The Denver Nuggets might not have coach George Karl back on the sideline until the playoffs begin next month.
Karl is undergoing treatment for throat and neck cancer and, according to a blog by his girlfriend, he was hospitalized this week with blood clots in his lungs and a leg.
Adrian Dantley has served as acting head coach for eight games since Karl announced just after the All-Star break that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Dantley is 5-3 in those games.
The Nuggets (47-24) are tied with Dallas in second place in the Western Conference standings and are clinging to a one-game lead over the Utah Jazz in the Northwest Division. They've lost two straight games, at home against Milwaukee, and at New York on Tuesday night, which kicked off a crucial five-game trip.
Karl, who beat prostate cancer a few years ago, is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatment and has missed the Nuggets' last three games.
Karl's partner, Kim Van Deraa, wrote on her blog that Karl had to be rushed to the hospital on Sunday afternoon because he had difficulty breathing and one of his legs was extremely swollen. She wrote that he was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and leg and that he underwent a procedure to place a filter in his stomach that would catch any blood clots.
Karl was much improved by Monday night, Van Deraa wrote. She said, however, that they weren't sure when he would be released or when his radiation treatment would continue.
"We're hoping both occur — since it would mean he's gotten through the scare of the blood clots and we don't want to add any weeks onto the schedule of radiation," Van Deraa wrote in her blog, which was first cited by the Denver Post.
The Nuggets return from their trip on March 30 and play four of their last six games at home. Their regular season ends April 13.
The Nuggets also hope to have defensive stalwart Kenyon Martin back in mid-April in time for the playoffs. Martin has been sidelined by patella tendinitis in his left knee and underwent a dose of platelet-rich plasma therapy recently.
He will meet with doctors next week at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail to see if he needs another dose that could delay his return to the basketball court.
NETS FANS CAN TRADE IN BAGS: New Jersey Nets chief executive Brett Yormark isn't one to let a marketing opportunity go astray.
Two days after a brief finger-pointing exchange with a fan who wore a paper bag on his head to protest the Nets' dismal season, Yormark came prepared for more potential protesters during Wednesday's game against Sacramento.
Any fan who put a paper bag on his head would be offered a nylon Nets' bag containing a poster, a pack of player trading cards and a printed note from Yormark that said:
"Thanks for letting us see your face. We hope to see it more often at Nets' games."
Nets spokesman Barry Baum said two people accepted the exchange offer by halftime.