George Karl lost his star, his leader and nearly a third of his roster in the blockbuster deal that dismantled and disrupted his perennial playoff team.
The Denver Nuggets coach hasn't lost his exuberance.
Karl is relishing the thought of figuring out on the fly just how to put the pieces back together following the three-team swap that sent All-Star Carmelo Anthony and floor leader Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks.
In spite of the shakeup, Karl vigorously insists the Nuggets can remain in the thick of the playoff hunt over the final 24 games of the season.
"I might be crazy, but I think we can make the playoffs and I also think we can be a threat to win in the playoffs," said Karl, who ducked out of Wednesday's first practice with his new cast of players early in order to make an appointment. "I'm sorry. I just think our guys are good enough to grow up fast and to learn quick and to get excited about playing the game."
Karl has been spending plenty of time in the film room since the 13-player deal, not scouting upcoming opponents but getting to know the players he inherited.
To mesh this team together, Karl needed to see just what he was receiving from the Knicks in Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov. Denver also acquired Kosta Koufos from Minnesota, and the center attended practice Wednesday as well.
No longer do the Nuggets have that bona fide scorer, a superstar such as Anthony who averaged 25 points a game. And gone is the leadership skills of Billups, a hometown hero who was only reluctantly included in the trade.
Now, the team has an abundance of wing players and size. The trick will be quickly integrating the newcomers into the mix.
To facilitate that, Karl is even contemplating using a lineup of all the Knicks players Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, just to give them a degree of familiarity.
HAWKS LAND HINRICH: The struggling Atlanta Hawks acquired guard Kirk Hinrich from Washington in a five-player trade Wednesday, upgrading their backcourt for the playoff run. The Hawks also received forward Hilton Armstrong in exchange for guard Mike Bibby, rookie guard Jordan Crawford, swingman Maurice Evans and a first-round pick in this year's draft.
LANDRY GOES TO HORNETS: The Hornets and Kings have agreed to on a trade as Sacramento is sending forward Carl Landry to New Orleans in exchange for shooting guard Marcus Thornton and cash considerations. The move gives the playoff-contending Hornets depth in the front court, but at the cost of a popular former LSU star who can score in a flurry.
NETS TRADE AWAY MURPHY: The Nets and Warriors have made a trade that sends Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric to New Jersey for Troy Murphy and a 2012 second-round pick. Golden State is expected to buy out Murphy's contract to make him a free agent. Wright's and Gadzuric's contracts — worth about $11 million combined this year, close to the same as Murphy's — also expire at the end of the season and help New Jersey clear salary cap space.