A 57-win season wasn’t enough to save former Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl from being fired. Neither was his 1131-756 career record.
With just one year left on his contract, the 62-year-old coach was exterminated Thursday, as first reported by Adrian Wojanrowski of Yahoo! Sports. According to all accounts, Karl had expressed interest in signing an extension with the team as a pay day for the team’s greatest regular season in franchise history. But the team and president Josh Kroenke did not reciprocate that interest.
Karl was awarded the NBA’s Coach of the Year award less than a month ago. He hasn’t coached a team to a losing season since 1988 when he was with the Golden State Warriors. He is highly regarded around the league as one of the most well-established, elite coaches and the bidding for his services will be highly competitive in the coming weeks.
Karl had reportedly been “unsettled” by former GM Masai Ujiri’s departure and had garnered interest from the Los Angeles Clippers, who are currently in the search for an established, veteran coach. He tweeted the following message following being let go:
CoachKarl22: I want to thank Nuggets fans for their support over the past 8 yrs. The karma on the street was incredible. Denver will always be home.
The Nuggets will now rebound in looking for a coach to take over. They are also currently looking to replace Ujiri, who recently left town to take the same position with the Toronto Raptors. Two names that keep popping up are Indiana assistant coach Brian Shaw and Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. Hollins has been given permission by the Grizzlies to talk with other teams but says that he prefers to stay in Memphis.
Shaw is one of the hottest names on the coaching market and has garnered interest from various teams around the league for the past few years. He is a five-time NBA champion, playing in the NBA from 1998-2003. He worked for the Los Angeles Lakers for seven years before heading to the Indiana Pacers to serve as an assistant coach. He’s well respected around the lead and is a leading candidate for the Nuggets head coaching job, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Hollins played in the NBA from 1975-85 and has been the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies since the 2008-09 season. In that span of time, he’s recorded a 196-155 record, most recently taking the Grizzlies to the Western Conference Finals. He’s known around the league as a defensive guru. A recent disagreement with the Memphis front office has opened up the possibility of him leaving the Grizzlies for a new organization.
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