Karl fired: What we know (with reaction!)

What. Just. Happened?

It’s been over 12 hours since news first broke of Karl’s firing and I’m still not entirely convinced this isn’t all some crazed, sports-obsessed dream. After all, I was bedridden yesterday due to food poisoning and I could have sworn I was delusional for at least a few minutes. These things happen, right? People enter trance-like states for extended periods on a regular basis… don’t they? Can someone pinch me? PLEASE?!?!

OK, so perhaps this isn’t a fantasy. After all, the sun did rise in the east and and Spurs did win the first game of the NBA Finals. The universe is (somewhat) in order. Now, there’ll be plenty of time for reaction, opinion, analysis, etc., in the coming days. We intend to bring the heavy stuff to you, as always, but we want to make sure we do it right. Therefore, the facts must be in order. And here’s what we know thus far…

Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news that Karl was fired Thursday morning. He had these things to say regarding the news:

With one year left on his contract, Karl was pushing for an extension and ownership was unwilling to make the commitment. With a sense that Denver could be facing a season of acrimony, CEO Josh Kroenke decided to part ways with Karl.

Denver plans to reach out for permission to speak with Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw immediately, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.

The Nuggets held a team option on Karl’s contract after the 2013-14 season that activating would’ve extended his deal another three years. The organization didn’t want to make the commitment and ultimately didn’t want to deal with a moody Karl throughout next year, sources told Y! Sports.

Nuggets management believes it can attract an elite coach with its talented, young roster.

The Sacramento Kings have requested permission to speak to Denver front office executive Pete D’Alessandro for their open GM job, but Kroenke has yet to grant approval, sources said. The Kroenkes are strongly considering D’Alessandro in an elevated front office role in Denver. It’s expected Josh Kroenke will take an even bigger role in shaping basketball decisions.

Reaction: This sounds like Josh Kroenke’s doing more than anything. He was the one who (it appeared) ultimately let Ujiri go and now he’s the one who (it appears) has let Karl go. Ujiri was tough; Karl was just completely shocking. In only a few years span Josh Kroenke has totally taken a hold of this team. The Nuggets fate is firmly in his hands. Only time will tell whether this is a good or bad thing, but history has repeatedly proven that too much power in one person’s hands is not usually the recipe for collective prosperity. As far as the coaching candidates go — eh. Not encouraging. Shaw is intriguing but I think there are better assistants out there to be had. No thanks on Hollins. The Nuggets do not need more mediocrity; they need greatness. Also, it’s refreshing to know management foresaw Karl as potentially “moody” had he not received another extension. The last thing Karl should be doing, after all his career accomplishments, is getting “moody” because the franchise he’s been with for 10 years didn’t gift-wrap him another extension a year before his current contract expires. It’s about time someone in the Nuggets organization said no to Karl. I just didn’t know “no” and “goodbye” were so closely related.

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein had this to say about the Nuggets-Grizzlies coaching connection:

Screen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.42.07 PM

Reaction: Again — not a fan of this. Lionel Hollins has done a great job in Memphis, but the last thing the Nuggets need to do right now is replace a Hall of Fame coach with a guy who’s had some recent success with a team he should have had recent success with. If the Nuggets want to explore coaching candidates in Memphis they need look no further than assistant Dave Joerger. He’s the supposed architect of Memphis’ stingy defense. Until he came along, Memphis was a pretty average team. He’s been a great coach his whole career, and in my opinion, is the next Tom Thibodeau — only much, much younger. Let’s just put it this way: After making their first Conference Finals appearance in history, the very first thing the Grizzlies did was let teams talk to Lionel Hollins rather than extend him. Now there are already rumors they want Joerger to be the man to replace him. Bing, bang, bong. Just like that, Hollins is on the hot seat and Joerger is in line to replace him. The Grizzlies seem to know something we don’t and it’s that Dave Joerger is the real McCoy.

