The Denver Nuggets have fired head coach Brian Shaw midway through a disappointing 2014-15 season, reports Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. Shaw lasted less than two years in his first head coaching gig, seemingly losing control of the Nuggets' locker room before he could lead the team to the playoffs.
Assistant coach Melvin Hunt will take over on an interim basis, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Denver is currently 13th in the Western Conference with a 20-39 record and well on its way to another lottery trip. But it's the manner in which the team was losing that likely cost Shaw his job. Earlier this year, Shaw suggested the following day that some his players might be losing on purpose. Several weeks later, he admitted he was reading books to learn how to relate to Millenials in an attempt to understand his team. On Friday, the team reportedly chanted "1 2 3 SIX," a reference to the number of weeks left in the season. (The Nuggets said this was a reference to not winning a home game in six weeks.)
While the team waited a long time to make a move, the writing was on the wall. Shaw openly undermined his relationship with the players by telling reporters they apparently weren't together in trying to win, then did little to repair the situation once it was already falling apart. His relationship with star point guard Ty Lawson was rocky and included several "tense" locker room interactions, according to Grantland's Zach Lowe.
The firing brings an end to the situation, as well as Shaw's first crack at head coaching in the NBA. The 48-year-old was hired in 2013 after years of being regarded as a rising star in coaching circles while assisting on staffs for the Lakers with mentor Phil Jackson and then the Pacers, but failed to find success.
Shaw was hired to replace George Karl, who was fired the season after securing the Coach of the Year award. He had led Denver to nine straight postseason appearances and five 50-win seasons in his final six years. The Nuggets went 36-46 in Shaw's first year at the helm, then bottomed out this season with their worst effort in well over a decade.