Well Deserved

Posted by By at 10 March, at 14 : 47 PM Print

Two of the more underrated coaches in the league were reward by their teams with contract extensions this week and both were well deserving of their reward. The 37-27 Nuggets gave George Karl a three year extension that will see him in the Pepsi Center through the 2013-2014 season with three one year options which could make his tenure last through the 2016-2017 season. In the great northwest the Portland Traiblazers, who coincidentally have the same record as the Nuggets, gave Nate McMillan a two year extension.

When George Karl was away from the Nuggets at the end of last year fighting his battle with throat cancer his presence was sorely missed on the Nuggets sideline. Players openly admitted that he was in their thoughts and rightfully so. A stable force for a team with the personalities of Carmelo Anthony, JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, and Chris Anderson is not easily managed, but Karl seemed to handle them flawlessly.

It’s hard to believe that being with Denver since 2005 makes Karl the coach with the third longest tenure in the league behind Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers. Given his age of 59 and his current state of health it looks as though Karl will get his wish of retiring from coaching with the Nuggets. The second winningest active coach in the league after Phil Jackson has led the Nuggets to a 315-199 record and has them currently sitting as the #5 seed in the Western Conference.

After a battle with cancer, coming back to the everyday questions and media circus that surrounded the Nuggets with the pending free agency of Carmelo Anthony had to seem like a breeze. Always the eternal optimist, Karl said that the trade of Anthony was “kind of a closure on a bad year and hopefully starting into a great year and a great run”. The Nuggets are 5-2 since the trade and Karl’s steadying hand will be needed as the team got younger with the acquisition of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, and a point guard rotation that includes second year man Ty Lawson.

Yesterday the Blazers gave a Nate McMillan a two year extension. His reward to the organization was defeating the Heat 105-96 and handing them their 5th loss in a row. Currently sitting sixth in the west, Portland has won 4 in a row and 7 of their last 10 and are slowly but surely getting healthy at the right time with Brandon Roy now back and working back into shape to play his normal 30+ minutes.

While he should get some consideration for coach of the year this year, he probably did an even better job last year when you take into account that the Blazers went 50-32 with players missing a combined 311 games due to injuries. Richard Cho said that ““What Nate has accomplished in the last few years is truly remarkable and getting his contract extended was a top priority for the franchise and me”. After both McMillan and the team decided to not let his contract situation become a distraction and wait until the end of the season to discuss a deal Blazers owner Paul Allen decided now was the right time and I agree with him.

With two games against Mavericks, Lakers, Thunder, Hornets, and two against the Spurs on the schedule for the remainder of the month now is as good a time as any to start making good on that new deal. Camby’s back, so is Roy, Rudy Fernandez wants to be there (for now), LaMarcus Aldridge is playing like an all-star (and probably should’ve been one), and has a new toy in the new acquired Gerald Wallace so the tools are there for him to possibly have his best season in Portland yet.

Different methods, same result, the exact same when you look at the both teams’ records to this point. Both are widely respected around the league and by their current and former players. McMillan prefers to do with with defense, which should be no surprise to anyone since he was twice a member of the All-Defensive Second Team. Karl prefers the offensive approach, and no one’s doing it any better right now with the Nuggets’ 107.3 points per game leading the league. Kudos to Rich Cho & Paul Allen as well as Stan Kroenke & Masai Ujiri for securing one of their respective franchise’s prize assets.

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One Comment

  1. The Bowse, 9 years ago Reply

    You gotta respect what Nate has been able to do with a depleted line up for the Blazers!! Karl is a hall of famer who is still excited to coach even after seeing his roster get blown up !

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