At this point in the NBA season is usually when the rumors start to pick up about whom some of the likely fired head coaches will be replaced by, and John Calipari is almost always apart of those rumors. He has tried his hand in the NBA before for the Nets in the late 90’s with very little success. Because of his great consistent success at the college level his name is still brought up regularly in said rumors. This season is no different as rumors are swirling about him making an NBA return to coach the Los Angeles Lakers, but Calipari quickly squashed these rumors right after the National Champions game ended Monday night.
The rumors started after former Kentucky player Rex Chapman tweeted that he heard Calipari would be the next coach of the Lakers. It’s a believable story as the Lakers are enduring their worst season since moving from Minnesota to LA and might be looking to move on from current coach Mike D’Antoni. Whether or not Calipari is on the short list to replace him is unknown at this point but the Lakers could do worse than a coach who has a great ability to manage big egos and getting his stars to play as a cohesive unit. He showed that this season at Kentucky as he coached 8 potential NBA players all the way to the final of the tournament after a very mediocre regular season for a team that started the year as the number one team in the country.
No coach in college basketball has a tougher job this time of year than Kentucky coach John Calipari. He has built a system at Kentucky of recruiting mostly players who leave for the NBA after only one year in college and because of that he has to be recruiting almost an entirely new roster each and every year. So instead of being able to reflect on how close he came to another National Championship on Monday night he has to put all of his efforts into building for next year because he could have as many as 6 or 7 of his players leave for the NBA draft. His job is not made any easier when he has to answer potential recruits questions about whether or not he will still be the coach next season.
As usual Calipari has put together an excellent recruiting class for next season but will still be looking to improve it, as he does not yet have an idea of who on his current roster will be leaving early for the NBA. Julius Randle and James Young are virtual locks lo leave as they are projected as lottery picks in most mock drafts. However for players like the Harrison twins, Dakari Johnson and Willey Cauley-Stein the decision to leave is not an easy one because they are projected as late first round to early second round picks. All four of them could use more time in college to refine their games but the problem players at Kentucky face is with such great recruits coming in the next year they do not know if their minutes will be affected by that incoming talent.
John Calipari is used to facing rumors about where he will be employed in the next year and this season is no different. Even though he has moved quickly to squash rumors of his NBA return he surely knows that NBA offers do not come often and will have to consider any good opportunity that comes his way. He may be content to stay in the college game but if there is one thing everyone knows about coaches is that they are extremely competitive, and any opportunity to coach at the highest level will definitely at least tempt Calipari into jumping ship to the NBA.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius