It was not easy for the Denver Nuggets to lose 2013 NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri to the Toronto Raptors. What made it even harder was that Nuggets president Josh Kroenke also had to make the tough decision to fire 2013 NBA Coach of the Year George Karl.
Karl reportedly wanted a long-term extension, even though he still had one-year with a three-year team option left on his contract with Denver. He thought he would be able to use his Coach of the Year Award and a 57-25 regular season record, which was the best in franchise history, to get a mega-deal done. However, Kroenke was not ready to go ahead and ink an extension when the Nuggets have yet to accomplish anything major in the postseason.
“And I understand that there could be some unease out there just based on the awards that were recently won,” Kroenke said, according to USA Today Sports. “It was a very successful regular season, 57 wins, coach of the year, executive of the year, but at the end of the day, I’m not here to win awards, I’m here to win banners.”
Despite having exceptional regular season records under Karl, Denver lost in the first round of the NBA playoffs eight out of the nine times the former head coach led them to the postseason. The only time the Nuggets moved on to the next round occurred during the 2008-09 season. Unfortunately, Denver lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the Western Conference Finals.
The Nuggets have finished either first or second in the Northwest division with Karl at the helm. However, not getting to the NBA Finals at least once in the past nine years was unsettling for the organization.
With that being said, firing Karl could have been a huge mistake that could cost Denver for years to come. The fact is the Nuggets have one of the youngest teams in the NBA, which means the players need a veteran head coach to lead them. Replacing Karl will certainly be difficult in that department considering he does have plenty of legitimate experience.