Pat Connaughton was dicing up tomatoes (probably) and embracing "Taco Tuesday" at his home in Milwaukee last month when news broke that the NBA season was officially being suspended due to COVID-19.
His Milwaukee Bucks were slated to host the Boston Celtics the following day; but instead of game-planning for the highly anticipated regular season game against his hometown club, Connaughton and his roommate, Joe Stanton, found themselves frantically refreshing their Twitter feeds as everyone reacted to the unprecedented league closure.
Nearly five weeks later, the St. John's Prep product and the rest of the NBA's players, coaches and personnel remain in limbo as the association weighs its options for a potential return to action.
While many players are using the time away from the court to catch up on their favorite TV shows, play video games and keep themselves in the best shape possible under the circumstances, Connaughton is focused on something bigger: real estate. Is he able to squeeze in the aforementioned activities as well? Absolutely. But he's certainly made the most of the "break" by continuing to grow his business.
"It's funny actually, and I tweeted this maybe a few weeks ago, but the situation we're in right now is similar to what life will be like for pro athletes when their careers are over," said Connaughton. "Someday sports will end for all of us; Father Time is undefeated. So I wanted to focus on what I'd be doing during that time and what I can be doing during this time. Do you want to generate an income after sports and if so, how?"
For Connaughton, the answer to that question is simple -- and it's something he's been working towards since his early days in the league with Portland.
Growing up in Arlington, Connaughton spent many hours helping his father, Len, deal with some of the dirty work of being a general contractor and developer. Moving on to Notre Dame, where he helped the Irish to an Elite Eight appearance in 2015, Connaughton studied Business Management, dove deeper into real estate and began to envision his "life after basketball" future unfolding.
He started his own development company, tentatively dubbed Beach House LLC, got both his father (vice president) and roommate/childhood friend Stanton (director of project management) on board, and has been growing the business ever since.
"Just being around my dad growing up, I was so engulfed with it all from a young age," said Connaughton. "He taught me a lot and it was cool to see it all up close. Once I was fortunate enough to have another good source of income, I wanted to make sure that I did everything I could to take something with me after my career, and it just kind of started to grow."
Connaughton's basis for his company started with a vision: he wanted to find properties that wouldn't necessarily be described as "nice," purchase them and fix them up, make them unique.
"First I did a few in Portland," said Connaughton, who was drafted by the Trail Blazers in 2015 and spent the first three years of his career there. "I started with a few house flips, saved up and got more people involved in it. I got a bunch of guys in the NBA invested [including former teammate and all-star guard C.J. McCollum] and it started to really grow."
Fast forward to today, and Connaughton has nine working developments in the Portland, Milwaukee and South Bend, Indiana, areas. He hopes to eventually extend to the Boston area as well.
The majority of his properties are still under construction, including a run-down duplex in North Milwaukee which he plans to call home. The building is just a short walk away from the Bucks' home arena, Fiserv Forum, and will serve as a three-unit apartment complex with Connaughton occupying the top floor penthouse. He plans to rent out the other two units.
"We actually got the foundation put in two weeks ago," said Connaughton, who dealt with plenty of setbacks and obstacles in the early stages of getting the project off the ground.
"We were fortunate that the city let us do it and they've allowed us to continue to work on it during this time. I'm trying to keep the projects that we do to the areas that I know and have some influence and networking in."
As Connaughton's business continues to evolve, so too does its name. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard is in the process of moving away from the Beach House LLC designation to a more meaningful title, Three Leaf.
"The idea behind it is a three leaf clover, stemming back to Notre Dame," he said. "Each leaf represents something different: one is the athletes getting involved in the company, another is the businessmen mentors I had that believe in me and my vision, and the middle leaf is the real estate connection for everything."
During the pandemic, Connaughton says he's designated his afternoons to strategic planning and investing for his business. His mornings are spent working out; pushing himself to the point of exhaustion by running up nearby hills, riding his Peloton and lifting weights in his apartment. Before bed, he enjoys tuning in to TV shows such as "Suits," "Modern Family" and "Billions," the latter of which he had the opportunity to meet the producers and members of the cast and crew.
Connaughton also remains heavily involved in his non-profit "With Us Foundation," which creates athletic opportunities for kids. His passions go much further than basketball, and that's visibly evident during this time more than ever.
"Very rarely have I seen a business run by a professional athlete, there's only a handful of stories out there," said Connaughton. "I'm not going to be playing (basketball) forever, so it's always about 'what's the next step?' and how can I use my network to grow a business that will hopefully last longer than basketball when it's all said and done?"