City Sports Report

Brian Shaw’s Exit Shows The Nuggets’ Organizational Flaws

Brian Shaw has gone from the rising star to getting the pink slip. (photo courtesy via

Once upon a time, the Denver Nuggets had the NBA’s coach of the year in George Karl. Things seemed to be on the up and up in Denver under his leadership. But then the inexplicable happened. The Nuggets rewarded their coach with a pink slip. Yes, the Nuggets fired Karl and moved from him. Despite the success, the Nuggets felt it was a better move to separate from him and hire someone else. There was obviously something going on behind the scenes that boiled over and caused them to let him go. As far as the replacement for Karl, the Nuggets decided to give a first-time head coach a chance. They hired Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw. Some thought he would be a solid hire while others felt he would not do as well. Two years later, it seems like the naysayers were correct in their assessment of him as the coach of the Nuggets. Denver fired the first-time head coach not even before making it through two seasons. And just like that, Denver is searching for a new head coach. But what did we really expect from a coach that had never been in a head coach position before? And moreover, why did we expect a Triangle offense disciple to do well?

Phil Jackson has been considered by many one of the greatest coaches of all-time. Along with coaching players like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, he has been credited with making the Triangle offense a successful offense to win championships. But unfortunately, it seems that the success he had has not matriculated to his former assistants. From Jim Cleamons with the Mavericks to the more recent Shaw, the Triangle prodigies have not succeeded as much as many have thought they would. So in going forward, why the Nuggets did not look at the history of Phil Jackson’s assistants is beyond me. Any assistant that has started under him has not had success at all. And Shaw did exactly what some thought he would do: lose games. But not only did he lose games, he made a playoff team actually look like they did not know how to play anymore. The great cohesiveness that George Karl nurtured in Denver during his time turned into confusion and consternation under Shaw. And now the Nuggets are heading to a rebuilding project that has no direction. For once, it would be nice for a front office to admit they made a mistake. The power struggle and disagreements between the organization and Karl led to this mess. And now Karl is working to rebuild the Sacramento Kings while the Nuggets organization looks more lost than the Easter Bunny showing up on Christmas.

Going forward, the Nuggets have some decisions to make. They first have to decide what they are going to do with their big money players, forward Kenneth Farried and point guard Ty Lawson. Both were rumored to be on the block at one point or another and they more than likely will be on the block again at some point. Honestly, if they bring in the right coach, both of these guys should be able to flourish. But under Shaw, it looked like they were more inconsistent than they had been under Karl, and the team suffered for it. Lawson is one of the fastest players in the NBA, but you would not know it by the style the Nuggets played under Shaw. His style just did not match the talent that he had around him. And when you try to fit a round peg in a square hole, you are bound for more problems and that is what happened. Farried aka the Manimal, looked lost at times on the court trying to do what Shaw asked him to do. And as for Lawson, he was being forced into an offense that did not suit what he does best. And if Shaw would have potentially recognized what he had and used that, then maybe he would still be there. A good coach learns what his players can and cannot do and uses those abilities accordingly. Shaw never learned that lesson and he ended up losing the team in accordance with that.

The Nuggets organization learned the hard way not to tinker with success when it is working for you. They felt some kind of way about Karl and let him go. And that led to the lifeless team that is now the Denver Nuggets. The fans of the Nuggets deserved better than this. The organization let them down in a bad way and now they have to begin looking at this team rebuild again. All of this because of a power struggle between a coach and an organization a few years ago. But not only did the organization learn a lesson, but Shaw did as well. He learned on the job that the head coach position can be unforgiving. You can go from the rising star in coaching to out the backdoor very quickly. And you have to wonder if he was even built to be a head coach at all. Some guys just aren’t built for that. We shall find out if he learned from his mistake or not if he gets another chance or if that chance even comes again.

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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