Denver won 57 games, were the three seed in the West, and go into next season with one of the most promising young rosters in the league. Things are looking up. Because he’d helped construct a balanced, attacking, up-tempo system and team out of the parts that came back in the Carmelo Anthony trade, George Karl was named the NBA Coach of the Year for 2013.
Twenty-nine days later he was fired.
On his conversation with team president Josh Kroenke upon being fired: “Josh was nice and complimentary, said he’d honor my contract and the coaches. The conversation was on the decision, and I said, ‘I think I should tell you, I think it’s very stupid.’ And since then, I don’t understand it….
“I think it was a special season because of the connection this team has with each other and with the coaching staff and with the city. The fans like this team. The staff likes each other. And to blow up that connection is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful to coaching.”
The difference in philosophy was around Karl wanting to win games and Kroenke and management wanting to see more of the team’s young players on the court for development reasons. Even if that meant a loss or two.
At the heart of all of that was JaVale McGee — he signed a four-year, $44 million contract last summer but Karl didn’t think he was ready and started Kosta Koufos. McGee can be brilliant one possession, then play confused 15 year-old the next. But management invested big in him and wants him developed. Coaches on the other hand don’t trust inconsistency.
“We won 57 wins and are in a great place. Continuity, consistency, togetherness all are so much more valuable than they have on their priority list than playing JaVale McGee or the young players….
“And I never had a meeting where that disappointment (about the rotations), in that part of it, was voiced to me. I never had that meeting. I heard through whispers. I’m sorry that 57 wins doesn’t make you happy.”
Well then, how do you really feel?
Karl is interviewing with Memphis next Monday. The Nuggets are reportedly targeting Brian Shaw and Lionel Hollins.