Denver Nuggets

George Karl Calls Denver Nuggets Firing Him 'Very Stupid'

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Head coach George Karl of the Denver Nuggets observes the action against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Pepsi Center on March 7, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Clippers 107-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 14, 2013

Seriously, who fires a reigning Coach of the Year?

No, that's not a hypothetical question. It's something that former Denver Nuggets coach George Karl has been trying to figure out since being fired with one year left on his contract a week ago.

Karl sat down with The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman and is clearly still trying to make sense of that decision.

After he was let go by the franchise he'd just guided to its best NBA regular-season record (57-25), he discussed the move with team president Josh Kroenke

"I said, 'I think I should tell you, I think it's very stupid,'" he told Hochman. "And since then, I don't understand it."

The Nuggets supposedly had reasons to let him go.

There were reportedly concerns with potential attitude problems heading into the final year of his contract, and one source said the front office was less than thrilled with his handling of JaVale McGee. After being rewarded with a four-year, $44 million contract extension, McGee averaged less than 19 minutes per game last season.

But Karl said if the front office really wanted to focus on the numbers, there were some much more important statistics that should have have come before McGee's minutes.

"We won 57 wins and are in a great place," Karl said. "Continuity, consistency, togetherness are all so much more valuable than they have on their priority list than playing JaVale McGee or the young players."

He's not willing to concede the point that he didn't play young players. And he was adamant that the criticisms of his rotation were never made known to him before it was too late:

First of all, it shouldn't be that I didn't play young players; it's I didn't play young players enough, because we played a lot of young players—Kenneth Faried, Kosta Koufos, Evan Fournier at the end of the year, Ty Lawson. And I never had a meeting where that disappointment, in that part of it, was voiced to me. I never had that meeting. I heard through whispers. I'm sorry that 57 wins doesn't make you happy.

As for those perceived attitude problems, Karl said they were blown out of proportion:

I didn't demand an extension—I said to Josh, 'I will coach this team next year, I'm excited about coaching this team next year, but in the last year of a contract, there are things that could happen. I didn't say they would happen. I said they could happen.

 

Even if it doesn't sound like it, Karl is moving on from the situation. He confirmed that he's had "preliminary conversations" with the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies about their coaching vacancies.

But he still can't help but think about what could have been in Denver.

I think it was a special season because of the connection this team has with each other and with the coaching staff and with the city, he said. The fans like this team. The staff likes each other. And to blow up that connection is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful to coaching.

If it's revenge that Karl's really after, there would be no sweeter way to deliver that than bringing that same connection to his next NBA franchise.

And yes, there will absolutely be a next NBA franchise in his future.

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