Kentucky Should Be Looking for a New Coach in 3 Weeks If John Calipari Is Offered Lakers Job

by Kent Sterling

John Calipari will likely be back in Kentucky next year, but if offered the Lakers job, I suggest he TAKE IT!

John Calipari will likely be back in Kentucky next year, but if offered the Lakers job, I suggest he TAKE IT!

The joke is that John Calipari is the college coach most ready to succeed in the NBA because he has the most experience coaching professionals.  True, but not the reason why he should leave Blue Grass for the high tides of Los Angeles to lead the Lakers back from the dead.

On the off chance that there is any truth at all to the seemingly absurd rumor it appears Calipari’s agent Worldwide Wes started via a Rex Chapman tweet prior to Monday night’s championship game, he should pursue the Lakers with the same vigor he uses to pursue NBA ready recruits.

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Few jobs in sports are as difficult as being the head coach at the University of Kentucky.  Fan expectations are insane, and the recruiting grind of bringing in constantly churning group of McDonald’s All-Americans is daunting.  Miss on a class, miss the tournament, and piss off an entire state with no diversions but the Wildcats to occupy their attention.

Worrying about grades, kids making the right decisions, and finding the formula to congeal the disparate and incredibly talented parts into a team during the nine months they wait for NBA Draft eligibility are constant worries.

Without a doubt, positives outweigh the negatives as the basketball czar of Kentucky.  The pay is great, and legend status has been conferred upon Calipari by Big Blue Nation will provide a steady income for life.

But there have to be moments when Calipari sits in his office and wonders whether being a hero in Kentucky is the tallest             peak he can climb.  The highest level of basketball is played by grown men in the NBA, and after being viewed as a failure during his stint leading the New Jersey Nets must grate on a man who has succeeded everywhere else.

This isn’t the Utah Jazz calling; it’s the Los Angeles Lakers – the team of Kobe, Shaq, Wilt, the Zenmaster, Magic, Kareem, Pat Riley, Wilt, the Logo, and George Mikan.  It’s Jack Nicholson and Lou Adler sitting next to the bench.  It’s the iconic purple and gold in America’s second largest media market.

The Buss Family’s pockets are deep, and the allure for free agents to come to L.A. is huge.  Recruiting to the Lakers will be easier than recruiting to Lexington, and being 25-53 – just one game ahead of the last place Utah Jazz – has given whomever replaces Mike D’Antoni an excellent shot at exceeding expectations.

Whether Calipari is really being wooed by the Lakers or is simply trying to drive Kentucky toward offering an extension for $8-$10 million per year is another issue, but if there is fire behind all this smoke, he should run to LA to establish his legacy as a bonafide coach who can do much more than find ways to attract the best 18-year olds in America to UK.

If Calipari is ever going to leave Kentucky for a plum job in the NBA, now is the time.  After a five-year run that has been very prosperous (four elite eights, three final fours, two championship games, and one championship, Calipari will likely never be hotter.

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The next couple of weeks will be very important in defining Calipari’s career as a coach.  He has climbed every mountain that exists in Lexington, and his decision to rewrite his failure as an NBA coach by building the Lakers from the ground up will share whether the pain over his experience with the Nets continues to leave a mark.

The money will be close to equal, but the ability to amend his brand may be too great to pass up.  It should be.  The Lakers job is special.

28 thoughts on “Kentucky Should Be Looking for a New Coach in 3 Weeks If John Calipari Is Offered Lakers Job

  1. David Alexander

    Coach Calipari has already proven he is a bonafide coach. Pitino left UK for the Celtics and after 2 seasons he regreted leaving Lexington. So why would Calipari make the same mistake Pitino made? It’s not about the money. You mentioned Pat Riley in your write up and didn’t Pat Riley graduate from UK also played for UK under the legendry Adulph Rupp? Yes, he was and Riley said he would leave coaching the NBA for one college program and that was UK. You talk about Mountains that Coach Cal has already climbed at UK and that there is no more peaks to climb in Lexington? YOU ARE DEAD WRONG UK wants to take the most national championships away from UCLA and we are in a very good position to do that. Coach Cal right now has a shot as passing Joe B Hall for the no 2 best coach at UK also he is a hall of famer coach already. 2nd it would be very prestigious if he tied Adulph Rupp 4 national championships at UK. lot of people don’t remember who was the coach at the Lakers yrs ago ,but they KNOW who and what school Rupp coached at worldwide So why would Coach Cal leave?

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Your exhaled opinions of UK basketball are exactly the reason Calipari should leave. Riley would have left the NBA to coach at Kentucky? Why didn’t he? Kentucky hired Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino, Tubby Smith, and even Billy Gillespie over Riley? Of course not.

      Talk to anyone under 40 (probably 50) outside the boundaries of Kentucky, and less than 5% of college basketball fans would have any notion of who “The Baron” was.

      Do you really believe that Calipari wants to stick around to catch UCLA. With the top ranked recruiting class in the country virtually every one of the five years he’s been at UK, he’s won one.

      I’m no fan of Calipari’s methodology for recruiting, but on his worst day he’s twice the coach Hall ever was. The stunning devolution of Kentucky players during their time in Lexington under Hall was incredibly sad.

      The desire to achieve what Pitino could not would drive Calipari to try, not recede from the challenge of winning in the NBA.

  2. Henry

    By your metric, HOF coach Rick Pitino is a coaching failure because he never succeeded in the NBA. Coach K must have lacked the confidence to even try. Don’t get me started on those cowards Izzo and Boeheim.

    Try again Hater. Calipari may leave UK, but it will be on his own terms and it won’t be because those who are afraid and jealous of him “double dog dare” him to leave and go back to the NBA.

    As a Kentucky fan, if he decides to leave, he has my gratitude and best wishes for him, his family and his future. He couldn’t have given us more over the past 5 years. All UK fans should thank him from the bottoms of their hearts. I will immediately become a fan of whatever team he decides to coach.

    So if this really happens don’t pat yourself on the back, or take any credit for being clever. These “Cal is going somewhere” predictions happen at the end of every season, so far you guys are 0 and 4. Eventually you will be right, but not because of any special insight or sophisticated guile; you’ll be right just by dumb luck. Calipari can’t coach at Kentucky forever. That should help you and the rest of Indiana sleep a little better at night.


    1. kentsterling Post author

      Your skill at reading between the lines needs work. Whether Calipari goes to the NBA or stays at UK is of no meaning to me, unless Barnhart hires another Gillespie. Then it won’t be as much fun to watch UK because they will recede to the mean.

      Who called anyone a coaching failure? Calipari is driven by challenges, and coaching the Lakers would be a big one that would allow him to rewrite his wiki page of accomplishments. Earned or not, Calipari’s rep as a recruiter only gnaws at him.

      No recruiting in the NBA. Great test of a coach.

      1. Henry

        Then your point and your entire article is meaningless. You can write the same article and insert any coach’s name who has been unsuccessful or never coached at the NBA level. How do you spew this drivel and think it is somehow thought provoking and high brow? I’ve yet to see a single article by you about the implosion of Indiana basketball this season. Why don’t you focus your interesting (most positive word I could come up with) though processes on that. This really seems like a speck vs plank situation.

        1. kentsterling Post author

          I’ve written plenty about Indiana. You just haven’t read them because they wouldn’t annoy you, and being annoyed seems to be your psychological fuel. I had an uncle like you – always the angriest – always the loudest – always dismissive of others’ perspectives. Lonely guy.

          1. Henry

            I completely sympathize with your uncle if he has to sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table and listen to your pseudo-intellectual, circular logic BS. I am rarely dismissive of others. I am completely dismissive of you and your never ending campaign of character assassination of both John Calipari and the University of Kentucky with dubious allegations and innuendo.

  3. Jeff Gregory

    I think it would be in the best interest of Calipari to leave. Sure, he is successful, but he is has further soured his own reputation and the reputation of UK.

