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No surprise, Sacramento Kings plan to fire former Nuggets Head Coach George Karl

Nate Timmons Avatar
April 13, 2016


The Sacramento Kings 2015-16 season comes to an end tonight in Houston vs. the Rockets. The Kings plan to fire George Karl the following day, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports; the dismissal has been on the horizon for months.

After the team returns from its final road trip of the season, the Sacramento Kings are planning to announce the dismissal of coach George Karl on Thursday, league sources told The Vertical.

Karl is aware of the timing of the Thursday dismissal, sources said.

Karl’s tenure in Sacramento was always a bumpy one as he clashed with Kings’ star DeMarcus Cousins before the hiring was even made official. The two butted heads throughout Karl’s short year and a half reign in SacTown in a very public way, multiple times. Why the Kings would hire a coach who is known for clashing with star players and not gam-planning around big men is anyone’s guess. The hiring was a mistake and Karl taking the job was also a mistake, and it might be the last chance Karl gets as an NBA coach at the age of 63.

Karl will be forever linked with the Denver Nuggets and in the bizarre NBA world, it was almost as if the Kings and Nuggets traded coaches. Michael Malone was fired in Sacramento and Karl eventually took over, Karl was fired in Denver and Malone eventually took over after the team fired Brian Shaw (56-85 over two seasons in Denver).

Kings fans pined for Malone across the web, as he is the only coach to have a successful relationship with Boogie Cousins and in some corners of Nuggets Nation fans pined for the days of Karl. Karl has gone 44-67 with the Kings with just one game remaining to play. That game has major implications for the Denver Nuggets — if the Rockets beat the Kings, the Nuggets get Houston’s first-round pick. If the Kings beat the Rockets and the Jazz beat the Lakers in L.A., Karl can deny the Nuggets that asset.

Karl is nearing the end of his brilliant NBA coaching career. With the Nuggets he compiled a 423-257 record for a win percentage at .622; he has the second most wins in Nuggets history next to Doug Moe (432-357) and the second highest win percentage next to Larry Brown (.652). But it’s the playoff record that haunted Karl in Denver; his teams went 21-38 in post-season play with one trip to the Western Conference Finals. We should remember that WCF run with Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Nene leading the way for Denver. It was a special team that Karl guided.

George Karl on the sidelines in 2005. Credit: USA Today.
George Karl on the sidelines in 2005. Credit: USA Today.

Push all the numbers aside, Karl was a special coach with the Nuggets. In a bet with former Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin back in 2005, Karl donned a Denver throwback jersey during a game — a move reserved for MLB managers. He was also the first NBA coach that I got to know as a journalist. He taught me about the game and how he saw it. I used to love to pepper him questions about his rotation, he fired back that he’d love to see me on the sidelines for even one quarter — perhaps at a Summer League game.

One day I entered the practice gym and he was sitting just inside the entrance in his normal spot on his stool, waiting to hold court with the media. He announced for anyone within ear shot to me, “I go with a big down the stretch (Kosta Koufos) like you’re always complaining I never do and you still killed me for it.” I had written in my recap that Karl should have benched Koufos and ridden the hot hand player instead in Kenneth Faried.

Another time I was conducting an interview with former Nuggets guard Julyan Stone and Karl interrupted, again from his usual spot on the stool, to tell Stone that he shouldn’t talk to me and that it’d be bad for him if he continued with the interview. He said it without cracking a smile and Stone was rattled, then Karl’s little smirk appeared and off he went down to the locker room. Fortunately for me, Stone saw the smirk and we continued the discussion.

I loved the time that I got to spend around Karl. To date he has 1,175 career wins with one game left as the Kings’ coach; that’s 1,175 more wins than I’ll ever have. I’ll always cherish the times I got to sit with him in the stands at Summer League in Las Vegas and chat about his son, Coby Karl, who was playing in Vegas and around the world, about his time with the Nuggets and about getting fired from the Nuggets and issues that bugged him about it.

Coach Karl, give ’em hell one last time… but reaching 1,176 wouldn’t be good news for the Nuggets…


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