Under George Karl a few years back, the Denver Nuggets ran their way to 57 wins (and might have done some serious playoff damage if Danilo Gallinari had stayed healthy). Then management decided to let Karl go and turn to a more traditional, defensive guy in Brian Shaw. However, they never significantly changed the roster to fit the change of plans and coach. The result was a disaster. Denver won 30 games last season.
Now they want to run again.
That means a new coach. And while long-time Denver assistant and interim coach Melvin Hunt remains the frontrunner, the Nuggets reached out and spoke with Mike D’Antoni about the job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Mike D’Antoni met with Denver Nuggets management to discuss the franchise’s head coaching opening, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Denver general manager Tim Connelly conducted a sit-down with D’Antoni in California on Tuesday, league sources said. D’Antoni’s vaunted running game fits into Denver’s determination that it wants to play faster in the future. Melvin Hunt, the interim coach in the wake of Brian Shaw’s firing, remains a strong contender to retain the full-time job, league sources said.
Along with D’Antoni and Hunt, ex-Sacramento Kings coach Michael Malone has had conversations with Connelly and could soon emerge with a sit-down interview, league sources said.
While Mike D’Antoni has his detractors — a lot of them living in Los Angeles — the fact of the matter is his offensive system can win and can work. Both Gregg Popovich and Eric Spoelstra borrowed from what he did in Phoenix, and those two guys have the last three NBA titles.
But while those two adapted the system, D’Antoni is wed to winning his way, fitting players into his system. That helped lead to the mess in Los Angeles, where he was handed a roster that was ill fitting for what he wanted to do but was slow to adapt.
Denver has a good point guard in Ty Lawson, they have a quality stretch four in Gallinari, they have some pieces to make D’Antoni’s system work. But are they fully committed to it? If not, better to go another direction. Like the respected Hunt.
I also am a fan of Mike Malone. Another coach who did a good job building a culture (then was fired because the owner wanted a faster team), a guy who deserves another chance. But Malone is about defense and deliberate play. Hire him and Denver needs to revamp the roster.
What kind of team does Denver management want? Answer that, and then get a coach and players to make it work. Then stick with the plan.