Nuggets Sign George Karl's Son, Coby
But that's not what the son of George Karl wants. Coby Karl signed with his father's Denver Nuggets on Sunday, a move first reported by FanHouse.
"Actually, that was what I didn't want it to be,'' the son said of it being looked upon as a heartwarming story. "Obviously, it's going to be portrayed that way. But I want to be here as a basketball player. I'm part of the team, and hopefully will progress to make this team next year and maybe play.''
Then again, Coby Karl, who had been playing with the NBA D-League's Idaho Stampede, said it might not be all that bad if it's portrayed as an emotional story.
"(The media will) spin it how you want,'' said the guard. "But if that's what helps my father recover, that's great.''
George Karl, battling a form of throat cancer, has been away from the Nuggets for four weeks. It's uncertain whether he will be able to return during the playoffs, which begin Saturday or Sunday for Denver.
The Nuggets on Sunday also signed center Brian Butch from the D-League's Bakersfield Jam, although it had been known for a week Butch would join the team. Both Coby Karl and Butch have contracts for the remainder of this season and non-guaranteed deals for next season for the minimum.
Vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien said Coby Karl and Butch were brought in as part of Denver's late-season trend of signing players to such contracts to look at them during the summer and have flexibility with them when it comes to possible trades. But Warkentien didn't deny if the signing of Coby Karl "helps George's situation, then that's icing on the cake.''
Bret Adams, George Karl's agent, said his client was "happily surprised'' when he first got the word about the Nuggets wanting his son about a week ago. Adams said he got "goosebumps'' when he heard George Karl's partner, Kim Van Deraa, talk about how excited he was.
"He's pretty happy,'' Warkentein said of his coach.
Adams credited Warkentien for wanting the father to call his son to give him the news he was being offered a deal by the Nuggets. As it turned out, Coby Karl, who said he had been considering signing a 10-day contract with another team, had already known about the Nuggets wanting him when his father called about a week ago. But that apparently didn't hamper the conversation.
"He's pretty emotional about it,'' Coby Karl, who averaged 19.3 points for Idaho, said about his father having him on the Nuggets. "It's been one of his goals to coach me, and obviously he's not the coach right now. But I think it gives the opportunity for that to happen.''
Coby Karl, who worked out Sunday at the Pepsi Center, played earlier this season with Cleveland and Golden State, and with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007-08. With his fourth NBA team, he becomes the first man to play for an NBA team coached by his father, although the Nuggets technically are now being led by assistant Adrian Dantley.
"It would be fun for me, honestly,'' the son, who averaged 7.0 points in four late January and early February Warriors games, said of the possibility of eventually playing for the Nuggets with his father on the bench. "It would be special I think and unique. But, to me, it's not a feel-good story. I'm being coached by a person who has coached me my whole life.''
It's doubtful either Coby Karl or Butch will be activated for one of Denver's final two regular-season games. Both will play for the Nuggets in the (Las) Vegas Summer League in July,
While the odds are against George Karl coaching in the first round of the playoffs, Adams, said he still "wouldn't count out George.'' Coby Karl said he has "no clue'' whether his father might be back at some point in the postseason.
"I think he's recovering,'' said the son, who arrived in Denver on Wednesday when on that day his father completed his 1 1/2 months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. "It's a slow process. And he was kind of shocked how much it took out of him. But I think every day that there's no poison going into his body, he's done with his treatments, he's going to get better. I'm just looking forward to when he can start seeing the improvements and that's when his spirits will start growing and his willpower will start to show.''
For now, Coby Karl said his father keeps a lot inside.
"He never really shows his cards,'' said the son. "I know he's in a lot of pain, but he'll say he's fatigued. But we never know. I hope (the coach can be back on the bench in the playoffs). But I don't know.''
Coby Karl, who went against Denver two years ago with the Lakers, is one of just three NBA players to have played against a team coached by his father. The others are Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Mike Dunleavy Sr. and Jan Van Breda Kolff going against father Butch Van Breda Kolff.
Brian Butch is good friends with Coby Karl from their high school days in Wisconsin, and also knows George Karl. Butch, who averaged 17.7 points and 11.9 rebounds for the Jam and never has played in an NBA game, said he's "really excited for the opportunity'' to join the Nuggets.
But there doesn't seem to be anybody more excited about Denver's late-season roster moves than George Karl.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson