DENVER — Nuggets coach George Karl missed the final month and a half of last season while battling a form of throat cancer. This season began with the rumours swirling around all-star forward Carmelo Anthony.
Through the turmoil, Karl admitted there were times he didn’t know whether he would remain long term with the Nuggets.
But everything has worked out for Karl.
His health is much better, Anthony was traded last month to the New York Knicks for a bevy of assets, and Karl has signed a multi-year contract extension to remain in Denver.
“There were many days that I said, ’This can’t work out. This is not good for anybody,”’ Karl said Wednesday after practice. “I tip my hat to Josh (Kroenke, Denver’s president) and Masai (Ujiri, Nuggets executive vice-president of basketball operations) for having the trust in themselves to get something done that was good for me, for them. And it was a team decision, a unified decision. And right now, it’s got everybody pretty fired up.”
Karl, 59, who has been with the Nuggets since January 2005, was due to become a free agent after the season. His extension is for three years, through the 2013-14 season. There are three one-year team options after that on a deal that could take Karl through 2016-17.
Karl, who has the third-longest tenure of any active NBA coach behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Boston’s Doc Rivers, could be 66 when his contract expires. While Karl said he hopes to retire from the NBA with the Nuggets, he couldn’t guarantee he will want to fulfil the life of his contract.
“I don’t know,” said Karl, the NBA’s second-winningest active coach after the Lakers’ Phil Jackson with 1,023 wins. “There’s a part of me that says I hope I don’t fulfil all six of them. But then I say to myself, ’What else would I do?’ I’ll probably coach somewhere else at a lower level” after the NBA.
Karl is 315-199 in seven seasons with Denver.