    Reputations aren’t as important in the NBA (as a coach), because it is a business and the players are part of and beneficiaries of that business. There is a much lower standard.

    If he goes to LA and has some success, history will probably be kinder to him and ultimately to Kentucky. If you don’t believe UK and Calipari have bad reputations, I would suggest Google.

    1. Henry

      Who cares? It means nothing. Duke has one and dones, Kansas has had two declare. Why is it such a big deal for Kentucky. One or two are ok, but 3 or 4 is outrageous? Think how stupid that sounds when you say it out loud. Not to mention the fact that all the players Calipari signs are also recruited by Duke, KU, UNC… You get the picture. There is no higher form of journalistic hypocrisy than the media persecution of Calipari and UK for ruining college basketball with the one and dones.

      1. Jeff

        The funny thing is I never mentioned the one and dones. Sure, his marketing job has soiled his reputation, but I was talking mainly about having to vacate wins at his past two jobs. I concede that most elite programs will have the 1&D’s, but they don’t compare to the UK recruiting travesty.

        1. Henry

          What do vacated wins at UMass and Memphis have to do with Kentucky’s reputation? Again, 1 or 2 one year players are ok, but 3 or 4 are a travesty? Please explain the logic, because either one and done is ok or it’s not. It’s kind of like saying it’s ok to be a little pregnant, but you don’t want a full blown pregnancy. Self has had 2 this year, I have yet to read a critical article about Kansas. If UK only has 2 this year, is that ok?

          1. kentsterling Post author

            Kentucky makes the one-and-done rule the foundation of its program. All success is derived through the exploitation of the idiotic rule. Others stumble into a kid here and there who jumps. Kentucky preys upon them en masse. That’s the difference.

            It’s like comparing a stock broker who loses once in awhile for clients to Bernie Madoff.

          2. Henry

            Nobody “stumbles” onto one and done talent, Kent. They recruit it, just like Calipari, with eyes wide open. Stop rationalizing why everybody else is ok and Kentucky is so bad. Your weak arguments are intellectually bankrupt and intellectually dishonest. The only reason people allow you to get away with them is because you relentlessly attack UK and John Calipari and not someone or something they really like such as Mike Krzyzewski (of nearly $10 million a year fame) and Duke.

          3. kentsterling Post author

            At what point have I ever written anything positive (or negative) about Mike Krzyzewski? Kansas and Duke don’t focus their recruiting primarily on NBA bound talent as Calipari does. They choose talented individuals – some of whom will play in the NBA after one year. Your defense of and pride in recruiting single year students that have nothing at all to do with the academic mission of any university is weak and self-serving, but that’s fine. Whatever stories you need to tell yourself to perpetuate the canard that the one-and-dones are part of your university is fine by me. Hey, we all need a diversion, and if yours is supporting a basketball team that is far more pro than amateur, have at it.

            And if attacking me makes you feel better about your lot in life and how it collides with the oxymoron of University of Kentucky Basketball, I’m here to help.

          4. Jeff Gregory

            What does the vacated wins have to do with UK? What, do you think Calipari won a contest and was then allowed to coach at Kentucky? UK CHOSE the guy with vacated wins. That will certainly affect a program’s reputation.

            Compare that to IU hiring Kelvin Sampson. There was an OUTCRY that the powers that be would compromise the program with that shady hire. IU won under Sampson, but a significant portion of the fans were still not comfortable with him. I am sure there were Sampson supporters, but I didn’t know any.

            Kent did an good job covering the one and done issue. UK markets themselves as an NBA primer – abandoning the mission of universities. Other elite schools get one here and there.

            Let me address your first question which was, “who cares? (about the reputation of UK and its coach)” I don’t know. If Big Blue Nation doesn’t care about its reputation, then why are you crying about people like Kent who draw attention to it? That, to me, is what sounds like hypocrisy.

          5. Mike Jones

            When KY hired a guy who had been at the helm to two programs that vacated seasons right after he left, that reinforced the perception that KY is a win-at-all-costs university. That is why it’s relevant. Duh.

