Worst Week: George Karl or Dennis Schröder?

70-year-old George Matthew Karl hasn’t coached in five years and he hasn’t coached Carmelo Anthony in a decade. But Karl’s absence away from the game hasn’t mellowed him nor has it kept him from being triggered on an ordinary day. Hearing that Carmelo was signing with the Lakers for the explicit purpose of winning a title was a little too much for Karl who coached Anthony, and it didn’t go well at the end. Sure, the Karl-Anthony combo was responsible for six straight playoff appearances including a presence in the Western Conference Finals, but like all troubled marriages the ending was ugly as Karl made sure to hold Anthony accountable for Karl’s own failures, as detailed in the book “Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection.”

He said of Anthony: “He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it. He really lit my fuse with his low demand of himself on defense. He had no commitment to the hard dirty work of stopping the other guy. My ideal- probably every coach’s ideal- is when your best player is also your leader. But since Carmelo only played hard on one side of the ball, he made it plain he couldn’t lead the Nuggets, even though he said he wanted to.”

Basically, Karl was saying Carmelo failed in the leadership department- not a surprise. And that he sucked on defense. Again, not a surprise. But to my way of thinking, a coach that is truly gifted has the ability to pull out of a player something he didn’t know was lurking inside of him, so yeah, blame Melo but blame the man in the mirror too.

Once Melo joined the Lakers, Karl was on Twitter with what he thought were receipts.  Innocently, Melo said that what keeps him up at night is winning a title. Incredulous at such an idea, Karl clapped back “And it kept our coaching staff up at night a decade ago when we were stressing the importance of team play and defense.” Karl followed it up with a laughing emoji but it didn’t feel funny, just bitter by a coach whose once-upon-a-time star player is still getting reps while Karl is retired.

Karl tried to clean it up. “I’ve said it before- one of the great scorers the game has ever seen. He’s a HOFer and his Jersey should hang up in Denver. He Wasn’t a team first player or good defender here in Denver. And it upset us when he asked for a trade especially after I was sick.”

Karl then went on to say- wanting sympathy perhaps?- he has gotten death threats and “rot in hell” responses after his Melo bitterness. Karl tried to deflect with grace but it still felt passive-aggressive.

“Melo was a great player but he was an individualist…so I just poked the bear a little bit. I did stir the pot this time. I don’t want to ever want to go down a negative road and maybe I did this time.”

Really? You think.

If George Karl thinks Denver failed because Melo was at fault, he’s partly right. In those years, Melo was an offensive player and the worst defensive power forward (Defensive Real Plus-Minus) in the league during the 2006-07 season. Melo was the third-worst power forward defender in 2007-08, and he was ranked 53rd in 2008-09.

Karl is a tough-as-nails dude who survived a ridiculous cancer. Karl expected loyalty at his worst moment but the human psyche isn’t wired that way. People think of themselves. He writes on Twitter about death threats as if it’s a shocking thing on social media for fans to be deputized and burn the house down.

For the record. Melo isn’t the reason George Karl didn’t win a title. Blame, Kobe, Shaq, and Phil Jackson.

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Is Dennis Schröder “shell shocked” about his fall from financial grace or are we? I mean, he turned down $85 million because he wanted $100 million and the reaction has been brutal. Schröder is being called stupid, greedy, imbecilic, and lacking the basic understanding of his own worth. Not to mention, disrespecting the Lakers.

Let’s check out the Schröder bio. He was a first-round pick in 2013. He’s played for three teams in eight years and has never been an All-Star. While he was a top-10 defender in the backcourt last season, he was the 26th best point guard. His shot is streaky, he doesn’t press his advantage all the time and while he has a motor he can pout on the court and be moody. He helped the Lakers which is why they offered him the extension but they weren’t going to pay him more than what Lonzo Ball was worth on the open market.

Schröder had two points of interest. The Bulls and the Knicks. When the Bulls signed Lonzo Ball they had to then sign a scorer because of Ball’s deficiencies. Once they inked DeMar DeRozan it was the Knicks for Schröder. Or bust. While the Knicks did see Schröder’s upside, they got Kemba Walker on the cheap once he and OKC negotiated a buyout. Kemba is making $3 million more than Schroder’s worst-case scenario- the mid-level $5.9 million with the Celtics. If he plays well next season, the C’s will offer him around $60 million in a multi-year contract, far less than what the Lakers were offering.

Schröder’s brain freeze affected Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell Pope, and Alex Caruso. Had he taken the extension, the trade market would have included smaller fish and not an All-Star player like Russell Westbrook. Schroder hurt himself and he hurt his teammates as well.

What Schröder did to himself was a self-inflicted knife to the throat, and a cautionary tale agents will preach about to their clients.  It’s sexy to say you are betting on yourself and Schröder had a good year with the Lakers but not a great year. My sense is that the money was always a smokescreen, even now, as he is being humiliated publicly. Schröder didn’t want to be in L.A. He could have negotiated incentives that would have given him close to that $100 million mark he coveted. But the Lakers were that rebound chick you use after a breakup to get you something better.

Except in this case, Schröder didn’t understand the difference between worth and value. He confused the two, thinking he had high value when in effect he had low worth. Worth is the dollar amount negotiated based upon his importance. The Celtics said his value may be high but the dollar amount, at least for a year, won’t be. Greed is good.

Except when it isn’t.