Shawn Kemp wasn’t happy with his contract, and the SuperSonics traded him. Coach George Karl isn’t happy with his contract, and management hasn’t talked to him.
“I think it can be very, very, very much a distraction,” said Karl, who is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $3.5 million.
During the off-season, team president Wally Walker didn’t talk with Karl regarding an extension. Now that training camp has begun, Walker doesn’t plan on negotiating until after the season.
“They have not even approached that subject,” said Karl. “Basically, they have told me that they have no interest in talking to me.”
“It’s usually not appropriate to negotiate during the season,” Walker said.
Karl agreed but added: “I thought we should have talked in the summer. I don’t understand why they are putting me in a last-year, lame-duck situation. It’s not comfortable. I’m disappointed.”
In December 1996, Karl signed an extension after earning $1 million for 1995-96. The new contract gave him the highest annual salary ($3.5 million) for a coach at the time.
But in one week last summer, Karl quickly plummeted from the top of the ranks when the Celtics signed Rick Pitino ($7 million this season), the 76ers signed Larry Brown ($5 million) and the Pacers signed Larry Bird ($4.5 million).