For the first time since 1999, John Calipari could be head coach of the NBA.
Yahoo Sports’ Ben Rohrback and Vincent Goodwill report that multiple sources have said “Calipari would be ready to return to the NBA.”
Since 2000, Calipari has been a college coach in Memphis (2000-09) and Kentucky (2009-present). During those stints, he led his teams to great success, winning an NCAA title in 2012 and qualifying for the Final Four five times.
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So why would Calipari leave? As Rohrback and Goodwill have explained, executives believe he might want to return to the NBA after “maximizing” Kentucky.
“He may have peaked in Kentucky,” a senior executive told Yahoo Sports.
“College basketball is a sinking ship,” another executive told Yahoo Sports. “It’s very different from his first round, but that ego is hard to tame. “
Calipari’s three-year stint with the Nets didn’t go very well, as he landed a 72-112 record and only reached the playoffs once, losing on a sweep of three games in the first round. He was fired in 1999 and spent 2000 as an assistant to the 76ers before returning to college football.
But with 20 more years of coaching experience under his belt, Calipari, 62, might be in a better position to make the leap to the NBA. He has a great understanding of young players since his time at Kentucky, so he may be able to help coach some of the youth teams looking for a new coach.
He also has many connections with Kentucky stars across the NBA, such as Anthony Davis, John Wall, and Karl-Anthony Towns, among others. This might appeal to teams looking to recruit a star for them in free agency or in the commercial market.
There are six vacancies at the NBA level. If Calipari is indeed considering positions in the NBA, teams will surely have an interest in at least interviewing him.
Will Calipari join the ranks of the NBA as the next great college coach to take the plunge? Either way, Calipari’s name is one to watch as the teams begin their search for coaches in earnest.