Denver Nuggets George Karl, center, is congratulated by his players...

Denver Nuggets George Karl, center, is congratulated by his players after defeating the Toronto Raptors during an NBA basketball game. (Dec. 10, 2010) Credit: AP

 DENVER (AP) - Nuggets coach George Karl missed the final 1½ months of last season while battling a form of throat cancer. This season began with the rumors swirling around All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

Through the turmoil, Karl admitted there were times he didn't know whether he would remain long term with the Nuggets.

But everything has worked out for Karl.

His health is much better, Anthony was traded last month to the New York Knicks for a bevy of assets, and Karl has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain in Denver.

"There were many days that I said, 'This can't work out. This is not good for anybody,'" Karl said Wednesday after practice. "I tip my hat to Josh (Kroenke, Denver's president) and Masai (Ujiri, Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations) for having the trust in themselves to get something done that was good for me, for them. And it was a team decision, a unified decision. And right now, it's got everybody pretty fired up."

Karl, 59, who has been with the Nuggets since January 2005, was due to become a free agent after the season. His extension is for three years, through the 2013-14 season. There are three one-year team options after that on a deal that could take Karl through 2016-17.

Karl, who has the third-longest tenure of any active NBA coach behind San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Boston's Doc Rivers, could be 66 when his contract expires. While Karl said he hopes to retire from the NBA with the Nuggets, he couldn't guarantee he will want to fulfill the life of his contract.

"I don't know," said Karl, the NBA's second-winningest active coach after the Lakers' Phil Jackson. "There's a part of me that says I hope I don't fulfill all six of them. But then I say to myself, 'What else would I do?' I'll probably coach somewhere else at a lower level" after the NBA.

Karl, who is 315-199 in seven seasons with the Nuggets and has a career mark of 1,023-698 over 23 years, was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in January 2010 and publicly announced it in February 2010. Karl overcame prostate cancer in 2005.

When Karl returned to the Nuggets this season, he encountered the drama of Anthony seeking to be dealt. In a three-team trade Feb. 22, which also included Minnesota, Anthony and guard Chauncey Billups were among five players sent by the Nuggets to New York in a move that netted Denver five players, including guard Raymond Felton and forwards Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler.

"To me, it's been a pretty amazing three or four weeks," Karl said. "It seems like the spirit of everything is moving in a very positive direction for me. It's kind of a closure on a bad year and hopefully starting into a great year and a great run. ... Coaches usually don't get two chapters. I think the Melo era, the chapter is a lot of excellent basketball, a lot of good wins, a lot of good situations.

"But I think everybody now is happy about the newness of what's happening."

The Nuggets (37-27) are 5-2 since the blockbuster trade. At Wednesday's practice, Denver players offered best wishes to their coach for getting his deal done.

"Everybody congratulated him. Everybody's happy for him," guard J.R. Smith said. "It's good for us and it's good for the organization."
Guard Ty Lawson said Karl was "walking around smiling" during practice. Lawson said the stability of knowing Karl will be around is another important step for the Nuggets after all the turmoil they went through with the Anthony situation.

"It's a lot different because we know who's going to be here right now besides a couple of players that have extensions and stuff for next year or whatever," Lawson said. "For the most part, we know exactly who's going to be here. So we can just grow together."

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