Denver Nuggets to pursue Mike D’Antoni if they fire Brian Shaw


The Denver Nuggets are reportedly eyeing Mike D’Antoni as a potential coaching replacement if they decide to move on from Brian Shaw.

The Denver Nuggets haven’t made any moves to shake up their coaching staff despite a 13-20 start that’s put them behind the eight ball with the season’s second half looming.

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There’s been little indication that the team is preparing to move on from second-year head coach Brian Shaw. That hasn’t stopped the rumor wheel from rolling through Denver, where word has spread that if the team does indeed fire Shaw, Mike D’Antoni would become an instant top candidate to replace him.

ESPN’s Raj Sharan reports that sources indicate the team isn’t quite there on Shaw, but with a restless fan base and a payroll in the top half of the NBA, the end of Shaw’s tenure is only a matter of time unless the Nuggets go on an unforeseen run of wins.

Sharan writes, “Whether you think Shaw deserves to stay or needs to go, there is indisputable disinterest from a fan base that was largely skeptical from the moment Karl was fired. That may be one reason that, according to two NBA sources, the name to keep an eye on in the unlikely event the Nuggets move away from Shaw would be Mike D’Antoni.”

We know the drill with Mike D’Antoni by now. His teams play at a blinding speed with little regard to defense, which has been both his bread-winner and his undoing at virtually every stop of his in the league. D’Antoni perfected the art of the high-paced offense in Phoenix, where he led the Suns to multiple conference championships, which cemented his status as The Coach Everyone Hires When They Want Flashy Offense.

His system never quite stood tall against the best in the league though and D’Antoni has since coached the New York Knicks for four years before picking up the pieces with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was fired after a 27-55 season with the Lakers last season. His career arc has been similar at each stop. There’s an initial bump in play followed by a gradual decline.

Apparently those failures aren’t enough to dissuade the Denver Nuggets from continuing their never-ending plunge through the purgatorial underbelly of the Western Conference. The team is a long shot to make the playoffs, but they’ll also finish well enough out of the lottery to draft a high-impact player who can turn things around. This is probably why the team is rumored to be looking for answers elsewhere.

In D’Antoni, the Nuggets are likely hoping to get a shot in the arm from a guy who’s taken teams from the pits to the top before. Unfortunately it’s been a while since those days and it’s hard to believe the rest of the NBA hasn’t thoroughly figured out D’Antoni’s system by now. But hey, good luck with that, Denver.

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