The drama of the the 2011 NBA lockout, Melodrama and the consequential rebuilding of the Denver Nuggets roster, nearly overnight, have overshadowed much of the on-court pressure from the last two seasons.
However, when examining the Denver Nuggets and the long-term commitment it has made to George Karl and company, Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke's patience must be wearing thin. Both have acted brilliantly throughout the last two seasons, turning the forced trade of Carmelo Anthony into tangible and valuable assets, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Andre Miller, Kosta Koufas, Corey Brewer and Timothy Mozgov, while brilliantly recognizing what most of us knew about Nene's ability to become a dominant post player (he never will) and flipping him and his exorbitant contract for a young athletic center in JaVale McGee.
The person who has yet to show his value in all of this is George Karl. Granted, Karl has had to deal with the aforementioned issues over the last two seasons, and there have been significant injuries to the roster this year, with Gallinari's being the most damaging. The team also doesn't possess a bona fide "closer" (although at times players like Afflalo have stepped into this role).
But examining his track record with the Nuggets beyond that, and his playoff success has amounted to one singular season. Couple that with the prospect of another one-and-done playoff run being the most likely outcome for 2012 (that is, as long as they make the playoffs), and complacency seems rampant.
At what point does the Nuggets front office grow weary of the same outcomes year-in and year-out? The formula for the Nuggets is simple, because this is a players-run league where superstars throw tantrums until they can join their friends in major markets to form some super team, Ujiri and Kroenke have decided to put a team together with a multitude of young, quality talent and depth to out-work those teams and make substantial progress in the form of playoff success.
Only the ever-present regular season success that Karl-run teams generally output is in jeopardy as well, and a short playoff run seems certain. Since the All-Star break, the only signature win against a Western Conference playoff team the Nuggets have is in February against San Antonio. They have beaten some Eastern Conference playoff teams, recently the Bulls and the Magic, but that was without their superstars. They also have an embarrassing loss to the Raptors, as well as being recently shellacked by both the Jazz and T-Wolves.
The Nuggets have at least six players that could be starters on most NBA teams, and let's face it, a lot of mid and small-market teams are rooting for the Nuggets' formula to work in order to provide a blueprint to offset the top-heavy, star-player controlled NBA.
But isn't it time for George Karl to prove his worth and make another run? Otherwise the Nuggets' brass need to consider a change. Karl's lack of playoff success is well documented, and he's not a young man. If this year is not the year, then maybe a switch at the top would be best for all parties. As a long-time Nuggets fan I know I'm sick of having little-to-no hope—let's see if the same is true for Ujiri and Kroenke. I bet the leash is a lot shorter than many people think.
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