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George Karl Ousted As Nuggets Coach; Analysis

Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

In one of the more surprising moves of the offseason, the Denver Nuggets have fired longtime head coach George Karl, who had one year left on his contract. The team president announced his decision on Thursday morning.

“George has been an instrumental part of our success over the past decade, and we appreciate everything he did to keep us among the top teams in the Western Conference. He is a Hall of Fame coach whose legacy in Denver will last for years to come. George is a legend in the game of basketball and I could not have more respect for him as a person and coach.”

The news comes on the heels of Karl winning the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award after guiding the Nuggets to a franchise-record 57-25 record and a No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoff race. The team unfortunately lost one of their leading scorers in forward Danilo Gallinari to a torn ACL. The four-year pro posted 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game two weeks before the start of the postseason. It was one of the key reasons why Denver was outed in the first-round playoff series by the No. 6-seed Golden State Warriors in six games.

Before the 2012-13 season started, Karl was seeking an extension with the Nuggets, but the ownership wasn’t able to commit to a long-term deal. Karl had been the head coach since the start of the 2004-05 season. Denver has only surpassed the first round of the playoffs once during his tenure (a 2009 Conference Finals appearance).

After the firing, Karl tweeted: “I want to thank Nuggets fans for their support over the past 8 yrs. The karma on the street was incredible. Denver will always be home.”

Consequently, the Nuggets have targeted two primary candidates for their head coaching vacancy: Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw, according to sources.

Meanwhile, many have speculated that Karl could be linked to the Los Angeles Clippers coaching job.

Analysis: It’s hard to see the Nuggets playing any better ball during the regular season without Karl leading the front. He’s been a pure mastermind for a team without a crucial superstar. Denver plays better “team ball” than most other NBA teams and were only ousted from the playoffs due to an untimely injury to Gallinari.

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