Karl isn't ready to make an ultimatum. But that time could come for Karl, who signed a one-year contract extension last February to take him through this season.
"I don't like being a businessman,'' Karl said in an interview Monday with FanHouse. "But, if that's what I have to be, I will be.''
Karl, who Wednesday against Utah will coach his first regular-season game since March 16 before he missed the final 1 ½ months of last season due to a form of throat cancer, said there haven't been contract discussions yet with management. But, he wants to return next season to the Nuggets.
"I'm going to live in Denver probably the rest of my life,'' said Karl, 59. "So I think that answer (about wanting to re-sign) is yes. But it's got to be a respectful offer.''
There's no indication Karl, making $4.5 million this season, would consider a one-year extension to be in that category.
"Probably not,'' Karl said of not being interested in just one season being tacked on. "I'm getting old enough to where I can (get one more) good deal. If I can't get it (in Denver), it'll be interesting to see if I can get it in the free market.''
Karl, who has been with the Nuggets since January 2005, originally had a deal that was to expire after last season. He got his one-year extension last February, about a month after Karl learned he had cancer for the second time. It wasn't known then that Karl, who beat prostate cancer in 2005, would end up missing as much time as he did.
Karl, just 14 victories shy of becoming the seventh NBA coach to reach 1,000 wins, says his health is his top priority. But he's feeling good enough now to think about coaching the Nuggets for years to come.
"I'm open to any discussion,'' Karl said about a contract extension. "But that's not my call. I'm in an evaluation year myself. I'm worried more about me, and how I'm doing with my health. ... The priority of a new contract is on my radar screen, but it's not something we've talked about.''
Nevertheless, Karl is optimistic Denver's new management will retain him. Josh Kroenke has become team president after being handed leadership reins from his father, owner Stan Kroenke, and Masai Ujiri has taken over as executive vice president of basketball operations.
"I don't think there's any question that Masai and Josh have been very positive and hopeful to maybe go in that direction,'' Karl said of being given a contract extension.
Karl expects the main call will come from Josh Kroenke. The executive did not return a phone message left Monday by FanHouse.
The possibility of Karl becoming a free agent next summer has been overshadowed by the situation involving Nuggets star forward Carmelo Anthony, who has not signed a three-year, $64.47 million contract extension that is on the table and could opt out of his contract and become a free agent himself next summer. While a Denver re-signing of Karl likely wouldn't hurt the chances of Anthony sticking around, Karl didn't want to be overly presumptuous.
"I think Melo and I quietly have grown to be pretty respectful of one another,'' said Karl, the NBA's seventh-winningest coach ever with a 986-671 mark, including 278-172 with Denver. "I like coaching him and I hope he likes me coaching him.''
Being in the final year of his contract didn't affect Karl too much last season. Before Karl's extension was settled during All-Star Weekend, he had led the Nuggets to a 35-18 record and was named the Western Conference coach for the All-Star Game.
"I thought it was somewhat of a distraction to my (assistant) coaches,'' Karl said. "I don't think it was a distraction to the team.''
For now, count Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups as one who would like to see Karl stay even longer in Denver.
"Everybody likes playing for him. Hopefully,'' Billups said of Karl being retained. "There are a lot of uncertainties on this team.''
There sure are. In addition to Karl and Anthony perhaps being bound for free agency, Billups could have his $14.2 million contract for 2011-12 bought out for $3.7 million. Additionally, forward Kenyon Martin will be a free agent and center Nene also can opt out of his contract.
At least one certainty is that Karl will be back on the bench against the Jazz, who defeated the Nuggets 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs last spring with assistant Adrian Dantley having replaced Karl. There were some rough moments last March and April during his recovery, which should result in Karl being pretty emotional Wednesday.
"There's an awareness of what I went through,'' Karl said. "It all begins (again Wednesday). There probably will be a crescendo of emotion that comes through before the game.''
As for having any less energy than before, a month of training camp has led Karl to believe that won't be the case.
"The players are already realizing that I'll be probably more animated and more energized this year than I was the last few years,'' Karl said.
Nuggets management will decide if that will translate at some point into a multi-year contract extension for Karl.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson