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Why John Calipari Won’t Go To The Nets (And Why He Might)


By now you’ve probably read, or at least heard about, the new Yahoo! report saying John Calipari wants $12 million over 10 years to return to the NBA. Calipari was quick to shoot down the story with a tweet reading, “I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time.”

“I am not negotiating with ANYBODY,” he said.

That tweet is comforting, but it really doesn’t mean anything. If Calipari sees a golden opportunity to go to the league, Calipari will go to the league. Simple as that.

But the Brooklyn Nets do not provide a golden opportunity. It’s hardly an opportunity at all.

Here’s why he isn’t leaving for that job, $120 million or not…


Brooklyn has no hope for an immediate turnaround. Long-term not looking promising, either.

Philadelphia and Los Angeles are the two worst teams in the NBA, but those teams have plenty of young talent to, potentially, get things moving in the right direction in the near future.

Brooklyn, on the other hand, has 14-year veteran Joe Johnson, 10-year veteran Jarrett Jack, one of the Lopez twins, Thaddeus Young and Andre Bargnani. Its young guys? Markel Brown, Shane Larkin, Chris McCullough and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Meh.

But what about the monster draft class entering the league next summer?

Yeah, about that. The Nets gave up its first-round pick to the Celtics as part of the deal for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Its second-round pick will likely belong to the Clippers from the Reggie Evans trade of 2012.

Next season, the Nets’ first-round spot goes to the Celtics again, still from the Garnett-Pierce deal, and its second-round pick goes to Atlanta from the Joe Johnson trade. In 2018, guess what? Its first-rounder belongs to the Celtics as part of the, yep, Garnett-Pierce deal.

Brooklyn won’t make a first-round pick until 2019.

Kentucky will be absolutely loaded next season. More so than usual.

John Calipari has arguably his best class ever, and that’s saying something. He has already signed five of the top 16 players in the 247Sports rankings and rumor has it the nation’s No. 1 center wants to jump on board, too.

Needless to say, Cal’s looking forward to coaching Kentucky in 2016-17. The players he has coming in are the perfect mold for the system he likes to run: long, super-athletic frontcourt players and two guards who can create for themselves. It’d be tough to leave that roster and yet another legitimate shot at a national title behind.

He has “the best basketball coaching position in the world.”

Whether you believe him or not, Calipari has said many times he has “the best basketball coaching position in the world.”

His job security in Lexington couldn’t be higher and he is one of the top two or three coaches in the college game. Once Coach K hangs it up, which may be soon, Cal’s current hold on the recruiting scene will likely turn to complete dominance. He’s almost assured a title-contending team every season until he retires.

On the flip side, his potential success in the NBA is full of unknowns and far from a sure-thing. The challenge may entice him, but why leave the gold standard of college basketball to try it out?

The Nets are, and always will be, the second team in town.

The move to Brooklyn put the Nets in Knicks territory, securing its place as second-fiddle behind the Big Apple’s team. Phil Jackson has the Knicks trending upward with 19-year-old Kristaps Porzingis as its centerpiece, while Brooklyn heads the opposite direction.

John Calipari’s ego won’t accept being the younger brother, and the Nets will always be the younger brother. That is the Knicks’ city.


On the contrary, here is why he would do it…


That is a ton of money.

Assuming Brooklyn’s psychotic billionaire owner is willing to pay Calipari the $120 million he demands, Cal will take Greg Popovich’s throne as the highest paid coach in the NBA. It will also make him the highest paid coach in all of American sports.

Cal may say it’s not about the money, but this little tidbit from Wojnarowski’s report suggests otherwise:

One minority owner with the Kings, who was part of multiple calls with Calipari, told confidants, “He kept saying it wasn’t about the money, but he kept talking about the money.”

And $120 million is A LOT of money.

The northeast is his home.

Before going to Memphis in 2000, Cal spent his entire career in the northeast. He was at Massachusetts for eight seasons, New Jersey for three and then a brief stint in Philadelphia. Not to mention, he was born and raised in Moon, Pennsylvania, a short, six-hour drive from the bright lights of New York City.

He will get the power he wants.

Each time a new Cal-to-the-NBA rumor emerges, it includes the small caveat he wants complete control of the franchise if he is ever going to make that jump. Brooklyn is desperate and likely willing to hand him the keys to the sunken ship. With that power, Cal would do all he can to sign his old Kentucky players, namely DeMarcus Cousins or John Wall, who will soon be free agents. Anthony Davis would be his pipe dream, but that ain’t happening.

He wants to prove he can win.

Of all the success Cal has had in his career, his short run in the NBA was a complete fail. It’s the one wrong on his resume and he is eager to make it right.

Going back to that ego thing, a part of him has always wanted to prove he can be successful in the pros, just for the sake of showing he can do it. Larry Brown, his mentor, is the only coach to win titles in the NCAA and NBA — think Cal wouldn’t like to join him?


My uninformed opinion: There isn’t enough money in the world to coach the Brooklyn Nets. Not when you’re making $7-8 million per year to win all of the time at Kentucky — “the best basketball coaching position in the world.”

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

20 Comments for Why John Calipari Won’t Go To The Nets (And Why He Might)

  1. Memphis UK Cat
    11:15 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

    Like I said earlier, this really sucks! This is the number from very close friend of Cal and I did not think the Nets owner was crazy enough to offer it. Cal loves UK but a guarantee 10 year deal to build a program is huge. I have very strong tie to a New Jersey Cal friend as well. We will know if Cal wants to retire at Kentucky or take on another challenge. Either way, we have a great coach, and I hope the fringe BBN idiots support him either way if he stays or goes. We are in one of the most historic runs in college basketball.

