Yes I said it, the Nuggets have overtaken the Rockies as the worst run organization in Colorado sports. George Karl was fired after eight seasons with the Nuggets and now (gulp) owner Josh Kroenke is in charge of basketball operations.
The fact that the Nuggets have decided to make a coaching change, by itself, is not that objectionable; but when you combine that with the fact that Kroenke let GM Masai Ujiri bolt for more money with the Toronto Raptors last week, then it’s a reason for panic.
The argument can certainly be made that it was time for a coaching change; as good as Karl has been in the regular season, he has been mediocre at best in the playoffs. If Ujiri had stayed and the decision was made to move on from Karl, then fine. There still would have been a plan in place with a basketball guy running the show.
Now the Nuggets are three weeks from the draft and a month away from free agency, and the decision-maker is a guy who may or may not know the difference between a basketball and a hockey puck.
This model has worked so well for Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys, right? When owners start believing they are as smart as the people they fire, then teams generally turn into a dumpster fire.
Make no mistake, Urjiri and Karl are both gone for one reason, and it has nothing to do with the playoffs. Kroenke did not want to pay the money it would have taken to keep them, and that’s the most disturbing thing.
Urjiri left for the Raptors for $3 million a year, which is a bargain for an upper-echelon GM. Keep in mind that the Nuggets could have extended Ujiri’s contract last year and kept him at half of what he got with the Raptors, but Kroenke has an insane policy of not extending guys until their contract expires.
Can someone please tell Kroenke that he cannot run the Nuggets like he runs the local Wal-Mart! You have to pay talent ,and there is not always someone better hanging out on the street.
So where do the Nuggets go now? For anyone who believes they are going to go after a big name for either job, consider these two things. The Nuggets just fired two guys who won their respective awards for being the best at what they do, so why would anyone who is any good want to work for the Nuggets? They are going to look at the situation and say ‘they just won 57 games and got fired, why would I go there?’
Secondly, the Nuggets are not going to pay the money needed to get a high-profile coach in here. I heard Nuggets color analyst Scott Hastings bring up the name Phil Jackson, and I just quit laughing now. Jackson wants $15 million a year — the Nuggets didn’t want to pay $15 million over five years for Ujiri. I understand Hastings works for the Nuggets and is a lackey, but don’t insult my intelligence.
The Nuggets and Kroenke are going to hire some unknowns at bargain-basement prices and hope it works. Right now, everyone who wanted Karl gone because of the lack of playoff success is thrilled, but I wonder how long it will be before those same people are saying ‘boy it sure would be nice to make the playoffs.’
By letting Ujiri walk and firing Karl, the Nuggets are taking success for granted and when you do that, success usually fails to exist. The happiest person right now is Karl. He gets to walk away from this Mickey Mouse organization and teams will be lining up to hire him.
The Rockies now have a more stable organization than the Nuggets — let that sink in.
Follow me on Twitter @Jemorrone7