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George Karl Seeks Three-Year Extension as Contract Talks Start Next Week

Dec 3, 2010 – 6:04 PM
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Chris Tomasson

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DENVER -- It appears negotiations between the Denver Nuggets and coach George Karl for a contract extension will be a breeze.

Karl, 59, said before Friday's 109-104 win over the Clippers he's hoping to sign a three-year extension and then evaluate if he might want another deal after that. And sources told FanHouse the Nuggets are thinking along the same lines as Karl for the length of his extension.

Negotiations will start next week on an extension for Karl, whose current deal expires after this season.

"I anticipate we're going to exchange proposals next week,'' said Karl's agent, Bret Adams.

But there are no immediate signs that, if Karl is locked up to an extension, Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony would be more likely to sign the three-year, $65 million contract extension offer he has on the table.

"That really don't have nothing to do with me,'' Anthony, who could be traded, told FanHouse when asked he would be more likely to stay if assured Karl is sticking around. "I think the organization, obviously they feel a fit with him here. They see what he's brought to this organization... I'm happy for (Karl being close to an extension). Despite everything that's going on, for (Nuggets officials) to reach out to him like that.''

Karl had told FanHouse in late October he wants to sign a multi-year extension with the Nuggets. Denver vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri then told FanHouse he wants to retain Karl, and sources said negotiations soon would begin.

"George is here for awhile ... George is in the future plans for sure,'' Ujiri said at the time.

Adams said his initial talks with Ujiri will be by phone. Adams and Ujiri on Friday declined to discuss possible contract specifics for Karl, who last February signed a one-year extension for this season worth $4.5 million.

"I'd say I'm probably a three-year guy,'' Karl said of how many years he wants on a new deal. "(That's) kind of what I'm thinking about. I'd be 63 then ... Then we'd talk again maybe (about another deal). I think I have the passion and the bottle of energy to try to keep this Broadway show going.''

Karl missed the final 1 1/2 months of last season due to a form of throat cancer, but is feeling much better. He has no doubts he wants to remain in Denver.

"I knew, if I could get healthy and stay healthy that I could coach probably for a couple of more years, and that's probably what I want to do,'' Karl said. "I'd love it to be in Denver. I'm hoping (contract negotiations) will work out very quickly.''

Sources said Friday the Nuggets are hoping to have Karl's deal done by the Feb. 18-20 All-Star Break, but that they wouldn't mind completing it even sooner.

On the Nuggets' team website on Friday, there was a story in which Ujiri said Karl has "earned a contract extension.'' Adams said Ujiri talked to him earlier this week about having such a story on the team site, and Adams said Friday "that was a good approach to avoid'' any belief Karl might not return.

"People have speculated,'' Ujiri said Friday. "But from Day 1, there has been no doubts in our mind (about Karl returning to Denver). I think because of the speculation, we wanted to come out and make it clear that George is our guy. And, yes, we are negotiating with George.''

Adams said he's enjoyed his dealings so far with Ujiri, who is in his first season as a Denver executive.

"I really like Masai,'' Adams said. "He's been very forthcoming about the importance of stability and starting these negotiations.''

Karl spoke well of his relationship with Ujiri and with Josh Kroenke, who is in his first season as team president and eventually will succeed father Stan Kroenke as Nuggets owner.

"I think it's more than content,'' Karl said of his relations with management. "We'd like another shot to get to the top of the mountain. Masai and Josh have done a great job. I think I've always enjoyed my time with Stan. We're not a top-five team in the NBA, but I don't think we're that far from being one.''

While Karl expects to get a deal done, he said, "(Denver is) a great city. I plan on living here with or without a contract probably the rest of my life.''

Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups considers it welcome news that it looks as if Karl will get his extension.

"I know that he's been wanting that for awhile, so it's good to see him getting what he wants,'' Billups said.
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Karl, two wins shy of becoming the seventh NBA coach to reach 1,000 career wins, is in his seventh season with Denver. With Karl being either one or two wins shy when the Nuggets start a four-game road trip next Tuesday at Charlotte, Ujiri said he and Josh Kroenke will be at every game until Karl reaches 1,000.

"It's a tremendous accomplishment,'' Ujiri said.

Karl missed Friday's shootaround due to being under the weather. But he returned to coach in the evening.

"I had a headache at (a hospital charity event Thursday),'' Karl said. "And when I got home, I got a temperature. My temperature went up to 102, 103. I just kind of laid in bed early. Still woke up this morning at about 101. It was going in a good direction so I didn't want to change that. So I stayed home.''

Karl didn't handle the post-game interview session after the win over the Clippers. He went home to rest, and assistant Melvin Hunt did the duties.

Chris Tomasson can be reached at tomasson@fanhouse.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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