Lionel Hollins, Stan Van Gundy, Jeff Van Gundy, Phil Jackson and even Vinny Del Negro: these are names that have been tossed around in the Brooklyn Nets' search for a head coach going into the offseason.
Brooklyn (shockingly) parted ways with coach Avery Bradley the month after he won Coach of the Month. P.J. Carlesimo stepped in and led the Nets to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, though the Bulls' stingy defense and timely heroics from Nate Robinson would eliminate Brooklyn in the first round.
The Nets now find themselves looking to improve for a deeper playoff run next season. With its cap space tied up into core guys like Deron Williams ($18.46 million), Joe Johnson ($21.467 million), Brook Lopez ($14.694 million), Kris Humphries ($12 million) and Gerald Wallace ($10.1 million), and a blockbuster trade essentially out of the picture, Brooklyn needs a coach who can adapt his system to the players he's given.
George Karl fits that mold perfectly.
As you probably know, Karl's Nuggets led the NBA in points per game, pouring 106.1 on their opponents night in and night out. They also averaged 85.2 shot attempts per game—second most to the Milwaukee Bucks (87.1)—and were tied for fourth with the Los Angeles Clippers in field goal percentage (47.1).
But Karl's not a strictly offensive coach.
Back in the late '90s, Karl's Seattle SuperSonics led the NBA in fewest points allowed at 93.2. He, Gary Payton and Vin Baker molded the Sonics into a defensive powerhouse that wrecked offenses throughout the league.
George Karl is a player's coach, which is exactly what the Nets need, especially after Williams supposedly got Jerry Sloan fired and (possibly) had a hand in Avery Johnson's firing as well.
His coaching philosophy has been dubbed "Random Basketball," and works best with fast-paced, young-legged teams like the Nets who love to run the floor and get easy buckets in transition while knocking down threes.
Who Should Brooklyn Hire as Head Coach?
Karl's also one of the kings of player development (see: Carmelo Anthony, Ty Lawson, Ray Allen, Gary Payton and almost JaVale McGee, among others) and would have a hand in the growth of stunted young players like MarShon Brooks, Tyshawn Taylor and Mirza Teletovic—three players who would fit into his run-and-gun system beautifully.
Brooklyn has a multitude of options for the coaching vacancy (including the in-house favorite, P.J. Carlesimo) heading into the summer. But finding a coach to fit the different personalities and play styles of the Nets' roster could be difficult.
George Karl—a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach—is the perfect fit in Brooklyn.