In less than a week, the Nuggets have parted ways with the reigning Executive of the Year and now the league's Coach of the Year. Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday that Denver and head coach George Karl have ended their nine-year relationship amid differences on whether Karl would get a contract extension beyond next season.
Karl, who led the Nuggets to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference this season, was informed Thursday morning that he would not be brought back for the final year of his contract. According to Wojnarowski, he had been pushing for a contract extension but the franchise was not ready to give it to him. Rather than deal with what the Nuggets thought would be an unhappy coach over the next year, the decision was made to fire the 62-year-old Karl and management now believes it can attract an elite coach with its current roster, according to the report. The Nuggets plan to immediately reach out for permission to interview Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw.
The news of Karl's firing comes a week after Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri, named this season's Executive of the Year, left for the Toronto Raptors.
For a career, Karl has 1,131 wins as an NBA head coach, (.599 winning percentage). In December 2010, he became only the seventh coach in NBA history to record 1,000 victories.
As Marc Stein of ESPN hints, Karl's firing could shakeout to be a trading of coaches between Memphis and Denver as Hollins could end up with Denver. The Clippers have already expressed an interest in Karl as well, according to Stein, and whether Ujiri tries to recruit the former Nuggets coach to Toronto "remains to be seen."