George Karl is starting another coaching stint in the NBA right where his last one ended.
Hired by the Nuggets, Karl makes his debut against the team that fired him two years ago when the Nuggets visit the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.
Karl spent five seasons in Milwaukee before he was fired in 2003, interrupting his 16-year coaching stint in the NBA, which also includes stops in Cleveland, Golden State and Seattle. He is the league’s 13th winningest coach with a 708-499 record.
“We are very excited to be adding a coach of George’s stature to our organization,” Denver general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said in a statement. “He has won everywhere he has been and his track record speaks for itself.”
Karl takes over a Denver team that is 12 1/2 games out of first place in the Northwest Division after making its first playoff appearance in nine years last season.
Jeff Bzdelik, who helped the Nuggets end their postseason drought, was fired on Dec. 28, and the team went 4-10 under interim coach Michael Cooper, who will stay on as one of Karl’s assistants.
Karl helped Seattle reach the playoffs in 1991-92 after a 20-20 start cost coach K.C. Jones his job, and led the Sonics to three 60-win seasons in five years, including a trip to the 1996 NBA Finals.
“He’s clearly one of the best coaches in the NBA, has always been so and his record exhibits that,” Vandeweghe added.
Known to be feisty and confrontational, Karl has had clashes with players in the past, particularly in Milwaukee, but always seems to get the best out of them.
“I feel pretty confident that I’m going to be better because of what happened in Milwaukee,” said Karl, who worked as an ESPN analyst after being fired by the Bucks. “Hopefully, I’m an intelligent being who will learn from the mistakes that we made here.”
The Nuggets are 0-3 on their five-game road trip, including an 87-70 loss to the defending NBA champion Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
Reserve Earl Boykins scored a team-high 14 points for Denver. Marcus Camby had 10 points and 14 rebounds after missing the previous game with a sprained left ankle. Star forward Carmelo Anthony managed a season-low five points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Anthony combined for 46 points on 52 percent shooting (17-for-33) in his previous two games.
The Bucks had won three of four before losing 121-115 at home to the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
The Bucks have won six of their last eight home meetings with the Nuggets.