Agent Optimistic Executive Warkentien Will Remain With Nuggets
But Warkentien's agent sees no reason for any of it. He expects Warkentien (pictured right receiving the 2008-09 NBA Executive of the Year award) to re-sign with the Nuggets after his contract expires this summer.
"I think that we'll get it done,'' Steve Kauffman told FanHouse by phone Wednesday afternoon, saying there will be discussions about Warkentien's contract after the season.
Kauffman said Warkentien wants to stay in Denver, though Warkentien has been linked to the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers recently, as well as a long-rumored connection to the New York Knicks.
"He'd like to continue there,'' Kauffman said. "He's just so talented that it seems whenever a team has an opening his name gets mentioned. ... That's our first goal is to stay [in Denver].''
Warkentien, whose Nuggets entered Wednesday trailing Utah 3-1 in a West first-round series, did not want to comment directly on what Kauffman said.
"I will say that [other Nuggets officials] and myself all spent [Wednesday] afternoon watching tape for the draft,'' Warkentien said. "We have about 60 days before the draft, and that's all we're working on right now.''
Kauffman said the plan is to talk after the season with Paul Andrews, executive vice president of Kroenke Sports Enterprise, which owns the Nuggets, and hopefully hammer out a new contract. He said the preference of the Nuggets organization has been to wait until after the season to negotiate.
"I'm in touch with Paul Andrews,'' Kauffman said. "Everybody is on an even keel."
Andrews said it's against company policy to discuss contract talks with any employee.
Kauffman emphasized how Warkentien "really likes'' Denver and agreed this season should carry an asterisk due to Nuggets coach George Karl having been away from the team since mid-March while battling a form of throat cancer.
"It's a team that depends tremendously on George,'' Kauffman said.
Kauffman said Warkentien only would look at other teams this summer if something didn't work out with the Nuggets. He described it as a "non-story'' that media reports have linked Warkentien with other teams.
Portland's general manager job could open if Kevin Pritchard does not return, something many have speculated. Warkentien was a Trail Blazers executive from 1994-2004 and still has a home in Portland.
The Clippers' job has been open since Mike Dunleavy was fired in March. Warkentien has been linked to New York for several years thanks to his friendship with Knicks executive Donnie Walsh. And there could be speculation on what would happen in Philadelphia if Ed Stefanski departs due to the arrival of Larry Brown.
But Kauffman remains optimistic Warkentien will be another key piece returning to Denver. Karl recently signed a contract extension that runs through next season, and all the Nuggets' top players are under contract for 2010-11.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson