By now, you’ve probably heard Yahoo’s report that before John Calipari signed a new deal with Kentucky last week, he was in “deep” negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers to become team president and head coach.
So this obviously means that Calipari is not going to the NBA, right?
In fact, it means very little.
Do I expect Calipari to return as Kentucky next season? Absolutely. Do I expect Calipari to remain at UK for the length of his contract and never return to the NBA? Who knows.
In today’s world of sports, contracts are meaningless.
At the Final Four, when asked about Rex Chapman’s tweet saying it was a “done deal” that Calipari was leaving UK for the Lakers, Calipari dismissed the report out of hand. The next week, he said he had no intention of leaving Kentucky.
On May 1, Calipari tweeted: “Before it starts, I’m totally committed to helping this group of young men reach their dreams. I wouldn’t and couldn’t leave this group!”
And yet, according to Yahoo, a month later, he thought seriously about leaving Kentucky for the Cavaliers.
I still think there is a part of Calipari that wants to prove that he can succeed in the NBA. He loves proving people wrong, and after being fired by the Nets in his only pro coaching job, Calipari would no doubt love to show the basketball world that the Nets made a mistake.
I also think that despite all its benefits, the Kentucky coaching job is a taxing existence. And Calipari does everything at UK full-on: recruiting, media, camps, promotions. He’s rarely on break. Add to that the constant merry-go-round of the one-and-dones.
It’s not out of the question that down the road, he would either want a break or become restless for something else.
The guess here is that there were too many question marks with Cleveland. Will Kyrie Irving re-sign? What will the Cavs do with its No. 1 draft pick in June? Is the return of LeBron to the Cavs a pipe dream? How would it be working for a hands-on owner in Dan Gilbert?
Kentucky is the safer bet. The Cats expect to be very good next season. Calipari could be right back in the Final Four for the fourth time in the last five years.
After that, who knows with coaches, never mind the contract.
Photo of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert by AP.