George Karl will not return as the Denver Nuggets coach for the final year of his contract, the team announced Thursday. The decision comes almost a week after the team allowed general manager Masai Ujiri to leave for the Toronto Raptors.
“George has been an instrumental part of our success over the past decade, and we appreciate everything he did to keep us among the top teams in the Western Conference,” team president Josh Kroenke said in statement released by the team. “He is a Hall of Fame coach whose legacy in Denver will last for years to come. George is a legend in the game of basketball and I could not have more respect for him as a person and coach.”
Karl's departure was first reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Karl took over the team in 2004 and was headed into his last season under contract, but Wojnarowski reports that the two sides apparently decided to go their separate ways after being unable to agree on a contract extension.
In nine seasons with the Nuggets, Karl's teams never once missed the NBA playoffs and finished this past campaign with a 57-25 record and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. It was the best win total ever for the franchise and earned him NBA Coach of the Year honors. In 2010, the cancer survivor became the seventh head coach in NBA history to reach 1,000 wins.