George Karl

Coach George Karl fired by Denver Nuggets

Coach George Karl will not return for the final year of his contract in 2013-14, Denver Nuggets President Josh Kroenke announced today.

Hired on Jan. 27, 2005, Karl orchestrated one of the most successful eras in Nuggets history. He guided Denver to nine consecutive playoff appearances and a regular-season record of 423-257. His victories rank second in franchise history to Doug Moe (432).

It’s a surprise to most observers that the Nuggets aren’t keeping Karl. The team had a successful season. Karl did a great job getting the most out of his squad. It’s a weird move to say goodbye to the man who just won the league’s Coach of the Year award.

“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,” Kroenke said. “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.”

The Nuggets will begin the search for a new coach immediately, and an announcement will be made when the process is concluded.

Karl, 62, was named the 2012-13 NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Nuggets to a team-record 57 games and the No. 3 seed in the West, but Denver lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

The Nuggets advanced past the first round once under Karl, reaching the Western Conference finals in 2009.

According to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post, “Team president Josh Kroenke informed Karl on Thursday morning that he would not bring him back. He said the combination of Karl pushing for a contract extension, and the uncertainty surrounding Karl’s possible interest in the Los Angeles Clippers job this week, led him to believe it was best to go in another direction and bring in a new coach. Karl has one year left on his contract. Karl did not return calls seeking comment, but sent out a tweet: “I want to thank Nuggets fans for their support over the past 8 yrs. The karma on the street was incredible. Denver will always be home.” The Nuggets are expected to target two primary candidates to replace Karl: Indiana Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, according to a league source. Hollins has been given permission by Memphis to look at jobs around the league, although his preference is to return.”