Report: George Karl’s status in Denver up in the air following GM’s departure to Raptors

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The Nuggets finished with the best home record in the league last season, and won 57 games which was enough to get them the three seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They ran into a Warriors team that did what they do only better, especially after Danilo Gallinari, one of Denver’s two best offensive players, was lost near the end of the regular season due to a torn ACL injury.

Still, it meant another first round loss in Denver. And despite the regular season success, it’s been the norm for a franchise which has only advanced past the first round of the playoffs once in the last 10 seasons.

There’s no question that George Karl is a great coach, and he definitely overachieved with the Nuggets a season ago. But with the departure of general manager Masai Ujiri to the Raptors, and with Karl entering the final year of his contract in Denver next season, suddenly we have an interesting situation developing regarding the Nuggets and their head coach.

From Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles:

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl’s status has become “unsettled” following the departure of general manager Masai Ujiri for the Toronto Raptors, two sources close to the situation said late Saturday night.

Karl, who was named the NBA’s coach of the year following the Nuggets’ 57-win season, is not in any imminent danger of losing his job, the sources stressed. But Ujiri’s departure, coupled with Denver’s disappointing first-round playoff exit, has shaken things up in Denver to the point that Karl, who is under contract for just one more season, could, incredibly, begin the season on the hot seat after winning the league’s top coaching honor for the first time in his long career, instead of beginning extension talks.

While the Nuggets may not have wanted to pay Ujiri the amount of money over the amount of years that the Raptors were willing to, they have to have known that there would be consequences in letting him jump.

Karl is no stranger to the coaching game, having been doing it for the past 25 years, and he’s been the head man in Denver for the last nine. But should the uncertainty there reach an extremely high level, Karl may wish to explore other options — one of which might be a very enticing situation in Los Angeles with the Clippers.

The ESPN L.A. report mentions that the Clippers have had initial talks with the Nuggets regarding Karl, but have not yet formally requested permission to speak with him.