Video Interview with Coby Karl

I caught up with Coby Karl following the Timberwolves win over Cleveland Cavaliers at the Las Vegas Summer League. I’ve always admired Coby as a player and he’s been one of the most professional guys I’ve talked to in Las Vegas. He was kind enough to chat with Roundball Mining Company on playing overseas, the Timberwolves, his relationship with George and more. Many thanks to Coby for interviewing with us.

Denver Nuggets Announce Summer League Roster

The Denver Nuggets 2010 Summer league team  is headlined by Ty Lawson and Coby Karl.  Former Colorado Buffalo star shooting guard Richard Roby, who is also Kenyon Martin’s half brother, is on the roster as is late season addition center Brian Butch.  Othello Hunter is an athletic big man who moves well and played a few games with the Atlanta Hawks over the past two seasons.  Dontaye Draper is a talented, but undersized point guard who has played for the Nuggets in Vegas before.  With Anthony Carter once again a free agent perhaps Draper has a chance to get an invite to camp this fall.

No.

Player

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Birthdate

School/Country

Exp.

13

Antonio Anderson

G

6-6

215

6/5/85

Memphis

1

43

Brian Butch

C

6-11

240

12/22/84

Wisconsin

R

10

Dontaye Draper

G

5-11

180

8/10/84

College of Charleston

R

7

Shane Edwards

F

6-7

220

5/31/87

Arkansas-Little Rock

R

34

Laurence Ekperigin

F

6-7

235

2/21/88

Le Moyne College

R

14

Brian Hamilton

F

6-6

205

5/14/82

Louisiana-Lafayette

R

12

Othello Hunter

F

6-8

225

5/28/86

Ohio State

2

22

Coby Karl

G

6-5

215

3/6/83

Boise State

2

3

Ty Lawson

G

5-11

195

11/3/87

North Carolina

1

8

Richard Roby

G

6-6

200

9/28/85

Colorado

R

Anticipating Victory for the Karl Family

As a father of two, I know how special even the most minor accomplishment or achievement your child might enjoy is. Conversely, every bump on the head or skinned knee feels like a tragedy. Most parents pour their soul into their children and that amount of investment is incalculable. I can only imagine how that sense of investment and connection is amplified after the difficulties George Karl and Coby Karl have shared together.

The addition of Coby to the Nuggets will undoubtedly provide George Karl with a tremendous mental, physical and emotional boost. As significant as that is to the recovery of a cancer patient and the ability for his son to be near him during this difficult time they can both draw satisfaction from the fact that Coby Karl was not brought to Denver as an elixir to treat his father’s broken body.

Coby is a very good basketball player and deserves to be in the NBA. He may not be a great athlete. You will never see Coby in a dunk contest, nor will there ever be highlights on SportsCenter where he breaks an opponents’ ankles. The man can simply play basketball and we saw a glimpse of that ability in his impressive performance in the Las Vegas Summer League as well as his time in the D-League and for a few games with the Golden State Warriors.

His many talents consist of the ability to shoot out to the three point line, he takes care of the ball and is smart as you would expect the son of a coach should be. He is nearly always in the right place at the right time and is a very adept passer. He is probably not a player a contending team would want starting for 82 games, at least not yet. However, he is a player who will give his all and do whatever his team needs him to.

While both George and Coby would probably like this to be a basketball story, as we saw in the emotional scene just off the 18th hole in Augusta, Georgia on Sunday, sometimes sport has a way of combining excellence on the field of competition with inspiration off of it.

I do not know how long Coby will play for Denver, or what his father’s future is with the organization. I do know we are fortunate to witness one of those rare occurrences where a sport can help provide victory and strength to people who are hurting. Hopefully the result is spectacular both on the court and off.

Denver Nuggets Resign Johan Petro

The Denver Nuggets have made another smart signing as it was announced today that they have resigned Johan Petro. There has been no word of what the contract terms are, but I would guess that it is a one or two year deal starting at the five year veteran’s minimum salary of $959,111.

The Nuggets have done a very good job of managing their payroll this offseason. No one is going to write a book about Denver’s 2009 offseason although I cannot fault them for anything they have done. Today’s signing of Petro is the perfect example of developing a plan and then executing it.

