DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets officially introduced Brian Shaw as their head coach on Tuesday.
Shaw steps in for George Karl, the NBA Coach of the Year who was ousted after the team won a franchise-record 57 games, only to be bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
A longtime assistant, Shaw finally gets his chance to coach an NBA team. He's been mentored by the likes of Phil Jackson and was the associate head coach for Indiana during the season that just ended, when the Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference finals before being eliminated by LeBron James and the Miami Heat in seven games.
A first-round draft pick by the Boston Celtics in 1988, Shaw played for eight teams in his 14 NBA seasons. He captured three championships as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers and two more titles with L.A. as an assistant under Jackson.
The 47-year-old Shaw has been interviewed for quite a few head coaching vacancies over the years only to be passed up — until Monday. Shaw beat out Lionel Hollins, the former Memphis Grizzlies coach.
This may have played a part in the decision: With the Pacers, Shaw played an integral part in developing young players such as Paul George. The Nuggets are youthful, boasting the third-youngest team in the league last season.
It's been a tumultuous offseason for the Nuggets since a first-round loss to the Golden State Warriors. First, general manager Masai Ujiri — the league's Executive of the Year — bolted from Denver to become the GM of the Toronto Raptors.
On the heels of that, Denver severed ties with Karl after he led the Nuggets to nine straight playoff appearances and a 423-257 mark in the regular season. His biggest issue was the opening round, with his teams losing eight times in those nine appearances.
Under Karl, the Nuggets were an up-tempo team that liked to wear out opponents, especially in the thin air of the Mile High City, where they went an NBA-best 38-3 at home in 2012-13.
Although Shaw has been heavily influenced by the teachings of Jackson and his triangle offense, Shaw has said he won't use that type of system with the Nuggets.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel is certainly a big Shaw fan, saying after the season ended when his assistant's name kept surfacing for openings, "I do have the anticipation that we will have to replace him and if we don't, then there are some poor decisions being made out there because I believe he'll be one of the great coaches in this league."
With a coach now on board, the top priorities for Connelly & Co. will be the draft later this week and locking up Andre Iguodala, the team's top perimeter defender who decided to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. Iguodala could return to Denver on a five-year deal while the most he could get elsewhere is a four-year contract.
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