The starless Denver Nuggets just lost their biggest name on the bench.
George Karl was ousted Thursday less than a month after winning the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. His tenure with the Nuggets is over after 8½ seasons.
The longtime coach is following general manager Masai Ujiri out the door in Denver after Ujiri, the league’s executive of the year, recently left to become GM of the Toronto Raptors.
“So, we lost a GM now and a coach, what’s next?” tweeted Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried.
Karl had just a year left on his contract, which may have played a role in this decision. Calls and e-mails to Karl’s representatives were not returned Thursday.
But Karl did take to Twitter, posting on his certified account: “I want to thank Nuggets fans for their support over the past 8 yrs. The karma on the street was incredible. Denver will always be home.”
“George has been an instrumental part of our success over the past decade, and we appreciate everything he did to keep us among the top teams in the Western Conference,” team president Josh Kroenke said in a statement. “He is a Hall of Fame coach whose legacy in Denver will last for years to come. George is a legend in the game of basketball and I could not have more respect for him as a person and coach.”
Karl guided the third-youngest team in the NBA to the third-best record in the Western Conference with a franchise-record 57 wins, but the Nuggets were bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. The news of Karl parting ways was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
Recently, reports have surfaced that the Clippers might be interested in talking to Karl about their vacancy. All this week, Karl was evasive when he showed up at the team’s facilities to watch potential draft picks work out for the Nuggets.
FLOPPING FINES: With players, coaches and fans continuing to complain about the widespread practice of flopping, NBA commissioner David Stern said the league needs to expand its anti-flopping rules.
This season, the league instituted a system that retroactively fined players for flopping after video review.
But only five players were fined $5,000 in the regular season and seven more have been fined that amount in the playoffs.
Stern hinted at increasing the penalty for those found guilty of flopping.
“It isn’t enough, it isn’t enough,” Stern said in his annual pre-NBA Finals news conference. “You’re not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player’s salary is $5.5 million. And anyone who thought that was going to happen was allowing hope to prevail over reason.”
The issue will be taken up at the NBA’s competition committee meeting scheduled for next week in San Antonio.