Kentucky coach John Calipari was very quick to deny a Tuesday morning report from Yahoo Sports that states the Sacramento Kings and Calipari have been in communication the past few weeks regarding the possibility of Sacramento bringing on Calipari to both coach the team and run the front office.
“For the 100th time, I have the best basketball coaching position in the world,” Calipari said in a statement. “I am not looking for any other coaching position. Since he bought the team, Vivek Ranadive and I have talked on and off about DeMarcus Cousins. Vivek has asked me what I thought about DeMarcus and I told him he would be an all-star, and I was right. In the last two weeks, we’ve also talked a bunch about the draft and on draft day, obviously because of Willie Cauley-Stein. At no time has Vivek offered me a job. I will be at Kentucky.”
Calipari, who just had six of his players drafted last Thursday, and who’s coming off a 38-1 season, finds his name attached to yet another possible NBA opening. It’s an annual rumor mill regarding Cal, who coached the New Jersey Nets for two and a half seasons in the late 1990s and finished with a 72-112 record.
Since then, he’s been arguably the most powerful man in college hoops and essentially redefined success and written the new book when it comes to recruiting.
But why Sacramento, of all teams? The Kings’ coach, George Karl, has reportedly been in dispute over what to do with the team’s enigmatic but wildly talented star, DeMarcus Cousins. Karl was hired by the Kings mid-season, in February.
Cousins played at Kentucky under Calipari for one season, his first in Lexington, in 2009-10. In May, Calipari publicly denied any interest in coaching the New Orleans Pelicans, who employ former Calipari players Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans. At the time, Calipari said he had no interest in any NBA job. Calipari’s restructured contract, which went into effect last summer, will pay him $7.05 million — before incentives — this upcoming season.
The deal goes through 2020-21 and will pay more than $8 million annually beginning in 2018.
From Yahoo’s report:
Calipari has listened to scenarios with which the Kings could offer him complete control of the franchise’s fledgling operations to go along with coaching, league sources said. No formal offer has been made to Calipari, and Kings ownership understands that it will take a multiyear financial package of $10 million-plus annually to get Calipari to seriously consider leaving Kentucky, sources said. In recent weeks, Sacramento ownership’s intrigue with Calipari has only grown with the dissolution of the relationship between All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins and coach George Karl, sources said.
Among other things, Ranadive has talked extensively with Calipari about how best to deal with Cousins, and communicated with him about the Kings’ first-round pick, center Willie Cauley-Stein, in Thursday’s NBA draft, sources said.
Vivek Ranadive is the owner of the Kings, a man who labels himself as an outside-the-box thinker. But he’s hardly the first to flirt with Calipari at the NBA level in the past half-decade.
Calipari reportedly turned down another NBA job last summer — the Cleveland Cavaliers’. He made his decision to say no to an eight-year offer from the Cavs before LeBron James made his choice to return to the team.
Last week, Calipari completed his 2015 recruiting class by landing five-star Canadian guard Jamal Murray. That commitment cemented UK at the top of the 2015 recruiting-class standings at 247 Sports.