In one sense, George Karl is just like Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin and JR Smith — who knows if they will be back with the Nuggets next season.
Except Karl is for a refreshingly non-monetary reason, as he told the Associated Press before the game. It’s all about his health.
“At the end of the year, if my health is more important, then I’ll walk away from the game of basketball,” Karl said. “I’m not saying that’s what I want. But I’m not saying that I haven’t thought about that more than any time in my life.
“So, I don’t think (what the front office decides) matters a lot to me, because as much as they’re evaluating me and what they want to do with me, I’m probably evaluating what I want to do with me….”
“I mean, would I bet on me not coaching? I wouldn’t bet on me not coaching. I think I’m going to be coaching,” Karl said. “But there’s still a lot of steps. There’s some hurdles I’ve got to jump through, there’s some hoops I’ve got to jump through.
“I’m fired up. I think I’ve got great people behind me. I’ve got great support, the spirit of karma of what’s going on in my life has been a blessing. So, I’m feeling pretty good about my chances. But in the same sense, there is some things about stress and getting your immune system working the right way that has been brought to my attention.”
Karl returned to the bench this season after missing the second half of last season with throat cancer. He is a two-time cancer survivor and this season his perspective on the game and coaching seems different. He has clearly tried to keep the stress down, a Sisyphean task for an NBA coach.
All of it — the health, the family, the love of what he does — carries over to whether or not he comes back or not, regardless of the makeup of the team.
And regardless of being contenders or rebuilding, the Nuggets would be better off with him on the bench. Providing he wants to be there.