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Nuggets reportedly parted ways with George Karl because he wasn’t listening to management

Jun 7, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT

George Karl AP

When the Nuggets informed George Karl that they would be parting ways with the tenured head coach on Thursday, it was definitely surprising, but it wasn’t necessarily a complete shock.

Karl earned the Coach of the Year award for guiding Denver to 57 regular season wins and the best home record in the league, but was going to be entering the final year of his contract, and it was believed that the Nuggets, fielding a strong young team full of promise, wouldn’t be eager to offer Karl the extension he’d no doubt be lobbying for throughout the upcoming season.

But in addition to the lingering contract issue, there were apparently fundamental differences between Karl and management in terms of both strategy and philosophy, and that may have had just as much to do with his being let go as did anything else.

From Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida:

The Nuggets, seeded third in the West, flamed out in the first round of the playoffs, losing 4-2 to No. 6 Golden State. Management blamed Karl for the loss, believing he panicked by trying to match up with the Warriors’ small-ball approach after they had lost David Lee due to injury in Game 1. The Nuggets all season had been able to beat up teams in the paint, and they moved away from that style.

Even before the Golden State series, management had some friction with Karl. The Nuggets had signed center JaVale McGee to a four-year, $44 million contract last summer. Team brass wanted Karl to use McGee, 25, more so he would develop.

However, Karl insisted on starting center Kosta Koufos, whom management regarded as a backup. McGee got only an average of 18.1 minutes per game to 22.4 for Koufos.

If Karl wanted to win — which he clearly does, at this late stage of his coaching carer — it’s hard to argue with the results.

The playoff loss to the Warriors was due to the ridiculously hot shooting of a surging Golden State team perfectly constructed to match Denver’s style, especially once Danilo Gallinari went down with an ACL injury late in the season. As for playing Kosta Koufos more than JaVale McGee … that decision speaks for itself.

The report goes on to mention Andre Miller‘s relatively heavy usage compared to that of rookie Evan Fournier, but Karl has always been Miller’s biggest fan, and again, the results when Miller played were there for the most part.

With Karl and the Nuggets’ star GM Masai Ujiri both now gone, management will have plenty to say about how the team is constructed, and how a new coach uses those pieces. It’s doubtful that the team could have done any better than it did in finishing the 2013 season, but if those in the executive offices have a master plan that they believe in, it is possible to get different people in place who may execute it exactly as instructed.

  1. jcmeyer10 - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Him and Lionel Hollins can start a support group. They will find it with the millions of dollars they are being paid by their next team.

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      Fund, pardon.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Karl take your coach of the year award and first round exits
      to Clippers, you deserve each other.
      Nuggets are garbage ever since they sent Melo home,
      I’m coming home…………….

      • patfic15 - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        Garbage since the Melo trade? Don’t let one good Knicks seaon fool you

      • lmoneyfresh - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

        The first round exit couldn’t have had anything to do with their best player blowing out his knee could it? Nah.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

        Garbage since Melo left?

        The Nuggets record, since Melo was traded (regular season games only) is 113 wins against 60 losses (from first game he was traded, plus each of last two seasons).

        The Nuggets record before Melo was traded, plus the two seasons before the year he was traded, their record was 139 wins against 82 losses (there are more games here because Melo was traded late in the year he was traded, plus the 2011/12 yr was a strike shortened season).

        The tally is that the Nuggets winning percentage after Melo has been .653 percent.

        The Nuggets winning percentage with Melo for the two yrs before his trade and the games in the season up to his trade was .629 percent.

        The Nuggets have easily been a much better team, record wise and that is why they play the games by the way, without Mehog…

  2. 00maltliquor - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    When I read the headline before clicking it open I KNEW it was gonna have something to do with JaVale’s minutes and him not starting this year! That’s a sh!tload of money to have to pay a player just to come off the bench for 18 min. a game while you start a below average center.

    I can see why management would be pissed, but look at the end result: 57-25, without a true star. Add on top of that COY honors and it’s hard to argue with that.

