Former Denver Nuggets bench boss George Karl doesn’t currently coach in the NBA, but he still watches from afar. Like many Nuggets fans, he was surprised the team wasn’t more active around the NBA Trade Deadline.
“I actually thought there was some teams really fired up to make a trade; I thought Denver was one of those teams,” Karl told Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro during Afternoon Drive on Mile High Sports Radio. “I know they made the Nurkic trade, but I thought they were just in position, the way they’re playing, the confidence of Jokic being their guy, just the confidence of the team, it kind of said ‘maybe we should clean this up and try to build for the playoffs.'”
The Nuggets picked up Roy Hibbert from the Milwaukee Bucks, which Karl thinks was in reaction to the New Orleans Pelicans picking up DeMarcus Cousins (many others believe it was financially-motivated), but they didn’t make the major move many were hoping for.
The Nuggets apparently tried to nab Paul George from the Indiana Pacers, but were unable to reportedly because he didn’t want to come to Colorado. That has been a problem for the Nuggets in free agency as well, which is something Karl doesn’t see changing.
“I’ll be honest, after the Melo trade, I thought we actually had people interested in coming here to play the fast-tempo that we played at, score a lot of points,” he said. “I don’t think Denver is ever going to be on the top tier of free agency and I think it’s crazy to even think you are.
“In the same sense, I think you can be a player in the second tier of free agency. All that asks for is that you be a little smarter, maybe a little more clever and pick your guy maybe before everybody else picks the guy and pay him a little bit more than maybe someone else will.”
The Nuggets do have good young player in Nikola Jokic. Many people are heralding him as the next great big man. For his part, Karl isn’t quite ready to call him a superstar just yet.
“I think he’s damn good; I would not say he’s a superstar though,” Karl said of Jokic. “I love him as a player. I would like to see him produce winning basketball a little more often.”
Karl also reminisced about his time with the Nuggets. He feels like one major move kept him in Denver for a little while longer.
“If we don’t make the Chauncey Billups trade, I personally don’t think I make it through that year. But we get the Chauncey trade and within two weeks, we know we’re a good team; and for almost two and a half years, we’re one of the best teams in the NBA.”
When asked if he would have done everything, Karl simply said: “beat Golden State.”
Listen to the full interview with George Karl, including his thoughts on the Cousins trade, more about his time in Denver and how he’s doing health-wise, in the podcast below.
Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.