There was the Allen Iverson trade. Chauncey Billups' arrival. The battle with cancer. All the Carmelo Anthony drama. And then a remarkable 57-win season this year despite significant injuries to the roster.
George Karl survived it all.
But the only aspect of being the head coach of the Denver Nuggets Karl could not survive and salvage was his ultimate dismissal and firing last week. So much for Coach of the Year. Now Karl finds himself at the head of the unemployment line with a very important interview scheduled to take place early next week (reportedly with the Grizzlies).
In an interview with by Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post, Karl detailed his departure from Denver and frustration toward team president Josh Kroenke, while spreading the news regarding his interview with the Memphis Grizzlies this coming Monday.
“The fans like this team. The staff likes each other. And to blow up that connection is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful to coaching,” Karl said in the interview, upon telling Kroenke on his firing, “I think it's very stupid."
Considering Denver’s investment in youth — Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, Evan Fournier and Ty Lawson — and untimely injuries to Faried and Danilo Gallinari, it is still an amazing accomplishment that Denver was able to post 57 wins this season, not to mention their 15-game win streak. But after dropping out in the first round of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors, Karl certainly faced his share of critics.
Winning Coach of the Year did not prevent the criticism, yet Karl probably did not imagine he would have to endure the distrust of Kroenke as well.
“I know I can be fired and the voices behind closed doors can be against me. But this year, I just felt that at the end, for a team that had so much success, unity and karma, I felt that Masai and Josh drifted into a direction that was difficult to understand,” added Karl, who claims he did not demand a contract extension.
“I'm sorry that 57 wins doesn't make you happy."
Happiness could rest in Memphis if talks between the two-sides go well on Monday.
The Grizzlies released Lionel Hollins of his duties and now Hollins is set to interview in Denver on Saturday. And as Karl contemplates his next coaching move, Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers remain on his mind.
“I'm talking to Memphis and have had basically preliminary conversations with L.A. (Clippers) and Memphis… I want to coach three to four (years) at least. But I want to coach a good team. I don't want to coach a rebuilding team."
In a way, George Karl is undergoing his own personal rebuilding process.