Early in the summer the Nuggets had to decide whether or not they would extend a qualifying offer (QO) of just under $2.85 million to Petro. All of us knew at the time he was not worth that much, but the Nuggets really needed to have a player like Petro, a legit seven footer who can bang in the paint, on the roster. Denver could have done the safe thing and given Petro the QO. No team was going to top it and it would have guaranteed that Petro would return to Denver although at an overinflated price tag.

Instead of wasting money and as recommended here they made the calculated decision to allow Petro to become a free agent and take the risk that someone would offer him a little more money. I thought it seemed like the right thing to do and the gamble has paid off. Denver will retain Petro’s services at nearly only a third of the cost of his QO.

In addition to the savings they earned with Petro they have also resigned Chris Andersen at a very reasonable first year salary, replaced Dahntay Jones with the cheaper and more talented Arron Afflalo and instead of meeting Linas Kleiza’s salary wishes they are likely to replace him with the cheaper and more sound Wally Szczerbiak.

That is good business and that is how you build a sustainable salary structure. The transactions Denver has made are not front page news, but they are crafty and full of basketball wisdom.

Looking ahead the signing now opens up two questions, will Malik Allen be relegated to the bench and will Coby Karl be in training camp?

Last season the Nuggets had primarily a three man rotation between power forward and center with Nene, Kenyon Martin and Birdman. Linas Kleiza and Renaldo Balkman received the bulk of the remaining minutes at power forward. Before Petro was retained it appeared the Nuggets may have been planning on playing Allen as much as ten minutes a night. Petro is fully capable of filling that role and all three of the Nuggets other front court players can play power forward both offensively and defensively should they be on the floor with Petro. I suspect Petro will make Allen superfluous in the rotation, which I believe is a good thing.

From a roster standpoint Petro’s return may reduce Summer League Fan Favorite Coby Karl’s chances of coming to Denver. The Nuggets are only one player away from hitting the 13 player minimum roster requirement and as mentioned above that spot seems destined to go to Szczerbiak. I assume Karl the Elder will know if Stan Kroenke is willing to foot the bill for a fourteenth player or not. The answer to that question will determine if Coby is in Denver this fall.

Karl the Younger is undoubtedly an NBA player and will go to a team’s camp where he has a great chance to make the team. If Karl the Elder knows the Nuggets will not sign a fourteenth player Karl the Younger will go elsewhere, but if Karl the Younger is brought into Nuggets camp then I think that is a good sign that the Nuggets will carry a fourteenth player, at least to start the season, and Coby will be that fourteenth warm body.

The 2009-10 roster and rotation are taking shape and even though the Nuggets have not done anything dramatic, I think they are executing their offseason plans beautifully.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Denver Nuggets Summer League Report

I finally was able to finish watching the last three summer league games for the Denver Nuggets and I think Nuggets fans should be very pleased. The one player on the summer league team who will be in the 2009-10 rotation played very well.

Even though Ty Lawson did not shoot the ball well in his first two games, highlighted by the numerous rejections he suffered near the rim, I thought he did everything else well. Little did I know that it would only take him two games to adjust to the increased size and athleticism of the summer league.

Lawson continued to control the tempo, make great decisions and play solid defense. He also greatly reduced the number of shots he had blocked by using his body to create contact with a potential shot blocker to get his shot off, using a little floater in the lane and he also became more creative as evidenced by a beautiful reverse layup he made after jumping from the left side of the rim and scoring on the right side. In addition to that he started taking, and making, more jumpers. The result was a combined shooting percentage of 57.1% on two point attempts and 60.0% on threes.

The one thing you hate to see is a quick player who can shoot. If you lay off he will kill you with the jumper, however, if you come out on him, it is even easier for him to drive past you. Lawson accentuated that defensive conundrum by showing off a great pump fake to get his man in the air. He used it several times and it worked every time. The only person who even had a chance to keep Lawson out of the lane was Jerryd Bayless of Portland who did a pretty good job on Lawson in game three. Still Ty posted 26 points on 11-16 from the floor and tallied five assists.

I also loved seeing the accuracy on his passes up the floor. Nuggets players love to launch a three quarter court pass about five feet too high, but Lawson connected perfectly on nearly all of his attempts to get the ball ahead to a teammate.

He also reduced his turnovers from four in the first game to two or fewer over the next four contests.

