Recent rumors have connected Kentucky head coach John Calipari to the heading coaching gig with the Los Angeles Lakers. Calipari has dipped into the pro ranks before — an unsuccessful stint with the New Jersey Nets before returning to the collegiate level. While he has had a lot of success in the NCAA, he would not be a good fit with the Lakers organization.
There is no doubt that the Lakers need a new coach after this season, someone who can generate excitement for the future of the franchise. Some believe that Calipari can be that guy. He has put Kentucky back on the map, and annually recruits the top players to come and play for him. He has coached stars such as Derrick Rose, John Wall, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. He has won a national championship, and been to the Final Four on multiple occasions. But despite having the best talent on the court every game, Calipari does little to distinguish himself.
Calipari utilizes a version of the dribble drive motion offense, but relies too much being more talented than the opposition. He has struggled to get his players to buy into the team concept, leading to a lack of team unity. His teams often look disorganized and play with little to no structure. This type of freedom can stall offenses for long periods of time, expecting the star players to bail the team out.
He thrives on having the more talented team, but his recruiting efforts will only go so far in the NBA. The Lakers are considered a top organization, but too many pieces would have to fall into place for them to have all of the elite players year in and year out. With Kobe Bryant occupying a large chunk of the salary cap, it is unlikely to happen for a while. Calipari has yet to prove that he can win with a level playing field.
The fact that he only has one national championship with the amount of talent he has coached is unimpressive. Yes, most of them are freshmen, but they are also the best players in the country. His only national championship came when he had arguably the best college basketball player in recent years, in Davis. That team also had the second pick in the draft that year, as well as other first-round picks.
Kentucky is one of the hardest jobs in the country, but being in Los Angeles takes it to another level. Calipari would not be in control of the organization, and would have to answer to the owner and general manager. He would be unable to produce the results that the organization demands, and would not be successful as the head coach. He has created a great situation for himself at Kentucky, and the Lakers would be wise to pass on him.