Georgetown University basketball coach John Thompson yesterday rejected a $6 million-plus offer to become general manager and part owner of the Denver Nuggets of the National Basketball Association and will stay at the school for his 19th season.

"I think at this time the timing is not right for me to leave here," Thompson said at a late-afternoon news conference, about 90 minutes after he informed Peter Bynoe, the Nuggets' managing general partner, and the Rev. Leo J. O'Donovan, the university's president, of his decision.

Last night the 48-year-old Thompson, a native Washingtonian, said he had been leaning "very strongly" toward accepting the offer, and he didn't decide to reject it until yesterday. He said public disclosure of the negotiations -- and the ensuing pressure it placed on him to make a decision hastily -- may have killed the deal.

"I was thinking very strongly about taking it," he said. "I think if some things had occurred differently, I'd be gone. But they didn't. . . . With all the leaking of information, it created an atmosphere that did not allow the situation to develop as smoothly as it could have. . . . It hurt the deal immensely."

A source close to Thompson indicated one of the factors in his decision was his concern at being able to reach a comfortable working relationship with Bob Wussler, an executive with Comsat International Video, which owns 62.5 percent of the Nuggets. Also, the source said, the three primary owners of the team were of concern to Thompson.

Thompson last night said he had been dealing with Bynoe and did not have enough time with Wussler to develop a comfortable relationship.

Thompson's decision came only hours after the Nuggets made two significant trades before next week's NBA draft. Thompson said he was consulted on the trades, in which the Nuggets gave up all-star guard Fat Lever and eventually ended up with the No. 3 overall pick in Wednesday's draft.

Bynoe and Wussler said Thompson had no input into the trades.

"If they were my trades, I'd be in Denver," said Thompson, adding the trades were not factors in his decision.

Bynoe said Thompson called him in Denver yesterday about 3 p.m. EDT. "He said that he was committed to Georgetown and thought it was best for all parties that is where he should stay," Bynoe said in a telephone interview. "I didn't cross-examine him."

O'Donovan said he was delighted with Thompson's decision. "It's a privilege for me that he will be staying at Georgetown," he said. "He is certainly a great coach, but he is still more a great educator."

Thompson said his rejection was based on "the totality" of the situation.

"This was a very difficult decision," Thompson said. "It was not a very easy decision at all for me to make, not because I'm tired of being at Georgetown nor because I felt that there's anything wrong with the people at Denver."

He said the Nuggets' offer was "more lucrative" than the previously reported five-year deal with an annual salary of $700,000 and as much as 4 percent ownership if he fulfilled the entire contract. Later, he said the annual salary figure was higher, but declined to be specific.

No changes were made in Thompson's contract at Georgetown, Director of Athletics Frank Rienzo said, and a source said Thompson didn't ask for any.

Sources said Thompson's annual income exceeds $700,000, including a salary at Georgetown of more than $317,000, a shoe endorsement contract worth a reported $200,000, plus other endorsements and a $20,000 speaking fee.

Discussions with the Nuggets, Thompson said this week, reached "a far more serious" level than others he has had -- with colleges and professional teams -- while building Georgetown into one of the nation's premier college teams. His 18-year record is 423-142, with three trips to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament Final Four and a national championship in 1984. Last year's team was 24-7, losing to Xavier (Ohio) in the second round of the tournament.

Beyond taking about the public disclosure of the negotiations, Thompson declined to describe in detail his other reasons for remaining at Georgetown.

"You make judgments, and some of those things are private," he said. "It's not hard for me to remain at Georgetown; it's not punishment."

Thompson said that the leaking of information meant that the lives of many more people were affected than if he and the Nuggets could have pursued the deal in secrecy, as Thompson had done before in declining other offers, such as one from the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics a few years ago.

For instance, Thompson said, O'Donovan discovered he might lose Thompson when he read it in the newspaper. Thompson said the process could have happened "more discretely." The deal "could have been done with more time if it had not been revealed."

Although his basketball program is rated among the nation's elite, Thompson said he has not accomplished all he can at Georgetown.

"I never felt there was nothing left to accomplish at Georgetown, because I think I've always envisioned the challenge here much broader than most people," he said. "I've never viewed the challenge here . . . as being solely my won-and-lost record, and thank God I work for people who never viewed my responsibilities that way.

"I think when I see there is not a challenge here at Georgetown, it would be good for me to leave and go anywhere."

Of the Nuggets' owners, Thompson said, "I found nothing wrong with the ownership of Denver at all."

He especially praised Bynoe. Bynoe and fellow managing general partner Bertram Lee are the first black owners of a U.S. pro sports team.

"The biggest thing I regret is that I don't have an opportunity to work with Peter Bynoe," Thompson said. "He's a bright, aggressive young man. He needs time to get {the franchise} molded and developed."

Bynoe said he and Thompson had talked daily for 10 to 12 days. The last call came about 3 p.m. EDT yesterday, and Thompson said he told Bynoe, "You didn't lose a GM, you gained a friend."

Thompson said this decision does not mean he will spend the rest of his career at Georgetown and is not an indication that he can't break away from the school that gave him an opportunity to become a Division I coach. He said he wouldn't have explored the Denver job if that were the case, and he still would like to become a pro general manager.

"I'm not too old to become a general manager in another couple of years," he said. "This situation, in case it occurs again, will enable me to do it more easily."