As I mentioned in my review of games one and two, we cannot draw hard and fast conclusions from five summer league games, but if you combine what we knew about him during his three seasons at Chapel Hill and now in summer league, I think we can be assured that Lawson will be a very good efficient backup point guard. You can see his intelligence and experience in the ways he does little things such as drift to one side of the floor or the other based on where he expects the rebound to come off the rim in order to be in position to receive the outlet pass. His intelligence is off the charts and I love how he was able to adapt to the talent and athleticism of the competition after only two games.

Sonny Weems showed just enough to entice us for what may come in the future. His best shooting performance was a 10-23 (43.4%) night in game five that brought his overall shooting percentage up to 32.6%. He also shot poorly from the three point line dropping onto three of his fifteen attempts (20.0%).

Sonny never made the adjustment to use his talents to set up his teammates when his shot was not falling and he continued to force his offense throughout the five games never attempting fewer than 15 shots. He averaged slightly more than one shot for every two minutes he was on the floor. That is a little too aggressive and as George Karl said when he was interviewed during game five, Weems does not recognize the difference between a good shot and a bad one. He can get his own shot whenever he wants, but settled for a contested midrange jumper far too often.

His defense was very up and down. You could see how good he could be on occasion when he would come out of a time out or a quarter break and really play strong focused defense. Unfortunately that focus came and went. His biggest weakness is getting around picks. Instead of fighting over them he tries to slide around them as if attempting to avoid contact. By the time he would clear a screen and be ready to recover his man was usually already in the lane if not at the rim.

I had hopes that Weems could play the role of providing scoring off the bench, but he is clearly not ready to fill that role. If he is the third option on the floor and the defense is not keying on him, he could be effective and he showed he was much more accurate on catch and shoot opportunities than shooting off the dribble, as most players are.

Even with his shortcomings, he is an intriguing talent and I think he is just a year or two away from being a good NBA player.

The other player I really enjoyed watching was Coby Karl. He is a player who can do everything. He is a very good passer, can handle the ball, knows where to be and when he needs to be there and he can shoot. Karl converted on 61.5% of his shots and made half of his 16 three point attempts. His points per shot is off the charts. He scored 19 points on seven shots in game one, ten points on four shots in game two, 16 points on six shots in game three, 11 points on nine shots in game four and 19 points on 13 shots in game five. Do the math and the result is an astounding 1.92 points per shot. Put him on the floor with players like Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Nene and he will drain open shots all day long.

Defensively he is a little slow laterally, but his understanding of how to play defense somewhat compensates for his lack of speed. Add in the fact that he does not fall asleep on his man or his help responsibilities and he will not kill you defensively.

He plays hard every second he is on the floor and always provides some positive benefit. I do not care what it looks like to have his dad as coach. I want him on the regular season roster.

Looking at the other players, I mentioned C.J. Giles previously as an active shot blocker and athletic defender. I do not think he has NBA talent, but he is right on the borderline. I could see him getting a chance to show what he can do in camp. Ronald Dupree did his best Dahntay Jones impersonation. He is an aggressive defender and showed he can score at the rim. His jumper is creaky and he would provide little help on offense. Still, he plays hard and can play defense. I would not be surprised if the Nuggets brought him into camp. Derrick Byars passes the eyeball test, he is a solid athlete and has good size for a long range sniper. However, he is pretty one dimensional and does not offer much more than long range shooting although he is a decent defender for a shooter. I doubt he will be invited to camp.

The only player I have not mentioned yet that I thought played well was Dontaye Draper. He is small, but plays hounding defense. He also pushed the pace well and shot the ball well (50.0% overall and 40.0% on threes), although he did so on a very small number of attempts. I thought he ran the team well and took his shots in the flow of the offense. His stature will probably keep him out of the NBA, but if the Nuggets do not bring Anthony Carter back, I could see them bringing Draper into camp to provide depth for practices.

With the early progress Lawson displayed, the potential of Weems and the gritty efficiency of Karl I think the Nuggets could have three solid players who are on the regular season roster off this summer league squad. For a team with a solid veteran core, it is important to find players to fill out the roster and I think there is a good chance they have accomplished that in Las Vegas.

Update: Interview with Lawson following the final summer league game on NBA.com.