This line of tweets earlier in the day from former Nuggets beat writer Chris Tomasson is probably my favorite part of this whole story:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.00.07 AMScreen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.59.28 PMScreen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.58.45 PMScreen Shot 2013-06-06 at 11.57.53 PM

Reaction: Remember how excited you got as a kid on Christmas morning? Yeah… that. The things Kroenke has done this summer have been polarizing, completed with a haste that makes you wonder what’s going through his head. But this — this is pure gold. The fact is: The things Karl has always done, that fans have always known are kinda bogus, finally caught up to him. McGee is a certifiable knucklehead, no doubt about it, but he’s also the freakiest athlete in the NBA who’s still incredibly young and capable of maturing into a premier threat in the paint. He was NEVER going to get that opportunity to grow with Karl as head coach. Just look at J.R. Smith if you need further evidence. A few years after leaving Karl’s doghouse, he wins NBA Sixth Man of the Year. There’s no reason to think McGee isn’t in the same boat.

And Andre Miller. Andre freaking Miller. What is there to say? He had one of the most atrocious — no wait, THE MOST ATROCIOUS — postseason efforts I’ve ever seen which capped a perfectly disastrous regular season campaign that forced most Nuggets fans to excessively imbibe during games, yet George Karl thought he was God’s gift to planet Earth! For years Denver management has been too infatuated with regular season wins — after a long history of struggling to obtain them — that challenging Karl on anything likely resulted with a scolding from the future Hall of Famer followed by a week’s worth of thumb sucking while hugging their shins, rocking back and forth in the cold dark. Once again, although fans are likely having a hard time coming to grips with the reigning GM and Coach of the Year departing the franchise in a weeks span (I know I am), you have to admit how refreshing it is to finally have management who understands the game and won’t fall for Karl’s routine gimmicks like previous regimes were so accustomed to doing.

According to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger:

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.27.54 AM

Reaction: Really? REALLY?!? We’re not even a day into the second longest tenured head coach in franchise history having departed and the Nuggets already have “top targets at this point”? I just do not understand this. Why Hollins and Shaw? What have they done to separate themselves from other candidates? There are all kinds of coaches out there to be interviewed and had, yet the Nuggets have already zeroed in on two coaches and made them “top targets”? Taking your time and finding the perfect fit should take priority over a speedy hire 100 times out of 100. And did I mention how not excited I am about Hollins?

More coaching tweets, this time per Sam Amick and Woj: Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.38.34 AM

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 12.36.37 AM

Reaction: Now that’s more like it. It’s nice to see McMillan’s name on the list. He did a great job in Portland, is still fairly young and has a defense-first mentality. Would he be a bad hire? Absolutely not. But would he be the best hire? That’s the question you have to ask yourself if you’re Josh Kroenke. What the Nuggets need right now, more than anything, is some form of long-term stability. McMillan would certainly offer that to some extent, but in an ideal world you should have no doubt that the coach you hire will be with your team just as long as Karl has been during his career with the Nuggets — except unlike Karl, he should understand how to succeed in the postseason.

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Kalen Deremo

Kalen was born in Durango, CO, in 1988 and graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013 with a degree in journalism. He's now an itinerant hoping to travel as much as possible before eventually succumbing to the "real world." Aside from writing Kalen likes movies, music, spicy food and the great outdoors. Edward Abbey is his current idol.

Latest posts by Kalen Deremo (see all)

  • Scott

    The thing I don’t like is all the media outlets and fans from other teams saying we did the worst thing possible and got rid of an “excellent coach” without looking into much. This is the best thing for the FUTURE of the nuggets. Maybe next year we are looking at a low seed or possibly a situation similar to the Mavericks this year where we are good, yet just miss out. However, I believe this will put us on a better path to a championship overall.

    The one question is if this changes Igoudala re signing or not…

    • herpderpnuggets

      he is pivotal to the nuggets success next year

    • Mikey K

      I like the thought of the team looking like the Mavs did this year–have a decent year, but just miss out on a playoff spot. In a loaded draft getting anything in the top 10 would be a good thing. Plus the Knicks should still make the playoffs in a shitty Eastern conference. We get the better of the two and ship the other to Orlando. They can have that 20-something pick from NYK.

  • Qmill30

    Don’t love or hate the firing of Karl. But in the end it intrigues me in a good way.

    I’m excited to see what a new coach and GM can do. Whether it is keeping the core together and having another crack, trading for a star or blowing it up. I don’t mind. As long as there is a clear direction.

    One one hand we have a roster catered to Karl’s style and if it wasn’t for Gallo’s knee who knows what might have been. I mean 57 wins. 57

    But then I totally understand the decision. New regime, new coach. He was a lame duck and there was no reason for extending him. Ultimately it’s best for both sides as we needed a fresh start.

