John Calipari already tried coaching in the NBA once, and it didn’t go well. After winning the Naismith College Coach of the Year Award in 1996, Calipari went on to compile a record of 72-112 in less than three seasons with the New Jersey Nets. According to one report, he was fairly close to giving the NBA another shot last week.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Brett Dawson of Yahoo Sports claim Calipari was “deep in discussions” with the Cleveland Cavaliers before he finalized a contract extension with Kentucky last week. He had even reportedly outlined the terms of a potential agreement with the Cavs that would be worth $60 million-plus over seven years and make him president of basketball operations as well as head coach.
Calipari, who signed a seven-year, $52 million extension with the Wildcats, was offered more than $8 million per season from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. That would have placed him among the highest-paid coaches in the league. Calipari was said to be “intrigued” by the offer, but there is some speculation that he may have been concerned over how he would mesh with a hands-on owner like Gilbert.
Had Kentucky defeated UConn and won a national championship in April, it probably would have been easier to lure Calipari away. Now that the Harrison twins are returning to Lexington for their sophomore seasons and the Wildcats are easily the No. 1 team in the country heading into next season, Calipari probably wants to stick around. It’s a shame he’ll have to settle for only $7 million-plus per season.