June 27, 2013
At long last, Brian Shaw is getting his first chance to coach an NBA team.
The former guard for the Los Angeles Lakers and Phil Jackson pupil has agreed to succeed George Karl as coach of the Denver Nuggets, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday night because the deal hadn't been officially announced.
Still, it was the buzz of the basketball world.
“I think the Nuggets are going to benefit from his tenure,” Jackson tweeted.
“So great to see Brian Shaw rewarded with this long overdue opportunity,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told The AP in a text. “Congrats to Brian and the Nuggets. Denver just got one of the best head coaches this league will see for years to come.”
The Denver Post first announced the agreement with Shaw, the Indiana Pacers assistant who told the newspaper he’s been “prepared by the best of the best” for his first NBA head coaching job, adding “I feel like I’ve waited and paid my dues.”
Shaw is a longtime assistant who has interviewed about a dozen times for head coaching positions but kept coming up short until Monday.
He beat out Lionel Hollins, the former Memphis Grizzlies coach.
The Nuggets called a news conference for Tuesday afternoon, where team president Josh Kroenke and newly hired general manager Tim Connelly will introduce their new coach.
Shaw replaces Karl, who was ousted June 6 just weeks after winning the league's Coach of the Year award.
Shaw inherits a young team loaded with talent that won a franchise-record 57 games but lost Danilo Gallinari to a knee injury down the stretch and bowed out in the first round of the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 years.
Gallinari recently underwent surgery and is expected back in December.
The Nuggets have been a state of flux all summer after they were knocked off by the Golden State Warriors in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
First, Masai Ujiri, who engineered the win-win trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, left the Nuggets’ front office for the GM job in Toronto. Ujiri was the league's Executive of the Year.
Less than a week later, Kroenke fired Karl.
Ujiri’s right-hand man, Pete D’Allesandro, then took the Sacramento Kings’ GM job and took Denver executive Mike Bratz with him.
Also, the Nuggets’ top perimeter defender, Andre Iguodala, decided to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent, although he could return to Denver on a five-year deal while the most he could get elsewhere is a four-year contract.
Shaw, 47, owns five NBA championship rings as a player and assistant coach. A first-round draft pick by the Boston Celtics in 1988, Shaw played for eight teams in his 14 NBA seasons.
As Vogel’s top assistant, Shaw drew praise for his work with rising star Paul George last season. The Pacers forward was an All-Star and helped lead Indiana to the Eastern Conference finals, where they took the eventual champion Miami Heat to seven games.
Although he has deep roots with the triangle offense that Jackson featured with the Chicago Bulls and the Lakers, Shaw told the Denver Post he won’t use that system with the Nuggets, who thrived in a fast-paced, free-flowing system under Karl.
Shaw played at St. Mary’s and UC Santa Barbara before an NBA career that lasted from 1988 to 2003. He was a member of the Lakers’ three championship teams in the early 2000s and Jackson hired him as an assistant after he retired.
He won two more titles with L.A. as an assistant coach and when Jackson retired from the Lakers in 2011, Kobe Bryant voiced his support for Shaw becoming Jackson's successor, but he was passed over for that promotion.
AP Sports Writer Michael Marot contributed.