Karl ready to talk with K-Mart after playoff suspension
DENVER -- Enough time has passed since a confrontation with Kenyon Martin, and George Karl is ready to mend the relationship.
The Denver Nuggets head coach suspended Martin for the final three playoff games against the Los Angeles Clippers last spring for insubordination and hasn't spoken to him since. Karl said he wanted things to cool off before they spoke.
However, Karl is hoping their paths soon cross.
"Hopefully we'll be able to work it out," said Karl, who was watching the Nuggets' summer-league team practice Sunday at the Pepsi Center. "There's a high likelihood that he could be part of the team come October. He's got to be ready for that, and I've got to be ready for that."
Carmelo Anthony has even agreed to play the role of mediator, should his services be needed.
When told of that, Karl just smiled.
"That's fine," Karl said.
Martin and Karl had a heated confrontation during halftime of Game 2 in Los Angeles. Martin, who played a career-low 56 games last season thanks to microfracture surgery on his left knee, was irritated over playing limited minutes in the playoffs.
Soon after the outburst, Karl suspended him.
One of the glaring questions this offseason was whether Karl and Martin could repair the rift between them. Martin still has five years left on the seven-year, $93 million deal he signed before Karl joined the Nuggets. The high price tag makes trading him difficult.
So Karl and Martin have to find a way to work together. Karl thinks some type of understanding can be reached.
"I'm just trying to coach my team and Kenyon's a part of the team," Karl said.
One player that Karl will be able to coach for years to come is Anthony after the Nuggets signed him to a contract extension Saturday. The Nuggets worked out the parameters of a five-year deal worth approximately $80 million. Anthony can't officially sign the contract until July 12.
Karl was glad to see a deal take place.
"He's a special player," Karl said. "Everybody wants to keep him in Denver forever. He's earned that by what he's done."
Anthony, 22, was named to the third team all-NBA last season when he averaged 26.5 points a game. Anthony, taken with the third pick in the 2003 draft, is averaging 22.8 points in his career.
Yet Anthony has never helped the Nuggets win a playoff series. The team has been eliminated in the first round the past three years.
"He's very disappointed ... and challenged by that," Karl said.
During a news conference last week, Anthony was asked about his relationship with Karl and more specifically, if he was getting acclimated to Karl's coaching methods.
"I've learned to deal with George and his style," Anthony said. "He has his own way of going about [coaching]. He wants to win. He wants to make players better."
Karl said all he asks for is an honest day's effort.
"The only guys I've ever really had trouble with are guys who don't play hard and don't like to practice," Karl said. "I think Melo likes to play and likes to practice and so I don't think we'll ever have a problem.
"Sometimes as a coach you push your players to be better and sometimes you cross the line, and sometimes they cross the line on not giving enough competitive spirit."
The Nuggets held their first practice for the summer league on Sunday at the Pepsi Center. Notable names on the roster include Casey Jacobsen (Stanford), John Gilchrist (Maryland) and Antoine Hood (Air Force). ... Julius Hodge is on the summer-league roster, but didn't practice Sunday. Hodge, who was shot four times April 8 while driving on a Denver freeway after he left a nightclub, said he's almost back to full health. "I'm feeling good on the court, and looking good as usual," Hodge said with a smile. Karl said after watching him practice last week that Hodge looked rusty. ... Ricky Sanchez didn't practice Sunday after needing 20 stitches to close a head wound he suffered Friday in drills. Sanchez bumped heads with a teammate. ... After not being drafted last Wednesday, Hood said he's happy for a chance to play for Denver. "This is a great location, not far from home," said Hood, who helped the Air Force into the NCAA Tournament last March.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press