Imagine being given an annual award for excellence in your profession and then a few short weeks later being fired from that very same position. This is exactly what happened to the NBA’s current coach of the year, George Karl, who is now on the open market looking for work.
Karl led the Nuggets to the playoffs during each of his nine seasons in the Mile High City, but was released, along with reigning NBA Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri, in an apparent overhaul in Denver.
With the Sixers still searching for a coach, it only makes sense that some would suggest that the team consider Karl. Almost immediately upon Karl’s releases, Grantland’s Zach Lowe tweeted:
“Not sure he'd be interested, but would not shock me at all if the Sixers' revamped front office called Karl ASAP.”
While it makes sense to consider Karl, as he has long been one of the League’s premier coaches and he will certainly have several suitors, the NBA’s 2013 Coach of the Year wouldn’t be a good fit in Philly.
Karl’s age and health issues alone should serve as red flags for the front office. All indications are that the Sixers are interested in a young, up-and-coming coach who has the drive, dedication, and patience to mold the future of the franchise. Karl is 62, and has been a head coach in the NBA since the early 1980’s. He has recently missed time to fight a brave battle with throat cancer, and although he seems to have overcome the issue, his health remains a serious concern. Being an NBA head coach is a serious grind, especially spearheading a rebuilding project such as the Sixers, and one has to wonder how much Karl has left to commit. It is safe to assume that, even if he was hired, he wouldn’t serve as the long-term solution the Sixers have been hoping for.
Age aside, there are other issues. While Karl has been excellent at turning teams around and putting them in the playoffs (Cleveland, Golden State, Seattle, Milwaukee), he has fallen short in seeing a team through to a title. He was only once able to take a team to the Finals, and his Nuggets only made it out of the first round one time throughout his tenure.
In 2012 the Sixers sat one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals, and while the team looks a lot different, several of the key pieces remain the same. This is not a team starving for playoff appearances, but rather a team that needs to build and improve. They do not need a coach who is going to be able to put them into the playoffs; they need a coach who can see the team through a course of improvement until they are a true championship contender, and this has not been one of Karl’s strong suits.
Granted if it weren’t for the greatness of Michael Jordan, Karl would probably have a title from his 1996 Supersonics team. However, MJ kept rings from a lot of people, and given the current circumstances of both team and coach, it doesn’t seem likely that he Karl will find his first in Philadelphia.
Look for a team with a shorter timetable to success, such as the Clippers or Grizzlies, to capitalize on Karl, while the search continues for the Sixers.