Best Potential Landing Spots for Head Coach George Karl

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 6, 2013

DENVER, CO - APRIL 23:  Head caoch George Karl of the Denver Nuggets looks on against the Golden State Warriors during Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

From searching for a spot for his NBA Coach of the Year hardware to now scanning through the coaching classifieds, George Karl has truly seen both ends of the spectrum this season.

With multiple coaching vacancies yet to be filled, the talent pool for available coaches just grew a whole lot deeper.

Karl holds a career 1,131-756 coaching record and has already been thrust into the conversation for some of the most coveted sideline positions.

He's proven that he has the ability to lead a star-studded roster. He led Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton's Seattle Supersonics to the 1996 NBA Finals. He took Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson's Milwaukee Bucks to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. Then he led Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals in 2009.

But he's also shown the ability to win without a true superstar on his roster.

He helped Denver maintain relevance after Anthony's departure, making three straight playoff runs and leading the Nuggets to the third-best record (57-25) in the Western Conference this year.

With that in mind, which potential landing spots make the best sense for him? Two immediately come to mind, and both clubs are reportedly interested in bringing Karl on board.

The Memphis Grizzlies still technically employ Lionel Hollins, but a league source told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that contract extension talks have stalled and Hollins is "likely done" in Memphis. So it comes as little surprise that the team has reportedly already reached out to Karl, this news coming from Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears.

While Karl's Nuggets played nothing like the Grizzlies last season in terms of numbers (Denver paced the league's offensive clubs with 106.2 points per game, while Memphis led all defensive units with its 89.3 points allowed average), there might be more similarities than the stats suggest.

Karl likes to force-feed the ball into the paint and could reasonably trade his penetrating game for one centered around Memphis' twin towers Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. He also loves to create offensive chances on the defensive end, something that the Grizzlies have the defenders to do. That would also help mitigate Memphis' offensive deficiencies in the half-court set.

And don't forget the futures of Randolph and NBA All-Defensive first-teamer Tony Allen are yet to be decided, meaning next year's Memphis team could look drastically different from the version that we saw this season.

There's also the possibility that Karl takes his talents further out west and lands with the Los Angeles Clippers. L.A. has been reportedly "monitoring" his situation in Denver, according to ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne, and there should be legitimate interest from both parties.

The Clippers could bolster their chances of retaining free-agent point guard Chris Paul by making a splash in their coaching search. If they're looking for a big name on the market, it doesn't get much bigger than Karl's (at least as long as Phil Jackson keeps declining overtures).

And as far as rosters go, they won't get more appealing to Karl than L.A.'s. He'd have the gazelles to handle his fast-paced attacks and athletic rim-protectors as insurance in his gambling defensive schemes.

Obviously, anyone considering the Clippers as a potential employer would like to know what Paul's plans are. But if Paul intends to keep creating magic inside Staples Center, then Karl has to find his way into the arena.

If he doesn't wind up in Memphis or L.A., then Karl might be better off waiting to see which jobs open up next summer.

The Brooklyn Nets have the roster built to win now, but Wojnarowski reported that they're not interested in Karl. The Detroit Pistons are still very much in the rebuilding process and presumably not looking for a 62-year-old to see it through.

The Philadelphia 76ers might be mildly intriguing, with Jrue Holiday's evolution and Thaddeus Young's ability to serve as Karl's stretch forward. But it's hard to imagine anyone taking a strong look at Philly before Andrew Bynum's future is settled.

So, for now, it's either Memphis or L.A. (or the broadcast booth) for Karl.

Most unemployed coaches would love to have those options. But, then again, most reigning NBA Coaches of the Year aren't spending their summer searching for jobs.