George Karl, NBA's Coach of the Year, leaving Nuggets
Veteran coach leaves shortly after Ujiri hired by Toronto
George Karl is following general manager Masai Ujiri out of Denver.
Less than a month after winning the NBA's Coach of the Year award, Karl's tenure with the Nuggets is over after 8 1/2 seasons. His departure comes shortly after Ujiri, the league's executive of the year, 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 a year left on his contract and was aiming for a new deal.
The Clippers, Nets and 76ers also have head coaching vacancies and the Memphis Grizzlies have given coach Lionel Hollins permission to speak with other teams.
"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 released Thursday. "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 straight season.
The news of Karl parting ways was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
The 62-year-old Karl kidded down the stretch that he'd rather not be Coach of the Year, because of the track record of those coaches getting let go. He led the Nuggets to nine straight playoff appearances and a 423-257 mark in the regular season. Those 423 wins rank second in team history behind Doug Moe (432).
A two-time cancer survivor, Karl changed his coaching style after returning from throat cancer in 2010. He delegated more duties at practice, relying on his assistant coaches to do much of the teaching.