Originally Posted by Denver Post
Tuned-out Karl should hit road
Hey, it's Stan Kroenke's money. If the billionaire owner of the Nuggets wants to pay coach George Karl for doing nothing, all we can do is watch as Denver gets rudely bumped from the NBA playoffs year after year.
Broomed 107-101 by the Los Angeles Lakers, Karl was left to explain Monday why he couldn't get it done when it mattered most for the fifth consecutive season.
Trade Allen Iverson? Give up on Carmelo Anthony? Dump the salary of Marcus Camby?
Any analysis of what's wrong with the Nuggets must start with Karl.
"He's our coach. But I think we all should be evaluated in the offseason," Nuggets vice president of player personnel Rex Chapman said. "This is the second year in a row this same crew has come up short. Everybody needs to look in the mirror."
With two years remaining on Karl's deal and an aversion to buying out contracts, Kroenke has six million reasons to rationalize the retention of his veteran coach.
But can the Nuggets really afford to keep the status quo, come back another for another NBA season with the same cast of characters and expect anybody in Denver to buy it?
"It can stay the same if your goal is to win 50 games. But I don't think that's the goal. The goal is to win a championship," Chapman said.
So something has got to change.
"I think we're a top 10 team in the NBA. But, unfortunately, there might be six teams in the Western Conference better than we are," Karl said.
Denver does not play defense. Denver does not share the basketball. But, worse of all, Denver does not listen to its coach.
The Nuggets have tuned out Karl.
And that's no secret.
You don't need to be inside the Denver locker room to know these players have stopped investing their attention in Karl. It's has been evident to anyone who has watched the playoff series on television.
While Karl preaches, his players are asleep in the pews. During breaks in the action against L.A., the Nuggets often seem more interested in getting a drink than in hearing the wisdom of their coach.
Denver leads the league in blank stares during timeouts.
Once players stop listening, is there anything left to tell a coach except goodbye?
With two all-stars in the starting lineup and one of the league's richest payrolls, why are the Nuggets such frustrating underachievers? A longtime NBA scout told me the reasons for failure are as simple as 1-2-3.
# This is not fantasy basketball.
# No accountability means no commitment.
# If a coach can't get players to listen to him in the huddle, how can he expect them to run back on defense?
The one major adjustment Karl made during the series was to bench Anthony Carter. There was one major flaw to the strategy. It forced Allen Iverson to play point guard. And everyone in the NBA knows A.I. is a scorer, not a passer.
When the organization decided it would be wiser to return to Denver between road games in California, veteran players had so little respect for Karl's authority that they complained with more passion than they sometimes show on the floor.
After a Game 2 loss in Los Angeles that Anthony called totally unacceptable, Karl called a optional practice, rather than ordering his team to work in the gym. So it was no surprise when Denver starters failed to show up.
Talk to NBA personnel who have watched Karl work for decades and they suggest maybe the coach has lost his energy to do battle with stubborn millionaires.
Ask Chapman if the Nuggets can succeed with both Anthony and Iverson trying to share a single basketball, and the answer is an emphatic yes.
Karl loves the game, as evidenced by the emotion in his voice when talking about his son, Coby, advance in the playoffs with the Lakers.
But has the fire gone out?
In the 86th game of the season, it is too late for a coach to demand respect of his players.
The easy thing to do would be to keep Karl as coach.
The hard thing is do would be to find a coach who demands commitment to winning from the opening tip to the final buzzer.