  3. 00maltliquor - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Bet you the next coach/puppet starts JaVale next season!

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      True and I bet you that they won’t go 57 and 25 next yr either… and their record won’t be better either…

    • badintent - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:21 PM

      ya think ?

  4. redbaronx - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    As Wizards fans could tell you, paying JaVale ANY amount of money above a players minimum is a mistake. The guy makes boneheaded mistakes all the time. For all of his athletic talent, at 25 it’s a huge bet that this guy will ever learn because he doesn’t take responsibility for the stupid stuff he does. There’s a reason he was in Karl’s doghouse, and a reason the Wizards let him go.

    I can see Denver regressing the next couple of years if ownership meddles with personnel decisions. Ujiri and Karl might be better off elsewhere.

    • fm31970 - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      I can see management’s point. If McGee is goign to learn to make better plays, and not make the boneheaded plays, he needs to be an integral part of the offense. Zach Randolph was once young and immature on the court, too, but he’s come around quite well. Denver agreed to take on the challenge of helping McGee improve, but if he doesn’t get in the game when it counts, his season is wasted.

      • redbaronx - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        @fm31970 – There’s a difference between McGee and Randolph. Randolph was immature, but knew how to play the game. McGee literally doesn’t know his spots in the offense and defense, and makes no visible effort to improve that.

        That goes beyond immaturity. He thinks he’s great and has no concept of how much his shortcomings hurt the team. He reminds me a lot of John Williams who the Wizards/Bullets drafted in 88 and was considered to be the next “Magic Johnson” but ate his way out of the NBA. JaVale likes his dunks and his blocks, and doesn’t care much about anything else.

  5. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    George will easily be able to find another job..too bad the bobcats hired that coach before he got canned. not like george would want that job anyway though.

  6. patfic15 - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Smear campaign. Karl elevated that team.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      to first round scrubs.

  7. rayburns - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Always a bad sign when the guys who pay the bills think they know how to run the team better than the guys they hire to run the team. So instead of sticking with the guys who can run the team, they go out and hire people who will run the team their way.

    Jerry Jones Syndrome

  8. chrisco716 - Jun 7, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Nuggets management and some Nuggets fans seem to over-optimistically think the Nuggets without Coach Karl will make the NBA finals next year. It seems more likely that the low budget and “no” let me repeat “no” all-star Nuggets will be hard pressed to win 40 games next year and will not make the playoffs. Without Karl it seems OKC, Memphis, San Antonio, GS, Houston and the Clips will all finish ahead of the Nuggets. And perhaps the Lakers, Dallas and Utah will, too. An 8th or 9th place finish seems more likely than a top 3 finish without Karl’s frenetic, fast-paced, fan friendly system that works so well at altitude. With Karl… the Nuggets would win 50 or more again. Without Karl the Nuggets will be hard-pressed to win 40. What Denver management just did would be as if the Moneyball Oakland A’s would have fired Art Howe and Billy Beane for not winning the World Series in 2002. That would have been nuts. What Denver just did letting Ujiri go and firing Karl was nuts.

    • glen907 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      8 first round exits in 9 years, it was time for a change

  9. mazblast - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Karl: I want to win.
    Management: That’s not our philosophy. You’re outta here.

    What Denver’s ownership wants is a mystery to me. George Karl took what he was given and got 57 wins out of a relatively star-free group. In the era of David Stern and star-driven sales of sh**ty merchandise prevailing over actual basketball, I guess the concept of “team ball” isn’t what ownership wants.

  10. drago2012 - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Very few coaches in the NBA are better then George Carl. With McGee starting Denver will win less then 40 games next season. I guess Shaq will have a lot more material for his next season of Shaqtinafool segment!! Javalle will make the top ten spots all by himself!!!

  11. drago2012 - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Very few coaches in the NBA are better then George Karl. With McGee starting Denver will win less then 40 games next season. I guess Shaq will have a lot more material for his next season of Shaqtinafool segment!! Javalle will make the top ten spots all by himself!!!

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