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?!?!

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Rumor: Karl’s status with Nuggets now “unsettled”

According to ESPNLA.com’s Ramona Shelburne, current Nuggets head coach and reigning NBA Coach of the Year, George Karl, might be on the hot seat. Per Shelburne:

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.

This is somewhat surprising news. Throughout nearly a decade the Nuggets roster has been totally transformed. The front office has repeatedly switched personnel. Yet with each new season George Karl has remained head coach. When Masai Ujiri first came on as general manager of the Nuggets, rumors swirled that he was unhappy with Karl, yet a few months later he inked him to a potential six-year extension. Now, after only several days since Ujiri departed the Nuggets, rumors are again swirling that Karl’s position with the franchise is less than 100 percent secure. Of course, the fact the Clippers recently inquired about Karl certainly helps expedite this speculation; nevertheless, one can’t help but wonder which high-ranking Nuggets officials are more fans of Karl than others.

BREAKING: Masai Ujiri leaving Nuggets for Toronto Raptors

The news Nuggets fans have been dreading for a week straight became a reality Friday afternoon. The Toronto Raptors ongoing pursuit of former Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri is complete with Masai agreeing to a five year deal to become the Raptors’ next general manager.


Woj’s tweet was corroborated a few minutes later by CBS4′s Vic Lombardi, who confirms Ujiri himself has announced he’s out as the Nuggets’GM.


It’s a tough reality for the Nuggets, who now have to start looking forward to an uncertain summer after one of the most successful seasons in franchise history. Obviously we will have a lot more coverage of what this means going forward, but Masai ended up signing the rich deal we all feared a savvy NBA team might offer in order to pry away the executive of the year.

Toronto did what it took to get him and for a hard worker with as humble beginnings as Ujiri, it is major success story. Congratulations to Masai.

UPDATE: The Nuggets have released a statement regarding Masai Ujiri. Team president Josh Kroenke announced a search for a new executive and the departing Masai Ujiri offers a few quotes as well. Read the full text on the Nuggets official website here.

Los Angeles Clippers Eyeing George Karl?

In the midst of the agonizing Masai Ujiri drama Nuggets fans are forced to endure, reports have surfaced that the Los Angeles Clippers have taken notice of none other than Denver head coach George Karl. After getting rid of Vinny Del Negro, the Clippers are looking for a new head coach, and while Karl is not at the top of the team’s wish list, they are allegedly considering asking the Nuggets for permission to talk with Karl.

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Link: Ujiri likely to leave Nuggets, says Wojnarowski

What started off as a bad dream has now morphed into a nightmare. According to Yahoo!Sports.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “significant momentum has gathered that likely will lead to Ujiri’s departure from the franchise that he completely remade into a Western Conference contender.” Though nothing is final, it appears that unless a drastic turn of events occurs, the current NBA Executive of the Year and Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri will be taking his talents north of the border to Toronto. If you had one set of fingers already crossed, now’s the time to double up.

Is Ujiri on the brink of leaving Denver?

Earlier today Yahoo!Sports.com’s Adrien Wojnarowski reported the Nuggets ownership granted the Raptors permission to speak with Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri in Denver. In his article Woj states that, “Unless Denver responds soon with a market-value contract extension to keep its general manager, Ujiri is prepared to leave Denver,” and how, “Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke is aggressively pursuing Ujiri to become the Raptors’ general manager.”

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Raptors eyeing Ujiri for GM vacancy?

As was first reported by Yahoo!Sports.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Toronto Raptors are targeting Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri for their vacant GM position after having dismissed Bryan Colangelo earlier this week. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Raptors are more than willing to make Ujiri one of the top paid executives in the league at over $2 million per year. Stein also claims Denver’s front office is confident in its ability to re-sign Ujiri to a new deal. Ujiri was rumored to be the lowest paid GM in the NBA under his previous deal that expired this year.