          6. Henry

            Either one and done is ok for everyone, or it’s not ok for anyone. You can’t pick and choose whose one and dones are ok and whose are unacceptable. Kentucky recruits “single year students that have nothing to do the academic mission” of the school, but the same description somehow doesn’t apply to Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers or Jabari Parker. As for UK hiring Calipari, according to the NCAA, he has never been accused of any wrong doing of any kind. What are your specific accusations against him besides overzealous NCAA punishment boards unevenly and unfairly stigmatizing his schools? All the while Duke and others get let off when there players are involved in the same activities (see Corey Maggette and Lance Thomas). I get it, you hate Calipari and UK; probably with good cause, but stop throwing logic and fairness out the window just to get a few cheap shots in everytime the guy makes a Final Four.

          7. kentsterling Post author

            If a man’s home bursts into flames and is destroyed twice, his insurance company will believe the man is either an arsonist of incredibly careless. A homeowner’s policy for the third home will be a tough get regardless of the company’s ability to prove his responsibility.

            I can pick and choose which programs are systemically choosing to build their programs with one-and-dones based upon how many they run through campus. Between 2000 and 2013, Duke had three – Austin Rivers, Kyrie Irving, and Luol Deng. During that same period, Krzyzewski has sent 12 seniors to the NBA. Since 2010, UK has sent 11 freshmen to the league and two seniors. Evaluating each of those players individually and not part of a trend overwhelmingly supported by math is intellectually weak, illogical, and unfair.

          8. Henry

            Again, with the twisted logic. When you admitted that you had never even discussed Duke, or Kansas for that matter, in the context of the one and done phenomena you conceded my point.

            We can agree to disagree, but you are pretending that Coach K, Bill Self and all the others are different from Calipari somehow and that is willful ignorance or intentional dishonesty on your part.

            Duke has the #1 rated recruiting class and 4 players listed as potential one and dones coming in next year. That sounds like Calipari’s and Kentucky’s recipe for success. When will we see more articles about that?

            You conduct yourself and your posts in a small minded and dishonest way with a very transparent agenda. I feel good about my part of this discussion. I’ll let you and your minions have the last word.

      2. kentsterling Post author

        Odd that this supposed hypocrisy is recognized only in Kentucky.

        Through 2013, Duke has had three one-and-dones since 2000. Kansas has had three since Bill Self arrived in 2003. Kentucky has had 11.

          1. JC

            Once again Kent pours out this stat as he does on every post he writes about UK or Cal. Everytime I see those “figures” all I think of is how much better Cal is at recruiting than his peers. These other teams you continue to mention recruit the same talent you idiot. The kids prefer to play in Kentucky and then go pro. Get over it. My 2015 Prediction…..Ken will not write an article about how Kentucky won it all without the one and done’s of the past and how Coach Cal is one of the greatest coaches at one of the greatest schools in college basketball. If Kentucky wins it with Sophomores and Juniors…It would mean everything you have written the last 5 years has been in vein, and prove that Cal can recruit and win with both one and dones and returning talent. I will not comment on anymore of your posts. I’m sure you see my point and are already dreading the upcoming season enough as it is.

          2. kentsterling Post author

            Everything I have written for the last five years has been “in vein”? Tough to read through all that blood.

            I hope for nothing but the best for the players at Kentucky and am assured that justice awaits Calipari in some form.

  4. Warren in TN.

    Well, having had a really bad week that saw me go into the hospital with seizures, uncontrolled nausea, and severe migraines hours before the national title game, I’ve been struggling to get clear headed and understand everything that’s happened since Monday evening. There certainly isn’t a lack of storylines and catching up for me to do, and I think I’ll never really shake off the cobwebs in time to truly take in all of what’s happening with the UK program right now. I’m just now healthy enough to spend a few moments online. So to begin with, I’m glad to be feeling well enough to get back to some semblance of life and chat for while with my friends here!

