Calipari squashes rumors of leaving for NBA


UK head coach John Calipari said coaching for UK is the best coaching job in sports, and he does not plan to leave any time soon. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Anthony Crawford

Every year UK brings in a top ranked recruiting class full of NBA prospects. After a rumored offer from the Brooklyn Nets this past weekend, it seems NBA executives have been overlooking  UK players and are instead looking right at the head of the basketball program − John Calipari.

The Hall of Fame coach has built a resume at UK that includes a national championship, four Final Fours in five years and three No. 1 overall selections in the NBA Draft.

But with every final four and lottery pick, Calipari becomes more and more desirable to the movers and shakers in the NBA. The rumored offers keep coming in, and many in the Big Blue Nation fear Calipari might eventually take one in an attempt to redeem himself from one of the few blotches of his career, his failed stint with the Nets from 1996-99.

The latest rumor surfaced Sunday with the Nets taking interest in Calipari. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the current UK head coach is at the top of their lists for a replacement after firing head coach Lionel Hollins and reassigning general manager Billy King.

Having received multiple offers since being at UK, Calipari is no stranger to the coaching carousel.

In 2014, Calipari was offered a job from the Cleveland Cavaliers with a roster that included perhaps the greatest player of our generation in LeBron James and All-Star Kyrie Irving.

In the summer of 2015, Calipari was approached by the Sacramento Kings. The job offer had the added bonus of being able to coach former UK standouts DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein.

The NBA interest in Calipari that summer didn’t stop with just the Kings. After the New Orleans Pelicans fired their head coach Monty Williams, UK’s head coach was again linked to the job opening of coaching former UK player Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans, who played under Calipari while he was at Memphis.

After it was released by league sources that it will likey take an offer of $11 million-plus a year to get his attention, Brooklyn’s offer of a ten-year, $120 million contract is the highest offer yet, but the team roster pales in comparison to past offers.

The Nets currently rank second to last in the Eastern Conference, and the road to rebuilding looks to be a bumpy one with the team not having a first round draft pick until 2019.

UK, on the other hand, looks to be another super-team next year because of its recruiting class. The class includes two top five players in point guard De’Aaron Fox and shooting guard Malik Monk, and five players total in the top 30.

On Monday morning Calipari tweeted this out to put the rumors to rest: “You may have heard me say this before: I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time.”

With Calipari’s potentially best recruiting class on the way and the $54 million extension he signed in May, the pull to stay in Lexington could outweigh his desire of redemption in the NBA.

“Anytime you can have a championship culture, anytime you can be in the hunt for championships or in this case in college in recruiting, you have one of the best jobs,” Calipari said. “You don’t have to put fans in the seats, you don’t have to raise money. Just coach basketball. It’s a great job, and one that I appreciate having and am humbled to be here.”