It was announced earlier today that George Karl wouldn’t return to coach the Nuggets next autumn, instantly elevating the 62 year old to the top of the Clippers and Grizzlies’ wish-lists, but also raising the question, what the hell happened in Denver? In the considered view of the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla, Karl fuck with the wrong team president (who just happens to be the owner’s son).
Karl tried to leverage his 57-win season and his coach of the year trophy into a new contract. Guess what? The Kroenke family does not succumb to leverage. Ask former general manager Kiki Vandeweghe what happened when he threatened to bolt.
As one NBA executive told me: The Kroenkes don’t do leverage. They blow up the bridge of negotiations. “Then,” the NBA exec added, “Stan Kroenke comes and blows up your house.”
I get frustrated with JaVale McGee’s amazing lack of hoops instinct and wavering focus, too. But Karl got paid handsomely to coach up the big man. As has been the case too often in the past, rather than be a player’s ally, Karl pointed a finger of blame at McGee. The coach has done it to players more talented than McGee (see Ray Allen). Karl has done it to people worse than McGee (see J.R. Smith). In the NBA of 2013, a coach who thinks he’s the star would be better served working a gym on a college campus.
The beauty of basketball is the scoreboard. The scoreboard never lies. But Karl constantly acted as if the final score was a negotiable item. Sure, he would take responsibility for defeat, as the driver of the bus, but not until he ran the bus over everybody else along for the ride.