Not many teams have done what the Denver Nuggets have just pulled off, which is letting go of both your general manager and head coach after both won “executive of the year” and “coach of the year” honors. Masai Ujiri, now former Nuggets GM, has taken the GM job with the Raptors, and George Karl was fired as head coach last week. Denver has never been a hotbed of NBA success, with only three trips to the Western Conference Finals in their 37 years in the NBA, 5 trips to the conference semis, 16 seasons of losing in the first round of the playoffs, and 13 seasons of missing the playoffs all together. For Ujiri and Karl to put together a franchise-best 57 win season (3rd overall in the Western Conference) with a roster that doesn’t feature any real definitive star is beyond impressive and certainly worthy of the honors that they received. Even though the team did once again fail to get out of the first round of the playoffs, the team still vastly over achieved, and did in fact lose to a Golden State Warriors team that really wasn’t so bad given the fact that they took two games off the San Antonio Spurs who are now playing in the NBA Finals.
Letting go of both Ujiri and Karl now makes the future of the organization very dicey. Andre Iguodala, one the key cornerstone pieces of their team is now looking even more likely to opt of his contract and look for work elsewhere given that George Karl is now gone. Should Iguodala leave, the Nuggets could be in an even worse situation with their general manager of the year gone, coach of the year gone, and top player gone.
Should this be the case, it will be a lot tougher for the Denver Nuggets to put forth competitive seasons in the future or seasons that were better than the one they just had. I understand the organization is frustrated about not being more in the mix for championships, especially after the way Carmelo Anthony departed, but the organization may have just made things a lot worse by getting rid of potentially three guys who could have been building blocks for a contender for years to come. The Nuggets haven’t completely shot themselves in the foot by letting Karl and Ujiri go, but they’ve put themselves in a significant hole to climb out of because finding replacements as good as the guys they just lost will not be an easy or sure task.
–Ben Parker: follow me on twitter @nba_lord