DENVER - When Calvin Booth watches the NBA Finals, he sees franchises rewarded for taking risks.
“These teams that are consistently playing this time of year, they dare to be different,” Booth said Tuesday after a pre-draft workout, his first media availability since Tim Connelly stepped down as Denver’s president of basketball operations to head Minnesota’s front office. “They’re willing to take the heat if they make unpopular picks or free-agent signings. They know the end result will be favorable for them if they stick to the plan.”
The Warriors and Celtics are where Booth wants to lead the Denver Nuggets as the franchise’s new front-office decision-maker. Part of his plan is to keep the culture based on strong personal relationships established by Connelly intact.
“You’ve got to try to connect with them. There definitely is a business aspect to the NBA that you have to prepare players for, but while you’re with us, we’re going to get to know each other,” Booth said. “We’re going to have a good time. We’re going to try to have a lot of success.”
Unlike his predecessor, Booth comes with NBA playing experience, something team president Josh Kroenke said was valuable last week. Booth agreed.
“I think it’s really important,” Booth said, noting he’s been traded and amnestied in his playing career, which featured stops in Washington, Dallas, Seattle, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Minnesota and Sacramento. “I know what the guys are going through in the locker room. I played several different roles in the NBA, and I think I know what it takes to be a good team.”
Booth’s off to a good start in that regard. He called a roster led by Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., “great,” the same adjective he used to describe coach Michael Malone. That foundation gives him solid ground should he want to take a chance this offseason.
“I do think risk is minimized significantly when you have somebody like Nikola Jokic and Jamal (Murray) and Michael Porter Jr. We kind of know the hierarchy,” Booth said. “I’ve been here for several years now and know what kind of players coach Malone likes. When we identify guys for player acquisition, I think we have reduced the amount of risk significantly by having a hierarchy and knowing who coach Malone likes.”
Now, it’s just about finding the right complementary pieces who know how to play, especially alongside a rare talent like Jokic, and defend at a high level. The June 23 NBA Draft is Booth’s first chance to add to the roster. The Nuggets own the 21st pick, but Booth acknowledged the franchise would explore trades that could change that. Wherever the Nuggets pick, Booth will have the final say for the first time since starting his career as an executive career in 2013.
“It will be pretty cool to be able to make the call,” Booth said.
“I’m ready for the challenge and ready for the expectations that will be laid out in front of us,” Booth said.”