On Thursday, Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Denver Nuggets had fired coach George Karl, shockingly just months after he had been voted the NBA’s Coach of the Year. That move, paired with former Nugget general manager (and 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year) Masai Ujiri’s jump to the same job in Toronto, seems wildly inappropriate for a Denver team that had just enjoyed its best season as a member of the NBA.
Luckily, Adrian Wojnarowski is here to provide further explanation:
If the Memphis Grizzlies lose coach Lionel Hollins as head coach over the offseason, the NBA could go into 2013-14 with 12 new head coaches on its sideline. In a vacuum, this may look like some sort of blight on the league, but this is just how these things work. Contexts change, and sometimes the best coach in the league in that particular year isn’t quite right for a particular ballclub.
It’s just fine that the 2012-13 Coach of the Year isn’t quite right for the 2013-14 Denver Nuggets, even if the team goes into that year with basically the same roster that Karl led to 57 wins this season. And Denver’s ownership, especially after refusing to pay Ujiri a competitive rate (or, to put it another way, a rate he deserved) while eating the final year of Chris Andersen and George Karl’s contracts, may look like they’re playing Tiddlywinks with what could have been a very good team.
In their eyes, they’re prepping for a transitional year, one that could see injured forward Danilo Gallinari out for an extended period of time, and they didn’t want to work with Karl’s contract status looming over the team throughout 2013-14. Award or no award, it’s just fine that the Nuggets owners didn’t want to commit to Karl past 2014 with so much uncertainty around, and they feel that a suitable replacement could still turn out a playoff appearance in 2013-14 while they attempt to steady the house.
That doesn’t mean this isn’t a punch to the gut of both Nugget fans, NBA observers like Trey Kerby …
So, since April 6 of this year, the Nuggets have lost one of their best players to an ACL injury, a first round playoff series that they were favored to win, the reigning Executive of the Year and the reigning Coach of the Year. Pretty rough couple of months, especially coming on the heels of their most successful regular season since joining the NBA. Cruel summer.
… and players like Kenneth Faried …
So we lost a GM now a coach what's next!?
— Kenneth Faried (@KennethFaried35) June 6, 2013
… and Ty Lawson:
In a text message, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said, "All of this is crazy and unexpected, don't know what to say." — Benjamin Hochman (@nuggetsnews) June 6, 2013
At least the team still has Rocky.