  2. teech62
    11:16 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

    If he goes than I’m done for awhile. It will break my heart worse than the Wisconsin loss. I had planned to move to Lexington now that I’m retired but I don’t know if I will if we are left for the Nets.

  3. DelrayCat
    11:25 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

    I think he goes if 2 things occur.

    #1 is that the amount mentioned is correct. $120 Million is A LOT of money, especially if some sort of guarantee is there for 8-10 years or opportunity to get some of the ownership pie.

    #2 is if the arrangement allows him to only COACH for a few years at most. If Cal get a Pat Riley type of opportunity whereby he is the president of the team (for life) and HIRES the future GM/coaches and still makes that kind of coin…..he is gone.

  4. Mathlete
    11:29 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

    Let’s pretend for a minute that Calipari actually does bail on his ridiculous recruiting class, all of the future success he’ll have at Kentucky, and tries to bring the Nets out of basketball hell…

    (Everyone done weeping and gnashing teeth? OK, me too… for now.)

    Who’s our next coaching target going to be?

    Brad Stevens? Sean Miller? Orlando Antigua? Billy Donovan?

    • DelrayCat
      11:39 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

      I doubt Brad Stevens and Billy D would leave the NBA given that their current opportunities to win moving forward are quite good.
      Antigua? Too inexperienced.
      No, I see Tony Bennett at the top of the list.
      Sean Miller or Scott Drew?
      Dwayne Casey would also be strongly considered.

    • leon singleton
      11:58 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

      Bring Pitino back. He is already hanging from the rafters.

    • J-Dub421
      12:01 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

      You’ve gone senile Leon, or you forgot to take your meds today…

    • RealCatsFan
      1:14 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

      Way too early to be hitting the sauce already, Leon.

    • catdaddyd
      5:14 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

      Dewayne Casey??? I’m not sure he is even allowed to coach college after the emery package fiasco.

  5. Sentient Third Eye
    11:34 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

    After the first few million, can anyone really notice the difference anyway?

  6. kvltclassic
    11:55 am January 11, 2016 Permalink

    Give the Nets a little credit, next year the Celtics are just allowed to swap first round picks with them. So that means they’ll get the Celtics pick, probably in the 20’s, so basically they don’t have one lol

  7. randall johnson
    12:25 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

    It’s you guys posting this stuff, stirring the pot , that’ll push cal out the door , give it a break.

    • theWilkman
      12:30 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

      Totally. I heard from a friend of mine who knows someone in New Jersey that once shook Cal’s hand that if there are over 50 comments on any KSR post about him leaving, we might as well pack his bags for him. KSR has grown too powerful!

  8. Kizzy
    12:47 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

    How many times does he have to tell y’all he is staying at UK? 101 APPARENTLY.

  9. Memphis UK Cat
    12:57 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

    I don’t blame you for being skeptical and I sure as heck hope he stays. It has always been about Phil Jackson money and the power. Cal’s agent even confirmed it 10 @ 12. Google it. If anyone knows who his agent is and who he is tied to, Lebron and the fact that many key free agents will be available that played for Cal makes this a tough decision. Brooklyn Nets have a new arena and Cal is getting a lot of pressure. If he does not take [email protected] he is staying at UK to be a developer for the next level and retire at UK. All other offers have been BS leading up to this.

  10. UKBlue1
    1:50 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

    Cal also has a house at the Jersey Shore. You could give a coach $200 million, going to a team that was dumb enough to trade away all it’s 1st round draft picks until 2019 for a bunch of old players who are no longer on your team, you’re screwed before you even begin. A team full of old players that you really can’t trade, no 1st round picks to trade, going to the Nets you are automatically going to fail no matter who you are or the size of the ego. Besides an owner dumb enough to give a coach all that money plus full control over everything, never 1 time have those kind of deals worked, just ask Rick Pitino.

  11. Stopover
    3:41 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

    It’s not like the UK job is the best for him going forward. Why?

    1. First and foremost its suffocating after a few years.
    2. It’s small-time and boring. Eventually.
    3. At his age, there are limited family considerations keeping him in Lexington.
    4. He has realized his coaching skills are not enough to win even with the best players. Lightning struck with AD, but even he knows you can’t rely on lightning again.
    5. He wants to stay one step ahead of the NCAA ala Pete Carroll.

    • UK Big Board Update
      4:33 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

      Meanwhile, at the dumpster fire in Louisville……..

    • theSkinny81
      4:53 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

      UofLol fans have been hoping and praying Calipari leaves since 2010.

      I don’t blame them – I’d want my rival school’s coach gone too if he embarrassed us to the tune of 8-1 and single-handedly made my coach go insane.

  12. SinceStollField
    4:02 pm January 11, 2016 Permalink

    Come on Coach. Stay with the Cats and make history. You’re already a multi-millionaire and will make more than $60 million over the next 10 years by staying at UK. You’re the best recruiter in college basketball, a skill with little value in the NBA. You have a chance to win a national championship almost every year and develop some of the best players in the game. You came to Kentucky because you knew you could handle the pressures of the job and get the best players in the country to come here. Do you really see a path to success with the Nets? They stink and will continue to stink for several years, thanks to a long list of bad deals and contracts.