Some quick thoughts on the John Calipari contract extension, which (so far) tops today’s news:
It doesn’t mean anything. It really doesn’t.
Whether the new deal extends the agreement to eight years or 88 years, John Calipari can still go to the NBA if he so chooses. Whether the compensation is a promised $35 million or $355 million, Calipari can still go the NBA if he chooses.
If Calipari ever departs for a second crack at the professional ranks, it will having nothing to do with money and everything to do with wanting to prove he can coach there.
After all, Cal’s first try, his brief and tumultuous run with the New Jersey Nets, did not end well. The coach loves to prove people wrong, and there are plenty of people who believe he would never cut it in the pros. I’m sure there’s at least a little piece of Calipari that would love to prove those barking dogs wrong.
Do I think Calipari has his bags packed? No. He doesn’t figure to hit the bricks anytime soon. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility that some day he tries on another challenge for size. After all, according to the new terms of the contract, if Calipari left tomorrow he would only owe UK $1 million, or three percent of his earnings should he have completed the agreement. If Calipari waves farewell after March 31, 2014, he doesn’t owe the university a cent. And his contract runs until 2019.
So why award Calipari a contract extension with a raise? Well, the coach has done a phenomenal job reversing the current here. But this has more to do with Mitch Barnhart and UK than it does with Calipari and his future. With whispers circulating that Calipari and Barnhart are not the best of friends, the AD shows his approval by carving Cal a larger slice from the money machine. The school shows recruits it believes Calipari will keep his parking space for the long haul and has made a monetary commitment to that end.
But to me, that’s all this is – a show. As I said earlier today, I’m a bit numb to such exhibitions when it comes to these contract stories. Look in the daily “transactions” column on your sports agate page and you’ll find some school giving some coach an extension of some sort. It’s Monopoly money. It means very little.
Here’s an example.
On April 26, 2008, then Memphis coach John Calipari signed a contract extension that took his deal through the 2012-13 season as the city rejoiced. Included in the new agreement was a retention bonus of $5 million if Cal completed the contract.
He left the very next year for Kentucky.
Why? Because Calipari wanted to prove he could coach here.
And that’s the only reason he would leave for the NBA, if that day were to ever come.