    What I really liked was the “leaked” reasoning for the firing. I agreed with all the points – more javale (And starting), more development of youngsters like fournier in reg season, too much dre. All things that angered fans (including myself) and overshadowed the overall coaching job karl did

    There’s a few things I’d really like to see with a new coach.

    – A defensive coach that can work with javale and live with him making mistakes. Let him learn on the job a bit

    – Less dribble drive, more pick and roll. I think Lawson and iggy are potentially great pick and roll ball handlers but didn’t get enough opportunity. Somebody also needs to teach the bigs how to set picks…

    – More development of youngsters in regular season. 82 games is plenty of time to try things and give youngsters opportunities because they can really pay off in the playoffs (harrison barnes is a great example)

    Not gonna claim to be an expert or anything but from what I’ve heard, Pete D’alessandro makes sense as the future GM. I’m rooting for him.

    In terms of coaches, not crazy about hollins or gentry, extremely intrigued by shaw (everyone seems to love him, apparently “a good fit” – be interesting to hear more about his coaching style) and i’ve always been a nate mcmillan fan

    Anyway it’s gonna be an extremely intriguing offseason.

  • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

    Thank GOD the GK apologists can STFU already.

    Now it’s time
    to bring in
    Chauncey Billups
    to start at PG
    coach the team and
    handle personnel decisions.


    but seriously, glad the team is heading in a MUCH needed new direction.

  • Marcus Williams

    What a terrible move. George Karl took a team of scrubs with no star, and through smoke and mirrors won 57 games. “Talented young roster”? Where? Who? Any good coach would be a fool to come to Denver with this management. Prepare for a long run to the bottom of the standings. I guess nobody will be bitching about losing in the first round, when the team misses the playoffs for the forseeable future.

    • sj

      Scrubs? Iguodala? Lawson? Galo? Faried?
      Admittedly, not superstars, but far from being scrubs, hence the Nuggets listen to trade offers for them fairly regularly.

  • Charliemyboy

    Oh boy. What a shock. I think it was premature. I believe Karl would have adjusted next year w/McGee and Fornier, sans Miller. Guage his extention on his performance. His job w/h/b on the line and he would have had to adjust. Now, there is not a bettter coach available and get ready for 45 wins and no Iggy. Kroenke isn’t thinking about the fans. You know what pain it is to lose; our interest wans and we record the games instead of going to them or watching live. I pray for Karl to get placed right away; he deserves it as a coach and more as a man and person. Insensitive management will defer to the players; they will be uptight. But, that is the NBA… so close this year. Beat everyone (sans Miami), and sometimes decisively, without stars! That is coaching. Crap. Not so excited about next year now.

    • trank

      i agree. this was the first year i could watch all the games (except a few) in 35 years and was getting ready for a great next season. this team was together and psyched and playing the most exciting ball in the league and now it’s easy to imagine years of wall mart crap.

      • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

        the reason you think Karl would have changed is because…wait for it….


        This has been going on for YEARS & if you think that “next year will be different” AGAIN you’re insane.

        • trank

          farried and gallinari injured – YOU HAVEN’T BEEN WATCHING AT ALL

          • http://Twitter.com/A_Rodriguez8 D3Ntilthe3ND

            “this was the first year i could watch all the games (except a few) in 35 years” LOL STOP.

            • trank

              listen to it on radio- you can do other stuff at the same time!

        • Charliemyboy

          Wanna’ bet we’re worse next year? W/Karl we would have been better. Don’t give me this rebuild crap; Karl didn’t. He took what was given him and made it better. You go to Sacramento.

    • Mikey K

      So you’re OK with not going anywhere in the Playoffs but HOME? I know what Josh said in his press conference, but he was lying through his teeth. He just didn’t have the balls to call Karl out on his playoff failures. I love 57 wins in the regular season. I thought that after OKC lost Westbrook, the West was wide open for Denver. We could have taken SA. We beat them in SA and beat them good. Memphis is a tough out, but I think we could have had them too, but Karl panicked when GS went small-ball after losing Lee. He also never planned for Bogut.

      Sorry, the Finals are on and I’d LOVE for them to be here in Denver. I’d love for US to be hosting it all. It wasn’t ever going to happen with GK running the show.

