Calipari on NBA rumors: 'I'm good where I am'
University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is accustomed to his name being attached to NBA coaching carousel chatter, and on Friday he deflected the latest speculation – that he might be coveted by the New York Knicks by season’s end – in much the same way he has past rumors.
“I don’t pay attention to it,” Calipari said. “The job I have to do here, to develop these kids and get ‘em right, is all-encompassing. My focus is here and I don’t get into all that, rumors and innuendo. And it won’t be the last one that’s out there. I just don’t deal with it.”
Ken Berger, who covers the NBA for CBS Sports, wrote Thursday that if the Knicks continue to falter, “anyone can see what’s coming: Mike Woodson gets fired, company man Herb Williams becomes the interim coach and the drumbeat begins in the background for John Calipari to make his long-awaited return to the NBA.” Berger went on to note that New York’s star player, Carmelo Anthony, and much of its front office is represented by Creative Artists Agency, which also represents the UK coach.
Calipari, in his fifth season in Lexington, has turned the Cats into college basketball’s “it” program. He has signed five consecutive No. 1 recruiting classes and churned out 17 NBA draft picks, including 13 first-rounders (and counting). He makes NBA money; his current contract, which runs through 2019, pays him $5.2 million a year, more than all but three coaches in the pros made when he signed it in May of 2012, right after delivering UK’s eighth NCAA championship.
He has won big at every stop as a college coach, guiding Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky to a Final Four. His previous stop in the NBA didn’t go as well. He posted a 72-112 record as head coach of the New Jersey Nets from 1996-99, making one playoff appearance (New Jersey lost in the first round), and was fired early in his third season. So does Calipari still feel the need to prove himself at the pro level?
“I’m good where I am,” Calipari said Friday. “I’ve said it publicly. What makes this unique … I was reading a new book, and it’s about purpose – and the purpose here is real clear to me: I’m getting someone’s child, and my job is to develop them in all areas, not just on the basketball court (but) to prepare them for reaching their dreams. And when they reach their dreams, they become successful and understand the bigger picture.
“John Wall gave a million back to charity, DeMarcus Cousins gave a million back to charity when they signed contracts. And you see it here. And so my focus is on just, hey, this is what I’m doing. Here’s a purpose that is one that’s – it’s a heavy thing, because you’ve got people’s children. But this stage and what we do and how we prepare them has worked. So we’re just gonna keep working that way.”
Coach Cal's name will always come up for NBA jobs and there is logic with him maybe hooking up on a team that drafted some star players who played under him at Kentucky. No doubt he would probably like another shot at the NBA but the flipside is, he has a very lucrative college job and can be almost assured to get an elite recruiting class each year. So it might take a ridiculous offer from the NBA to tempt him if he is earning more than over 20 NBA Head Coaches doing a 30 to 40 odd game NCAA season.
The Knicks would have the resourses to put a big offer on the table for Coach Cal and it will be interesting to see what happens.
It'd be interesting to see him coach some of his former players like Cousins or Anthony Davis, but it won't be happening anytime soon, but I said the same thing about Brad Stevens and Pete Carroll.
Coach Cal has done the NBA before so for a younger guy like Brad Stevens it is a bit different and also Brad wasn't a head coach in the NCAA for the same length of time as other top Head Coaches have been so he had less ties perhaps.
At the Celtics, Brad has got the chance to mould a team with Danny Ainge and can settle into the NBA without the instant expectation of results.
The only way I see him bolting for the NBA again is if he has major NCAA infractions against him and the NCAA finally comes down on him and not the school he's coaching for.