If returning to the arena he loved coaching in so much wasn’t emotional enough, George Karl was bested by one of his former Denver assistants.
Interim coach Melvin Hunt was the opposing coach as the Kings fell to the Nuggets 122-111 on Sunday at Pepsi Center.
Hunt was retained by Brian Shaw when Karl was fired after the 2012-13 season. Hunt took over as interim coach March 3 when Shaw was fired.
Karl said the Nuggets under Hunt have played more like the Nuggets teams he coached.
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“Melvin has always had the IQ to be a head coach,” Karl said. “The opportunity, you never know when it comes.”
Hunt, who went back to playing the fast-paced style Karl used in his final seasons with the Nuggets, credits Karl with helping groom him as a coach.
“He has showed me a lot of things – that it is OK to not be traditional,” Hunt said. “There were times being around George Karl that he so badly wanted to do things against the grain. He didn’t always want to do it the way it’s supposed to be, or follow the so-called rules. Instead, he did it the way he believed.”
Hunt will be considered for the full-time job after the season.
If Hunt is retained, he won’t be afraid to try new things, thanks to what he learned from Karl.
“He helped me with that and to understand that it is OK to be that way,” Hunt said. “He has meant a lot to me and has showed me to coach the way I believe, and I owe him a lot for that. We have had some wonderful conversations over the year outside of basketball, and he has been really good for me.”
Stockton back in fold – Rookie guard David Stockton signed with the Kings on Sunday and entered the game in the fourth quarter. He played seven minutes and had two points and an assist.
Stockton signed for the final three games of this season and next season, which is not guaranteed.
It’s Stockton’s second stint with the Kings. He was called up from the Reno Bighorns on a 10-day contract in February.
Home finale – Tonight’s game against the Lakers is the last of the season at Sleep Train Arena. With a win, the Kings would be 18-23 at home, a game better than last season.
The Kings will have to beat a team that, like them, has been hit hard by injuries lately.
The Kings can match last season’s win total on the road by beating the Lakers at Staples Center on Wednesday.