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Karl being out in Denver shakes up coaching hire carousel

Jun 6, 2013, 12:39 PM EDT

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Of the 16 teams that made the NBA playoffs, it appears six of them will be changing coaches this season. That includes one of the final four (Memphis, unless there is a change of heart and they re-sign Hollins). If Memphis does make a change, that will be 11 teams total making a move, tying a league record for one offseason.

With George Karl being told his services are no longer needed in Denver the game of musical chairs for where coaches might land just got very, very interesting. Here is a quick breakdown of where things stand with teams and how Karl may or may not fit in.

• Los Angeles Clippers: This, on paper, seems the best fit for Karl if he wants to coach again this year. And you have to think team management will call him. Karl likes up-tempo teams, he would have a real floor general and he’s had success with good power forwards before. The Clippers management is putting together a short list that is reported to include Pacers lead assistant Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins of Memphis (the Grizzlies have gotten permission to speak with him). However, the owner Donald Sterling makes the final decision on the Clippers coach after he personally meets with each coach over a dinner. So, there is some unpredictability to how it all turns out.

• Memphis Grizzlies: There is still a chance Hollins returns here — he wants to and he was at a team draft workout of young players Wednesday. But the talks are dormant and all the buzz is they are going another, more stats-friendly direction. Assistant coach Dave Joerger is considered the guy most likely to get the job — to maintain continuity — but Karl has good relationships in the Memphis front office so it could happen. Marc Stein said the idea of a “Hollins for Karl trade” is not out of the realm of possibility.

• Denver Nuggets: This is a very attractive job — a 57-win team with a young roster that should improve. This search process has just started, but Shaw seems a good fit here — good young coach with good young team that needs to learn how to win (something Shaw has been around and understands as a player and coach). They are reportedly interested in Hollins.

• Brooklyn Nets: They reportedly are targeting Shaw — it could become a race to see who can offer him the best contract first. They also are expected to speak to Hollins. This is a big-paying, big market job. It also comes with an owner who is putting on pressure to win a title and a roster that in reality is fourth or fifth best in the East (and with contracts that are hard to move).

• Philadelphia 76ers: New GM Sam Hinkie is early on in his coaching search process, but you’d have to think he’d give Karl a call.

• Detroit Pistons: This is down to Maurice Cheeks and Nate McMillan. No word yet on which way management is leaning, but if McMillan is not taken he could be in the mix for the Clippers and other jobs as well.

  1. hoodheisman - Jun 6, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Lakers – What the media hasn’t talked much about is the only assistant coach currently under contract with the Lakers is D’Antoni’s brother. Is it a coincidence that a lame duck coach isn’t filling his staff while all his “former” staff are landing jobs elsewhere? I still think Phil Jackson is in play, but Karl presents a solid plan B type situation.

  2. bluenoser23 - Jun 6, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    I can see the Raptors being in the mix too if Karl wants to follow his old boss to Toronto. Urji said a couple of days ago that he currently didn’t have any reason to make a coaching change…..however now that Karl is available he sure does!!!

    • madnova - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:01 PM

      I was just about to say the same thing…wondering if the Raptors were left off the list because they do not as of this moment have an opening….but then, the Grizzlies are there….

    • 4thquartermagic - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      Karl will go to the team with the best point guard. In order to run his offense, Karl needs a PG that can control the tempo.

  3. azarkhan - Jun 6, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Not sure why a respected coach like George Karl would want the Clippers job. The owner Donald Sterling used to heckle his own point guard, Baron Davis, during games. Sterling is an egomaniac, à la Al Davis.

    • xliontamer - Jun 6, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      He would want to because the team has real talent, more than he had in Denver. He would want to because he will make lot’s of money doing what he loves. He would want to because he would have a say in player movement. He would want to because the combo of Paul and Griffin with him as coach only ups the ante for more good players to come.

      All of the focus on Sterling is overblown.

      • azarkhan - Jun 6, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        “All of the focus on Sterling is overblown”, unless he is your boss.

      • asimonetti88 - Jun 6, 2013 at 5:17 PM

        “because he will make lot’s of money doing what he loves”

        Wouldn’t bet on it with Sterling running the show.

      • brookwell2013 - Jun 6, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        CP3 is a great talent for a coach of Karl’s caliber; I am starting to have concerns about Griffin though. I think he’s a good kid and very entertaining on the floor but he’s court demeanor is not good at all (too many scowls and wah wah wah’s at the ref’s) and he just did not improve like a rising star should. Maybe it was the injuries he had for much of the year but that’s another concern. All in all I think the Clippers are just not as talented as everyone commonly believes and I think Karl will take that into consideration if he’s in the mix fo he Clippers job. The big “no” for the Clips of course is their nitwit owner.

  4. dolphins4 - Jun 6, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    The 76ers ought to hire him,he’s a great coach.

  5. patfic15 - Jun 6, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    “Hey Nuggets! Welcome back!”—mediocrity

  6. phillyphan93 - Jun 6, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    I hate to say it but there is no shot he lands in Philly, Hinkie is all about the “money ball” theory and is gonna want a coach that is more easily manipulated into trying this idea. Karl is a head strong coach and knows what type of players he wants. It might be a long couple of seasons in Philadelphia, but ill still be watching.

  7. chrisco716 - Jun 6, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    Mediocre… no way! Denver might not win 40 games next year! They could be bad. A sharp drop from 57.

  8. patfic15 - Jun 6, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    If he could somehow get Iggy in LA..that would be sweet. Not that Iggy is leaving that $$$ though. Clippers seems incredibly obvious ….they need each other. 2-3 yr run.

  9. jprcox - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    I was reading some Denver news and blogs that seem as if fans there aren’t too sad to see Karl go – they think they need another coach to bring the Nuggets over the hump. So you know, that is exactly what we said in Seattle many years ago, and what came was a slow decent into NBA purgatory that ended with no team at all.

    Karl was the best thing that happened to Seattle Sonics – and we paid the ultimate price, while not realizing how big a role he really played.

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