New Kings coach Michael Malone, who spent 12 seasons as an assistant, might rue the day he joined the head coaching brotherhood. Job security there is not. The Denver Nuggets firing of George Karl Thursday - and assuming the Memphis Grizzlies' officially cut Lionel Hollins loose - means that more than one-third of the league's coaches were fired. To be precise, 12 of 30 head coaches were fired, including six who led their teams into the playoffs.
I can't remember a time when the coaching market was flooded with so many competent and accomplished candidates (Nate McMillan, Hollins, Jeff and Stan Van Gundy, Phil Jackson, Doug Collins, etc.), and certainly none moreso than the Nuggets' Karl. In his ninth and final season in Denver, Karl led a balanced, but moderately talented team to a franchise-record 57 victories. The injuries to Danilo Gallinari (out for year), Kenneth Faried and Ty Lawson hampered the Nuggets and contributed mightily to their first-round elimination by the Golden State Warriors. And it goes without saying that it's extremely difficult in this league to win without at least two legitimate stars.
Karl's inability to get the Nuggets beyond the first round, coupled with his request for a contract extension and more security, reportedly prompted team president Josh Kroenke to part ways with the second key Nuggets figure (Masai Ujiri) in the past several days. But Kroenke may have a few regrets this time next year, because no coach in this league squeezes more out of his talent than George Karl. A two-time cancer survivor and future Hall of Famer, Karl wins wherever he goes. He won't be out of work long.