Published March 08, 2011
DENVER – Two weeks after Carmelo Anthony punched his ticket out of town, Nuggets coach George Karl signed his own long-term extension to stay in Denver.
Karl signed on for three more seasons Tuesday. His deal has been in the works for months but took a back seat to the season-long negotiations to trade Anthony, who was dealt to the New York Knicks two weeks ago.
"We're very excited," general manger Masai Ujiri told The Associated Press. "George has always been a priority, and we had a lot going on this year. But he's a Hall of Fame coach and he's been a winning coach with us and we're excited about the future."
Karl's new deal runs through 2014 and includes options for additional years.
"I've always said Denver is the place I want to end my career. This puts me one step closer to achieving that goal," Karl was quoted as saying on the Nuggets website.
Karl is 1,023-698 in 23 NBA seasons for a .594 winning percentage. He's coached in Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee and Denver, where he's guided the Nuggets to the playoffs in each of his six seasons.
He missed the last two months of last season to fight throat and neck cancer, then returned this season and became the seventh coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games, joining Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson and Larry Brown in the exclusive club.
His 315 wins with the Nuggets rank second to Doug Moe (432) in franchise history and his .613 winning percentage is tops.
Karl has drawn praise for keeping his team together this season through the "Melo-drama." The Nuggets are 37-27 and in fifth place in the Western Conference. They're 5-2 since trading Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New York for a package of young players and draft picks.
Ujiri said he wasn't at all surprised the Karl kept his staff and players focused through the protracted talks to trade the All-Star forward, whose representatives informed the Nuggets last summer that Anthony had given up his hope of winning a title in Denver and wanted to play in Chicago or New York.
"He handled the situation great," Ujiri said. "He had to deal with the circus every day. That's hard on a coach, and he kept on winning games. We've always wanted George here. That's the honest truth. He's done a great job with the new guys, but we knew he would. We knew he was the coach we wanted from Day One."
The Nuggets said Karl would address the media after practice Wednesday.
Karl spoke earlier Tuesday to a group of business leaders at a breakfast to benefit the Boy Scouts of America, where he reiterated his desire to finish out his coaching career in Denver and said he was rejuvenated by the three-team, 13-player trade that brought Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov to Denver from New York and Kosta Koufus over from Minnesota.
"I believe that we will be a better basketball team not only in the next few months but the next few years," Karl said. "I think we will challenge for a championship."