    Firstly, I’m very happy with the season ending tournament run, I think it’s a one of a kind accomplishment and ranks up there as the greatest I’ve ever seen (sans the title game, which, dadgumit, I missed in its’ entirety) in the almost 40 years I’ve been a UK fan. I’m fine with the young men making whatever decision they deem as best for them to move forward for them and their families, whether they move on or decide to stay. They’ve given me wonderful memories for a lifetime, and for that, I am eternally thankful.

    As for Coach Cal, I hope he gets well soon, his hip problems can become very serious if not tended to in a timely manner, so that’s where my thoughts for him lie in the present. As for his future, I’m sure he will make the best decisions for him and his family as well, and that should be his top priority. I also suspect that should he leave, he will try to leave us as well prepared and in as good a shape as he can before leaving.

    If he were to leave UK, I think that he’s already put the program back at the top and UK should be in good shape whenever he leaves. I’m very appreciative of the job he’s done, to have come in and picked the program up from where it was, and for what he’s given us fans over his time at Kentucky.

    Kentucky has survived coaching changes before, and should it become necessary to do so once again, I have faith that it can – and will – be done successfully again. It might take a bad hire or a hire that isn’t quite the best fit before it gets done right again, too. I’m a realist and expect that sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. But UK has been through this before, and I’m confident my favorite team can get it right once again.

    If Cal leaves, then I simply wish him the best, and as a UK fan, we move on with confidence and positivity for the future. (at least this one does) If Cal stays, then the beat goes on. I’m thankful either way.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t bemoan things out of my control or look at every change in life as a potential disastrous turn of fate or see negatives in everything that comes to pass. Heck, I’m hopeful for IU to get things done with Crean, and if not him, then someone, at some point, will eventually get it done. It’s at that point we’ll see Indiana back competing at the highest level and I’ll be happy to see that, too.

    If that ain’t positivity, then I don’t know what is! hehehe

    And so we turn the page on another season, hope always springs eternal. Here’s to hoping things turn out for the best for all the teams we love to follow!

    1. kentsterling Post author

      My God, Warren. You are going to turn me into a nice guy yet. If your positivity doesn’t smooth some of my rough edges, I’m likely a lost cause.

      Know that you are in our prayers, and that I’m very pleased you find your time visiting this site enjoyable.

      As for Calipari, you are right. Kentucky survived losing Rupp, Hall, and Pitino, and thrived after Sutton and Gillespie. The egregious change was forcing Tubby to walk away.

    2. Pauly Balst

      Warren, were your issues related to the game? Stress? Hope not. It’s only basketball my friend!

      Glad you are feeling better.

      1. Warren in TN.

        Hi, Kent ! As usual, best wishes right back at you. You’re a good guy already, though. Can’t fool me…. 🙂

        Thanks for your thoughts as well, Pauly. Nah, I really don’t stress over games much at all. It even surprises me sometimes how little they effect me, to be honest. I guess getting older and seeing so many big games doesn’t phase me like they used to. When these episodes come over me, they strike quickly sometimes. It was most unexpected to say the least.

        I’m fond of saying things like “there’s more important things than a game” and similarly themed stuff about sporting events. I suppose it just took root deep in my soul and heart somewhere along the way. The thing that has me more torn up this week than anything is the tragic story of the little girl “Princess Lacey.” My heart goes out to the Michigan State players and her family for their loss.

        Absolutely heart-breaking. Can’t hold the tears back when I read or hear about it. Heck, I can’t even talk about it here without getting choked up. It’s people – and stories – like that, that make the world a better place. All my prayers for everyone involved with that little girl’s life.

        As for me, hey, I’m ok now! My higher power got me thru the rough days once again. Plus, I got good medicine….LOL!!! So, what, me worry?!?!? hehe

        I’ll be back, as usual, I urge everyone to keep the comments flowing on this site, as I enjoy reading them all. Kent will do his part in providing us the fodder to fuel our debates.

        Keep on keeping on!

        1. kentsterling Post author

          Tom Izzo again showed that he is at the head of the class among coaches when he spoke to the students gathered in East Lansing at the memorial for Princess Lacey. He’s real, honest, and unafraid to be who he is.


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