  • trank

    the wall mart–fication of basketball. nuggets need new owners. losing ujiri and karl after one of the best seasons in nuggets history, are some of the stupidest ownership moves in NBA history. i wouldn’t be surprised if the kroenkes brought in coach and gen manager from china to save money they can spend on a jerk like dwight howard. iggy was perfect for this team and now he’ll be gone. a chemistry unselfish team of young players playing the most exciting basketball in the league and now they’ll go out and get a coach that wants to play half court grind ball? this frat boy owner and father are going to want a coach who’s going to follow orders. for those people who wanted GK gone, a guy who finally got a team that could play his kind of game, get ready for kroenke-ball. and how many of those GK haters celebrating now were just pissed off because they recently became nuggets fans cause they were winning and just bet too much? enjoy the next 5 years of wall mart-ball.

  • Ricardo

    George Karl needed to leave. If this team had the right coach, they would have beaten the Warriors in the first-round. First of all, the nuggets have to keep its core together to see how they would do with a new coach next season. If changes have to be made, make them at the trade deadline next February or wait until free agency next year when there are going to be big names on the market.

    • Charliemyboy

      Who is the right coach; and are they interested in Denver? Reality is better than dreams. No big names will make a difference for years.

  • sherlock

    Too many GK apologists/non-nugget fans complaining about firing Karl. We needed a change, yeah 57 was cool, but it all means nothing when you get your ass handed to you by a lower seed in the first round of the playoffs. Had we beat Golden State, Karl likely wouldn’t have gotten fired. But I believe it was pretty obvious GK was out coached by Mark Jackson.

    I think this team is best suited to run, but I think Ty/Fournier/Iggy can LEARN to run when it’s there and set up the offense when it’s not. I def agree that Hollins should NOT be a target, McMillain ehh ok he did some things in Portland. I’d like to see us take a hard run at a Van Gundy. I wouldn’t even mind if we gave Brian Shaw a shot, I think he has a lot to bring to the table, just hasn’t been given the opportunity.

    As an outsider letting the GM of the year go and firing the COY in 2 weeks can look like a mess. It would have been nice to keep Masai, but maybe Kronke learned a lot/had a lot to do with the moves that were made in the last couple years and Masai just got the credit. Karl had to go, love the guy as a man, is a terrific coach, but he was getting in the way of us really moving forward in the West with his favoritism and refusal to admit when he was wrong and making necessary changes.

    • Charliemyboy

      Van Gundy, Shaw; they’re going elsewhere. No one can run like Karl. We’re going backward and not forward. Best option was to keep him a year and give him more years IF he makes it to west finals (sans injuries). Bad decision.

      • Mikey K

        Really? They weren’t coming here because they didn’t dream that GK was going anywhere until after next season at the earliest. Since that’s changed, no way they don’t at least take a look and listen to what Josh has to say.

  • Gregory Houston


    • Mikey K

      For sure we’d need to sign a couple more shooters. We have a lot of wing players, but none that can hit the three with any sort of consistency. That is the key to SVG’s offense. A low post threat that can PASS is also important. Can JaVale develop the court vision to find the open shooter when the D swarms him? For all the knocks on Dwight Howard, he was able to do this when he played for Orlando.

      • Gregory Houston

        Completely agree.

  • Clark

    I know this sounds insane, but how about a couple of years with Larry Brown as coach. He wouldn’t need to be fired, he would move on and he is good at developing young talent. (ducking)

  • Warner Dean

    I think McMillan would be a fantastic fit for this team if management wants to keep the core intact and make a run for a title. If it wants to rebuild then not so much. McMillan and Karl are close friends and McMillan has a great understanding of Karl’s system. I say we keep Karl’s system offensively but add defense. You can have both something similar to what okc does. Our talent isn’t built around a half court offense even though with the right coaching we can play half court when needed unlike under gk. McMillan can do all of this and did a fantastic job in Portland before getting handed a lousy hand of cards with the oden/Roy debacles. McMillan gets my vote lets keeps this team together and get a shooting pg who can backup Ty. Resign iggy and evaluate a chandler trade in February. This team will win 50+ games again next year if we do this.

