George Karl led Denver to the playoffs nine years in a row. (Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
The NBA's Coach of the Year is out of a job.
The Nuggets continued their offseason shakeup Thursday by parting ways with coach George Karl after nine seasons, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports and later made official via press release from the team. The news comes just days after Denver lost its general manager, Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri, to the Raptors.
Karl, 62, was named Coach of the Year last month after leading the Nuggets to their best NBA season in franchise history. But Yahoo! Sports reported that Nuggets ownership wasn't ready to fulfill Karl's request for a contract extension, and the team didn't want an "unhappy" Karl serving out the last year of his contract in 2013-14.
Of course, the prologue to this decision does not merely include Ujiri's exit. After winning 57 games and earning the third seed in the Western Conference, the Nuggets lost to the underdog Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. Denver was outplayed and outcoached over the course of the six-game series, and Karl in particular drew blame for the defeat.
Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried tweeted his reaction to the Yahoo! Sports report about Karl:
Nuggets reserve Quincy Miller also responded to the news:
According to Yahoo! Sports, the timing of Karl's release is no accident, as the Nuggets are set to contact the Grizzlies about coach Lionel Hollins (whose contract with Memphis expires June 30) and the Pacers about assistant Brian Shaw. Both have been linked to various coaching vacancies and are very much in demand after deep playoff runs.
Karl, meanwhile, is already atop the Grizzlies' list of potential replacements for Hollins, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, and has drawn some interest from the Clippers as well. A source told Grantland's Zach Lowe that Karl will not reunite with Ujiri in Toronto this summer.
Karl took over as Denver coach in the middle of the 2004-05 season. He went 423-257 with the Nuggets and led them to the playoffs all nine seasons. But Denver advanced in the postseason only once, in 2009, when the team made the conference finals.
He has also coached Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle and Milwaukee. Karl is 1,131-756 in 25 seasons as an NBA coach.
Along with their front-office and coaching overhaul, the Nuggets also face important decisions with their roster. Two players who had prominent roles this season, Andre Iguodala
(who is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract) and Corey Brewer
, are set to become free agents.