The 20-39 Denver Nuggets have fired embattled coach Brian Shaw, according to The Denver Post.
This should come as no surprise to those who have followed the Nuggets since Shaw took over for George Karl before the 2013-2014 season.
Though the team was hit by a rash of injuries last year, Denver still struggled mightily to live up to expectations. Coming off their most successful regular season in franchise history, the Nuggets went just 36-46 in Shaw’s debut on the sidelines and missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Denver talked a big game over the summer, however, stressing that a group close to full health coupled with schematic adjustments from Shaw made to better fit the Nuggets roster would lead to a relative renaissance. Instead, the team has gone from mediocre to poor, and from facing questions of chemistry to outright answering them negatively.
The Nuggets are an abysmal 2-19 since mid-January, tumbling down the Western Conference standings due to all-encompassing on-court ineptitude that has as much to do with Shaw’s vexing strategic choices as a reality that he long ago lost the team.
Early last month, the second-year coach openly wondered if his players were intentionally giving lackluster effort. Just a few days ago, Denver broke a huddle with “1-2-3…six weeks” – the amount of time there is left in its lost season.
Even amid his team’s downward spiral to the early lottery, though, Nuggets GM Tim Connelly recently stressed that his coach’s job was safe.
But time moves swiftly in the NBA, and Denver has lost six consecutive games since Connelly threw support behind Shaw.
Frankly, this is a development we saw coming long ago. Not only was Shaw’s stylistic basketball id an awkward fit for the Nuggets’ go-go roster from the beginnig, but it also was obvious that his hubris would prove extremely detrimental to a roster rife with “unique” personalities.
On the court, in the locker room, and dealing with the media, Shaw was never going to work in Denver.