I just want to begin this rant by stating the obvious, John Calipari has not officially commented on whether or not he has interest in the newly vacated Brooklyn Nets head coaching job. If he does at some point comment, interested in the position or not, this is why I think he will not be leaving Kentucky Wildcats for the NBA, at least not for the Nets.
After losing 10 of 13 games to kick off the month of December, the Nets fired now former coach Avery Johnson on Thursday afternoon, and are now in the hunt for a new person to coach the team that was supposed to make basketball crazy New York City forget about the one team they’ve loved – whether or not they deserve it – for decades, that plays across the East River. While the Knicks and Nets have had some memorable games to begin the season, the Nets are just 14-14, and Johnson ended his two-plus years at the helm with a miserable 60-116 record.
As Nets CEO Brett Yormark apologized via Twitter after the Nets loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, he promised that “we will get there.” Although Yormark is more involved in the business aspect than the basketball aspect – just to be clear, Jay-Z is involved in neither – he is a known fan of Calipari, and with the new opening, rumors have already begun to circulate that Calipari could wind up replacing Johnson. He would have to like the idea of coaching a team with proven All-Stars like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace.
While Calipari’s name tends to hit the surface whenever major NBA openings come about, he’s been tied to jobs in the New York area mainly due to his CAA affiliation, and his flair for the bravado. Calipari coached the Nets (then in New Jersey) for a bit less than three seasons from 1996 through 1999, but has achieved tremendous success with both Kentucky and Memphis since returning to the college ranks in 2000.
I do believe that his dominance at the top of the college basketball world – let’s face it, it doesn’t get much better than winning championships at Kentucky – combined with his stellar recruiting classes for the next couple of years will keep Calipari in Lexington. I also think his knowledge that Nets GM Billy King will have most of the say on personnel decisions is what will ultimately keep Coach Cal away. As much as Yormark admires Calipari, King has control over the coaching decision, and will more than likely look for someone who only has interest in coaching the players provided for him.
Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote earlier that Calipari, who does love New York, won’t return to the NBA until he’s granted complete control of front office moves. With a roster with minimal space for movement, this team looks like they’re going to be in place for a while, or at least until King is able to trade the ballooned contracts of forward Kris Humphries and center Brook Lopez somewhere to try and acquire a real big man for their championship aspirations.
Bottom line, I think Calipari has a much better situation with Kentucky, where he’ll be able to legitimately compete for a championship almost every season; as opposed to playing second fiddle in a huge basketball city where he won’t have much say over the talent he’s coaching. I don’t think Cal’s itching to get back to the NBA as badly as he wants to have control over a reputable basketball franchise, and unfortunately, the Nets don’t meet that criteria as not only will he be unable to make decisions, but they’re not quite a reputable franchise.
Keep living the dream John, the NBA will continue to come calling.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth