Karl, who had one year left on his contract, guided the Nuggets to nine straight playoff appearances and 423 wins, the second-most in team history behind Doug Moe (432).
Team owners were unwilling to commit to a contract extension sought by Karl, 62 and a cancer survivor, Yahoo Sports reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the situation.
“George has been an instrumental part of our success over the past decade, and we appreciate everything he did to keep us among the top teams in the Western Conference,” Nuggets President Josh Kroenke said in a statement. “He is a Hall of Fame coach whose legacy in Denver will last for years to come. George is a legend in the game of basketball and I could not have more respect for him as a person and coach.”
The move comes a week after the Nuggets’ vice president of basketball operations, Masai Ujiri, left to become general manager of the Toronto Raptors. Ujiri was voted the NBA’s executive of the year this season.
“So we lost a GM now a coach what’s next!?,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried, who averaged 11.5 points and a team-leading 9.2 rebounds this season, wrote on Twitter.
Karl led the Nuggets to a 57-25 regular-season record that was the fourth-best in the NBA and finished ahead of the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra in the coach-of-the-year voting. Denver, which had a league-best 38-3 home record, lost to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nuggets plan to ask permission to speak with Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins and Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw about succeeding Karl, Yahoo reported.
Karl is sixth on the NBA’s coaching victories list and the active wins leader with a 1,131-756 record. He has gone 21 straight seasons without a losing mark, tying Phil Jackson for the most in NBA history. Karl may be a candidate for coaching vacancies with the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets, as well as in Memphis, where the Grizzlies have given Hollins permission to talk to other clubs.
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