Prior to the NCAA Championship game in which the Kentucky Wildcats are facing off against the UConn Huskies, a rumor surfaced regarding a coach and the Los Angeles Lakers. No, it is unfortunately not news that Mike D’Antoni is going to resign his position as head coach, but that John Calipari is supposedly going to be hired as the next Lakers’ coach, win or lose tonight.
Calipari is certainly a well-known figure throughout the entire basketball world. He has bounced around a bit as he received his first head coaching gig at the University of Massachusetts, where he coached the future NBA star, Marcus Camby. After finding shocking success at the university, Calipari was hired as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets in his very first NBA coaching job. Sadly, he did not find the same success at the professional level as he did at UMass, thus resulting in his termination two years into the job. In 2000, Calipari returned to where he originally gained his reputation, college basketball.
He coached the University of Memphis basketball team from 2000-2009, until finally ending up at the University of Kentucky from 2009 up until present day. The year of 2012 was big as the Wildcats, lead by Anthony Davis, took the National Championship game vs. the Kansas Jayhawks. Tonight, Calipari has once again found himself in the championship game coaching a remix version of the Michigan Fab Five. This team has made it to the big stage unusually starting five freshman players who have fought adversity all season long. Being ranked No. 1 overall at the start of the season was distant memory headed into the tournament as the Wildcats grabbed a mediocre No. 8 seed. However, the team seems to have found their stride at the perfect time as they battle the Huskies for Calipari’s second championship.
Now, in come the Lakers, who may or may not have a coaching vacancy at the conclusion of their tumultuous season. Los Angeles has recorded a historic worst 25-52 record thus far, and with only a few games remaining, it is way too late to turn things around. Such an awful season will likely result in a top-five pick in this year’s NBA Draft and possible firing of D’Antoni. The question Lakers’ management is facing is whether or not the retain D’Antoni, allowing him to ride out the final year of his three-year contract. If they ultimately decide to terminate the contract, hiring Calipari does make some sense. He is a proven leader, who has the formula to utilize his big men. Making this move may possibly attract free agents such as Jordan Hill and Pau Gasol this offseason, who have been vocal regarding their distaste for D’Antoni. Hill has even gone on the record stating he will not return if things do not change.
Currently, I do not believe that this is a ‘done deal’ by any means. I would not doubt if the two parties have had minimal contact in recent weeks, but who knows. I’m confident Lakers fans would applaud such a move, though. If he is indeed hired, Calipari will likely face the toughest challenge of his career, coaching one of the most storied franchises in sports history.