Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke spoke with the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman today about George Karl. The coach is coming under fire from the media and fans alike for the way his team finished the season. Here is a snippet of what Kroenke had to say:
"George is under contract for next year. At this point in time, we haven't really given any thought to making any change whatsoever," Nuggets president Josh Kroenke told The Denver Post and nuggets.com.
This is such a hot topic and a topic that has a few different outlooks.
Camp 1: Fire and replace Karl.
Camp 2: Keep Karl, but replace his trust player(s): Andre Miller being the big name mentioned.
Camp 3: Keep Karl, the team is young and still improving.
I definitely had my qualms about Karl's coaching throughout the season and during the playoffs. I wanted to see JaVale McGee, Evan Fournier, and Jordan Hamilton get more time on the floor this season. From what we saw in the post-season it looks like McGee could be ready to challenge for the starting role next season. Karl was asked about that today and said McGee will be nudged more in the starting direction, but he wouldn't commit to McGee as his starter - despite what McGee showed in the playoffs.
The big thing Denver was missing in the playoffs was a knockdown shooter - for me: Hamilton is still a totally unknown. He didn't get any meaningful or regular minutes this season after spending the entire summer in Denver working with the Nuggets on his game. The knock on Hamilton has been his defense, but judging from what we saw out of Brewer and Miller ... Karl is willing to play guys who gamble.
Karl also talked today about wanting to keep pushing Ty Lawson in the leader role. George said Ty made strides as the team's leader this season, even though he's not very vocal - Karl seems to like how Ty stepped up. Karl said he would be in contact throughout the off-season with Ty, like he was last year too. It seemed Lawson really bought into Karl's system and was one of the few guys on the team willing to talk publicly about the team needing to be more focused and perhaps not doing what the coaching staff was asked.
The other big thing for Nuggets fans is the excuse factor. People say that this is the team Karl has been asking for. Some people even go so far as to say Karl chased Carmelo Anthony out of town. Did Karl really ask for Danilo Gallinari to tear an ACL? Thus the other excuse ... people like me are going to offer up an excuse for Karl. You cannot tell me that if the Nuggets were healthy they wouldn't have ran through the Warriors.
Once Kenneth Faried got himself back into the series (about Game 4) things started to look up for Denver. Gallo showed that his presence on this team may have been bigger than most thought. But we have guys like Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls who has found ways to get things done without Derrick Rose. It is up to Karl to find ways to win without a player or two and he was unable to do that.
I also can't get the images of Brewer and Wilson Chandler and others missing big shots in Game 6 out of my head. Brewer was just 1-8 shooting and 0-5 from downtown. What if a guy like J.J. Redick was taking those five threes? Would he have made three of them?
The reason I bring up Redick? With the Nuggets winning 57 games in the regular season - we shouldn't forget that! Are the Nuggets still really far away? The work of the front office and coaches is not done, they still have room to improve - if that's the direction they want to go.
I could see the Nuggets tinkering with the roster and giving it another go next season. I could also see the Nuggets deciding to blow things up and wanting to go in a new direction. Both paths have their pros-and-cons. I don't know what the right course of action would be, but lucky for me I just have to react to what the franchise decides.
I enjoyed watching this Nuggets team and I thought they had a real chance in the post-season, despite losing Gallo. I was not right. I would have liked to see this team with Gallo, even Lawson mentioned today that had it been Gallo taking some of the open shots in this series that it could have been a different series.
Lots of questions this summer, but it looks like George Karl will be back on the bench next season. What players will be subtracted and added for the 2013-14 campaign? We'll find out soon.
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