Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Roundtable: George Karl's Change of NBA Scenery

George Karl's COY trophy got altitude sickness, so he must move on. (David Zalubowski/AP)

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: The Denver Nuggets unexpectedly fired reigning NBA Coach of the Year George Karl on Thursday. With several head coaching jobs still open, whose bench will Karl sit on during the 2013-14 season?

The Los Angeles Clippers. They keep getting ousted by the Memphis Grizzlies, but even first-round playoff appearances are better than the turmoil the franchise toiled in before. The Clippers must maintain the momentum they have gained over the past two seasons — something even owner Donald Sterling must know, even with his antiquated chants and general cringe-worthy-ness — and the best coach available to do that is Karl. He can instantly come in and make postseason appearances a reliable reality each spring and do it with tactics other than the "You decide, Chris Paul," plays of his predecessor, Vinny del Negro. That is, if Paul sticks with the franchise. Bringing in a decorated, veteran coach like Karl, who has already had much success in the Western Conference, could be a game-changer for Paul when he enters free agency. The point guard will have numerous legitimate suitors, but adding a head coach of Karl's ilk could sway him to stay alongside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, if Paul believes in the direction of the franchise. If the Clippers can get Karl to sign on, that direction is up. 

An NBA Coach of the Year award was not enough to keep George Karl in Denver, mostly because the Nuggets made another early exit in the playoffs. It's not like they turned to crap when the regular season ended, they were just unfortunate to run into Stephen Curry and the high-powered Golden State in probably the best of the first-round series. The Clippers and Grizzlies should both be interested in the veteran coach, and while the allure of Los Angeles would be tough to pass up, I think Karl could wind up in Memphis. This is already a top-tier team in the Western Conference that has proven it can win a playoff series, without the media intensity he would receive in LA. Karl would have one of the best defense in the league, with enough pieces on offense in Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol for Karl to work with to turn a Grizzlies team that was No. 27 in scoring last year into one of the best offenses like he had in Denver.

George Karl shouldn’t get too comfortable with unemployment. It’s not often (or ever) that an NBA Coach of the Year becomes available in the same offseason he wins the award. As far as where Karl ends up, I think it comes down to The Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have a lot of talent with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez. Brooklyn is a ready team to win now and has played in high-intensity playoff games. Despite a roller-coaster season, Deron Williams is still one of the best point guards in the league, and with legitimate scoring options around him with Johnson, Lopez, and Gerald Wallace, I think Brooklyn is too attractive a position for Karl to pass up.

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