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Nuggets news from Day 1 at the NBA Draft Combine

For NBA Draft junkies like me, the annual Draft Combine is the commencement of a nonstop obsession for about a month each summer. Although the Combine doesn’t present the ideal opportunity for scouting, there are still an assortment of minor details revealed about teams, players and the intentions of both that can prove invaluable during pre-draft analysis. Here is what I learned regarding the Nuggets from the first day of the Combine.

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Iguodala snubbed from NBA All-Defensive teams

All-Defensive teams have been a joke for a while now. They’re more a popularity contest than a real measuring stick of who the best defenders in the NBA really are. In this sense, it shouldn’t be surprising that Andre Iguodala has been left of the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team. But leaving him off the All-Defensive Second Team as well? That just seems… well… fitting, given how completely inept voters are with this “honor.” But it’s also unfortunate and unjustified. Iguodala changed the way the Nuggets defended this year and was a big reason his team finished with the best regular season record in franchise history. Naturally, Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri was quite perturbed by the announcement and recently let off some steam to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post.

Members of the All-Defensive First Team include: LeBron James, Serge Ibaka, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Tony Allen and Chris Paul. Members of the All-Defensive Second Team include: Tim Duncan, Paul George, Marc Gasol (even though he won Defensive Player of the Year), Avery Bradley and Mike Conley.

It’s official: Masai Ujiri named 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year

UPDATE: Just minutes after posting this, it was announced on the official Denver Nuggets Twitter feed (@DenverNuggets) that Ujiri has officially won the Executive of the Year award. More details at Nuggets.com here.

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Benjamin Hochman (@nuggetsnews) of DenverPost.com has reported that just on the heels of George Karl winning Coach of the Year, Masai Ujiri will also receive a prestigious NBA honor by being named 2012-13 NBA Executive of the Year: (more…)

Karl wins 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year award

After a historic 57-win season including a franchise record 15 straight wins, George Karl has become the recipient of the Red Auerbach Trophy for 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year. Karl received 62 first place votes followed by the Miami Heat’s Eric Spoelstra with 24. Mike Woodson and Greg Popovich finished third and fourth respectively. Karl becomes the second Nuggets coach in history to win this award after Doug Moe took home the honors in 1987-88.

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Anthony Randolph busts the zone

There’s been some recent chatter about getting Anthony Randolph more involved in this first round series with Golden State, and for good reason. The agile 7-footer is actually Denver’s fifth-leading scorer in this series with 16 points in just 16 total minutes.

Randolph came on strong towards the end of the season, where he was a great source of paint points and rebounds when Faried went down. His defense, however, is inconsistent at best and Randolph is prone to forcing up bad shots and falling apart on the offensive end. Because JaVale McGee suffers from a lot of the same stuff and neither one of them can pass, it’s tough to bring both off the bench and George Karl has avoided even messing with it for most of the season.

With Golden State switching to guerilla tactics after the David Lee injury, this series is now small ball all the time and Randolph may have found himself a niche role against the Warriors zone defense, which they’ve favored for important stretches of the first two games.

Here are just a few examples of how Randolph has demonstrated his ability to successfully attack the zone.
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Adjustments, adversity await Nuggets in Game 3

There are two ways to look at the Nuggets’ current 1-1 series tie to the Golden State Warriors. The cheery narrative gives a convenient regular-season excuse for Denver’s familiar playoff woes – it’s only one game, blowouts happen, and losing home-court advantage while squeeking out a 1-1 split really isn’t that bad.

It’s too bad this isn’t the regular season anymore.

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Lee out for remainder of series, Landry likely to see spike in minutes

According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Warriors forward David Lee will miss the remainder of the season with a torn right hip flexor. While nobody likes to see players seriously injured, it’s difficult to ignore how beneficial this is to the Nuggets’ chances of defeating the Warriors in the first round.

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Playoff positioning thread

As we speak the Nuggets are currently in third place in the Western Conference standings. But both the Clippers and Grizzlies are right on their heels. As Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post recently pointed out on Twitter, if the Nuggets win against the Suns tonight then the three seed is all theirs. There are all sorts of different playoff match-up possibilities still up in the air at this point, so please feel free to use this post as a thread to discuss these scenarios. And as always, thanks for continuing to support Roundball Mining Company.

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