NBA Saturday: Karl Extension Shows Hand?
Nuggets, Karl Discussing Extension: The Denver Nuggets and George Karl are closing in on a contract extension that would keep the head coach with the franchise for several more seasons.
Last night, the team announced that the two sides are in renewed discussions and it appears a deal will be completed in the next few months after Karl received a clean bill of health from doctors. Sources say that the deal would likely keep Karl in Denver for three years and both sides are optimistic that they’ll come to agreement.
"We’ve said it from day one that George is our guy and we want him here for a long time," Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. "George is a future Hall-of-Famer. He has earned a contract extension."
But what does this move say about the future of the Nuggets?
Not only does extending Karl show that the team is committed to winning now, it also provides hints as to how the Nuggets will handle the continuing soap opera with Carmelo Anthony.
Throughout this entire process, Karl has maintained that he wouldn’t return to the sideline if he wasn’t given players that could contribute right away. When the Nuggets were considering packages that featured young players and draft picks, it was the head coach that didn’t care for the offers.
At this point in his career, Karl doesn’t want to coach a rebuilding team. He is fifty-nine years old and he wants to coach a contender that has a chance to win him a ring before he retires.
He was against the idea of trading for the nineteen-year-old Derrick Favors, who hasn’t been alive as long as Karl has been coaching. When Favors reaches his prime years from now, Karl will likely already be retired and in the Hall of Fame.
The head coach wants players that won’t miss a beat and keep Denver in contention after Anthony is gone. A veteran like Andre Igoudala, for example. The Nuggets placed several calls for players that interested Karl over the summer, but realized that their best bet was to hold off on a move until later.
But now that Karl is in serious talks to sign a contract extension, have the Nuggets shown their hand?
League sources insist that Karl wouldn’t sign an extension if he wasn’t going to be given the pieces he needs to succeed. Now, with the two sides on the verge of a deal, does that mean it’s only a matter of time until Denver moves Anthony for veteran pieces that will make the next three years worth Karl’s time?
Only time will tell how the Nuggets handle the situation, but the team’s first important decision regarding their future certainly provides some hints.
Injuries Create Opportunities for Rookies: On most teams, rookies are more worried about carrying bags and buying donuts than contributing on the court. Of the sixty players selected in the NBA Draft, only a select few receive the opportunity to play big minutes. That is, unless injuries occur.
When a player goes down, it creates opportunities for others. This season, many of those players have been draft picks. Here are five rookies that are now cracking their team’s rotation and playing a significant role due to an injury.
Eric Bledsoe – With Baron Davis sidelined with a knee injury, Bledsoe has stepped up and started in seventeen games for the Clippers. Even when Davis returned last night, Bledsoe remained the team’s starter. Since moving into the first unit, he has averaged 9.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds and silenced critics who believed he was years away from contributing. Even if he moves back to the bench, he has earned his spot in the rotation.
Larry Sanders - After Andrew Bogut experienced back spasms and requested not to travel with the team, the Bucks turned to their first round pick Sanders. He made the most of his opportunity, recording 14 points, 10 rebounds and 8 blocks. His minutes have been increasing in recent weeks and like Bledsoe, his consistent production means he’ll likely continue playing even after Bogut returns from injury.
Derrick Caracter - With Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff injured, it looked like Caracter’s minutes would increase. But when Pau Gasol strained his hamstring, there was no question that the rookie would see the floor. Had Gasol not been able to go on Friday night against the Kings, Caracter would have gotten the start. Instead, he played significant minutes off of the bench, contributing 10 points in the first twenty minute game of his career. While a stint in the NBA Development League may be in his future, Caracter is making the Lakers look very smart for selecting him with the 58th pick in last year’s draft.
Ed Davis - Though Davis isn’t starting in place of Reggie Evans, who will miss eight weeks after foot surgery, he has moved up in the depth chart. He has been the first big off of the bench for the Raptors and he has played significant minutes off of the bench in the two games since his rehab stint in the NBA Development League. Evans’ injury created minutes for Davis and he’ll continue to play a big role for Toronto over the next two months.
Jordan Crawford - Atlanta’s first round pick has only played in nine games this season, but expect to see more of him now that Joe Johnson will miss four-to-six weeks after elbow surgery. Mo Evans will move into the starting lineup but Crawford should start cracking the rotation in the next few weeks. The Hawks will need scoring and the former Xavier star could their short-term answer.
NBA News and Notes: Here are some items from this week’s news and notes bin.
• Based on the television ratings, it appears that more people were interested in LeBron James leaving Cleveland than they were in his return. Thursday’s game between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers drew an impressive 4.2 rating which translates to 7.1 million viewers. But that was nothing compared to The Decision’s 7.3 rating, which translates to an astounding 9.95 million viewers.
• Shawne Williams’ hard work over the offseason could start paying off in the near future. After dropping fifty pounds and significantly improving his jump shot, Williams made the New York Knicks’ roster after an impressive training camp. Now, Williams has looked good when his number has been called and his minutes could increase soon. After playing just nine minutes all season, Williams was given 21 minutes on Friday and he erupted for 13 points off of the bench for the Knicks. Don’t be surprised if he continues to crack the rotation and get his career back on track.
• The Orlando Magic have been called one of the deepest teams in the NBA, a title they lived up to on Friday night. With Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus sidelined with a stomach bug, the Magic were still able to beat the Detroit Pistons by double digits thanks to spectacular play from their bench players. Brandon Bass contributed a career-high 27 points and Marcin Gortat totaled 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. Most teams blame ailments for their failures, but the Magic just use them as an opportunity to pad their reserve’s stats.