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The Denver Nuggets have fired George Karl, the NBA's Coach of the Year, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
With one year left on his contract, Karl was pushing for an extension and ownership was unwilling to make the commitment. With a sense that Denver could be facing a season of acrimony, CEO Josh Kroenke decided to part ways with Karl.
Denver plans to reach out for permission to speak with Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw immediately, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
Denver will be competing with the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers for those candidates.
For Kroenke, this was a bold move for the franchise, but multiple sources said that Karl had been so unhappy about going into the final year of his contract without a new deal that things could've become untenable with him.
The Nuggets held a team option on Karl's contract after the 2013-14 season that activating would've extended his deal another three years. The organization didn't want to make the commitment and ultimately didn't want to deal with a moody Karl throughout next year, sources told Y! Sports.
Nuggets management believes it can attract an elite coach with its talented, young roster.
With the departure of GM Masai Ujiri to Toronto, Denver will be starting over with its front office and coaching leadership. Ujiri will not consider Karl for the Toronto coaching job in the near or distant future, league sources said.
The Sacramento Kings have requested permission to speak to Denver front office executive Pete D'Alessandro for their open GM job, but Kroenke has yet to grant approval, sources said. The Kroenkes are strongly considering D'Alessandro in an elevated front office role in Denver. It's expected Josh Kroenke will take an even bigger role in shaping basketball decisions.
[Related: Was George Karl's firing in Denver justified? ]
The timing of his ouster gives Karl a chance to get involved with other head coaching openings, including those with the Clippers, Grizzlies and possibly Nets.
Denver won 57 games and earned a third seed in the Western Conference playoffs. A key injury to forward Danilo Gallinari helped derail the Nuggets in a first-round series loss to Golden State.
After completing his ninth season with the Nuggets, Karl, 62, has 1,131 victories as an NBA head coach, including a .599 winning percentage.
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