According to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Denver Nuggets have fired George Karl, who had one year left on his contract. The decision was apparently made because the Nuggets did not want to give Karl the contract extension he had been pushing for. Whatever the reasons behind Karl's departure, one thing is clear: the Nuggets are in a very weird place right now.
Two months ago, everything was looking peachy in Denver. After playing unevenly throughout the first half of the season, the Nuggets hit their stride. A 24-4 run after the all-star break pushed them into third place in the Western Conference, secured a franchise record for regular-season wins (57), and seemingly set the team up for a deep playoff run. Then bad things started happening. Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL, Stephen Curry got touched by the hand of God, and whiz-kid GM Masai Ujiri jumped ship for Toronto.
And now this. The 2013 coach of the year, who was nine years into his tenure (the longest he had ever been with one team) is gone, because the Nuggets think they can find someone better. Maybe they can. But Karl seemed to be the perfect coach for this team. After undergoing a slew of roster makeovers, it looked like the Nuggets had finally assembled the ideal George Karl team: a deep roster full of long, athletic playmakers that could score in gobs, play defense, and run the floor. The Nuggets built a unique machine, and Karl was the ideal technician to make it hum. He successfully juggled a deep rotation that had no clear alpha dog, developed Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried—neither of whom was a lottery pick—into two of the NBA's top young players, and even got JaVale McGee to be something other than a laughingstock. Will Lionel Hollins or Brian Shaw be able to do the same?
In a matter of weeks the Nuggets have gone from being a promising young team with a solid braintrust to a team with no coach, no GM, and whole lot of questions. The most immediate one: Who will console poor Kenneth Faried?