    • polynikes27

      I think McMillan is a great coach and don’t understand why he doesn’t have a job right now but he would be all wrong for this nuggets roster. McMillan ran the slowest teams in the league during his ‘Blazers years. We have no lowpost threat for grinding out possessions and Lawson and Gallo (will he even play next year?) are the only players that can get their own shot and even they are better attacking a D in transition.

      • ryanvdonk

        nate also ran one of the faster offenses while in seattle…he’s pretty able to work an offense to his teams’ strengths, and has shown success at getting his players to buy in to his defensive schemes (ray allen even became a decent defender under him).

        • polynikes27

          check your stats again every year (with the exception of the year he took over as a interim) his team has ranked in the bottom third in pace, usually in the bottom 3. And those seattle teams were awful on D, they lived and died by the 3 ball. He had much more control in Portland and he did build it into a good D though.

    • Charliemyboy

      I hope they can play half court; depends on JaVale watching Dunkin films and Faried playing defense w/o fouling so he can stay in (and shoot 100 12′ jumps shots every day). All those fabulous stats of points in paint, fast break points, top offensive team; gone. Now, slow down Miller ball? Come on….

  • polynikes27

    Lets look at what has really happened the past week, the Nugs now have a GM that can never be fired (the Jerry Jones mold). Oh yeah he is also the owner although that is a simple bookkeeping designation as he has no resources of his own. He has gotten rid of the two people that everyone in the organization looked to and respected (say what you will about Karl’s in game decisions he was very good at development and overall strategy). I am normally not so pessimistic but I fear the direction of our Nuggets under Josh Kroenke.

  • Evan Woodruff


    • Charliemyboy


  • tigglon

    You can’t win playoffs by not making the playoffs, or arriving at the bottom seeds. That’s exactly what you will get with this roster and any other coach. Come back in a year and tell me I’m wrong.

    This is just corporate-knucklehead idiocy. A land where “doing something” means, for Kroenke, trashing your leaders and scrambling for — well, we can work that out later. He doesn’t know what else to do, but the management self-help book he bought at the mall assured him that’s “doing something.”

  • dynamo.joe

    Don’t buy the hype, Kalen. JR was mediocre this season. He had a hot start from 3 and that perception stuck the whole season.

    What?! JR Smith is a streaky shooter? I know, you’re stunned.

    He was a horrible choice as 6th man and right in line with the results we saw when he was in Denver. A hot start + a big market made JR a ‘star’. It certainly wasn’t his play or the coaching he received.

    • polynikes27

      No Kidding. I like how people use JR and Birdman as knocks against Karl. I will take Faried over Bird anytime (the heat would too) and we just saw JR kill his teams playoff chances by being the player he always was in Denver

  • Native Nugget

    Thank you GK for bringing stability and consistent playoff ball to Denver. Now it’s time to shoot for finals ball. Reading through the posts it seems a lot of people are not looking at Karl’s style of play and the post-season difficulties it presented. If you wanted to make a case for him regularly over-achieving during the season I would agree with you. But anyone trying to make a case for his over-achieving or even being an average coach in the playoffs, has no evidence. Bottom line is Karl is a brilliant basketball mind who would rather lose with small ball and lack of D than win with proven tactics. He simply refuses to play his bigs because it is beneath his high basketball I.Q. to do what any team over the last 30 years of going to the final has done. His need to be unique cost him several series in the playoffs. Say all you want about how you think he would have changed if given another chance… but at least admit his playoff record was subpar though out his career. I put out a challenge a ways back that no one ever took up – name a playoff series in which Karl out coached his opponent?

    Fingers crossed that we get a GM and a coach who are totally aligned on what it take to win the finals – not just get into the playoffs.

    • airvaid

      Seriously when his options at the big positions are JaVale McGee, the nuthead supreme, Koufos who is a hard worker but a limited player and Timofey ‘Dunk on Me’ Mozgov. I don’t blame Karl for playing small.

      • Native Nugget

        Point taken. Though you have to admit JaVale alters a lot of shots and it changes the opposing teams penetration patterns.

        Nugs did well against the Warriors in the game that we went big. I still think Karl refused to play that line up because of a resistance to ‘standard’ NBA playoff strategy. If you really believe Karl would play more bigs based on talent then why didn’t we see more lineups with our taller talent; Gallinari, Faried, Chandler and Igou, playing together at the same time?