelly away from the Nuggets’ executive offices in Ball Arena.

Meanwhile, back in Denver, the man who replaced Connelly did two very smart things. Calvin Booth addressed the team’s most pressing need, adding perimeter defense, in the form of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown. In the process, Booth also parted ways with Will Barton, whose skills have never been as big as his ego, which caused him to pout when not being showered with love.

OK, let’s acknowledge these moves won’t mean a thing if the troublesome back of Michael Porter Jr. prevents him from playing at least 60 regular-season games or pain sidelines him for any length of time in the playoffs. But if MPJ, who can’t guard anybody, is going to be on the floor as much as the Nuggets hope and pray, it was absolutely necessary for Booth to give coach Michael Malone the defensive tools to be a legit championship contender.

The Kroenkes can be justifiably criticized for not ponying up to give Connelly a contract extension before his head was turned by Minnesota. On the other hand, while Connelly richly deserves applause for drafting Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, it can also fairly be said his patient refusal to skip steps gave Golden State time to reopen its championship window and allowed Phoenix to skip ahead of the Nuggets in the Western Conference pecking order.

The divorce between Connelly and the Kroenkes got messy, with hurt feelings on both sides. But it was time to end a relationship that was beginning to feel stale.

Moving on got Connelly paid and allowed the Nuggets a fresh take on how to maximize the MVP talent of Jokic, whose love for Denver is as obvious as his new supermax contract, which could be worth approximately $270 million. Although adding DeAndre Jordan, who looks washed on the verge of his 33rd birthday, as a back-up center was a head-scratcher, the team’s financial investment in him is so negligible that a better alternative can be found down the road.

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