For the first time since 1999, John Calipari could be an NBA head coach.
Yahoo Sports’ Ben Rohrback and Vincent Goodwill report that multiple sources have said “Calipari would be open to jumping back into the NBA.”
Since 2000, Calipari has been a college coach at Memphis (2000-09) and Kentucky (2009-present). During those stints, he has led his teams to a lot of success, taking home an NCAA title in 2012 and making it to the Final Four five times.
So, why would Calipari leave? As Rohrback and Goodwill explained, executives believe that he may want to return to the NBA after “maxing out” Kentucky.
“He may have maxed out at Kentucky,” a high-ranking executive told Yahoo Sports.
“College basketball is a sinking ship,” another executive told Yahoo Sports. “He is much different than his first go-round but that ego is hard to tame.”
Calipari’s three-year stint with the Nets didn’t go particularly well, as he notched a 72-112 record and made it to the playoffs just once, losing in a three-game, first-round sweep. He was fired in 1999 and spent 2000 as a 76ers assistant before returning to the college game.
But with 20 more years of coaching experience under his belt, Calipari, 62, may be better suited to make the jump to the NBA. He has a great understanding of young players from his time at Kentucky, so he may be able to help coach up some of the youthful teams looking for a new coach.
He also has plenty of connections to Kentucky stars across the NBA, such as Anthony Davis, John Wall and Karl-Anthony Towns, among others. That could be appealing to teams looking to recruit a star to them in free agency or on the trade market.
There are six vacancies at the NBA level. If Calipari is, in fact, considering NBA jobs, teams will surely have an interest in at least interviewing him.
Will Calipari join the NBA ranks as the next great college coach to make the leap? Either way, Calipari’s name is one to watch as teams begin their coaching searches in earnest.