John Calipari denied his interest in returing to the NBA on Twitter, but behind the scenes he is reportedly seeking a 10-year, $120-million deal to run the Nets or the Sacramento Kings, according to a report from Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski.
You may have heard me say this before: I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time.- John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 11, 2016
I am not negotiating with ANYBODY. My total focus is on this team and winning the next game.- John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 11, 2016
Asked why the Kentucky job is great, Calipari added on the SEC conference call on Monday: "Anytime you can have a championship culture, anytime you can be in the hunt for championships or in this case in college in recruiting, you have one of the best jobs. You don't have to put fans in the seats, you don't have to raise money, you just coach basketball. It's a great job and one that I appreciate having and am humbled to be here."
During a press conference on Monday, Mikhail Prokhorov, the Nets billionaire Russian owner, said: "Coach Cal is a great coach. But we won't be discussing any names today."
"After [we make a list] I will meet personal with all of them [coaching candidates]," he told the YES Network.
The Nets on Sunday fired coach Lionel Hollins and reassigned GM Billy King. Wojnarowski reported that King will now serve as a "consultant on the search process," but Prokhorov said King's future role is under discussion.
Meantime, Wojnarowksi wrote that Calipari will be a top target for the Nets.
"[Nets CEO Brett] Yormark is pushing Prokhorov to reach back to the Nets' Jersey roots, dust off a failed '90s experiment and sell it as something sparkling and new," Wojnarowski writes. "Twenty years ago, the Nets stunned everyone with a five-year, $15 million contract for the UMass coach. For Calipari to consider the Nets - and, yes, the Sacramento Kings, too - league sources tell Yahoo Sports that the teams have been informed of his asking price: 10 years, $120 million.
"When Calipari spoke with minority ownership in Sacramento last spring, he told them that it would take an offer of $11 million-plus a year to get his attention, league sources said. Calipari turned down a 10-year, $80 million-plus offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, because he wouldn't leave Kentucky with only an incremental raise on what is now an $8 million to $9 million annual package on campus.
"Cleveland's offer has become a baseline for Calipari's contractual demands: He wants the 10 years and now the $12 million a year that Phil Jackson makes to run the Knicks.
"Calipari's sell will be this: As his old Kentucky stars - DeMarcus Cousins (2018), John Wall (2019) - become free agents, he'll have the Nets positioned to sign them. His former players have largely kept excellent relationships with him, but there are those close to them who say that most of his ex-stars remain reluctant to committing to 82 games a year of Cal's abrasive style. It wore out players fast in the 1990s in New Jersey, and Calipari would need to bring a different disposition to the NBA and prove that he's willing to treat NBA players like men, not teenagers."
Calipari has been linked to both the Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans (who feature his former star center Anthony Davis) in recent months, but each time he has taken to Twitter to insist he's remaining at Kentucky.
"My feelings are that he will always be in demand for an NBA job because he's a players' coach and he's coached as many NBA players as there are out there now except he got them before they hit the NBA," current St. John's and former Kentucky assistant Barry "Slice" Rohrssen told me in May.
Kentucky issued this statement on Sunday: "We don't comment on other job openings."
Calipari compiled a 72-112 record as coach of the then-New Jersey Nets from 1996-99. A lot has happened since then, though. From 2000 to now, between stints at Memphis and Kentucky, he is 454-110 with five Final Four appearances and a national championship with the Wildcats in 2012.
With that, Calipari would command a massive salary, which Prokhorov would likely have no problem with. Regardless of which NBA job Calipari were to potentially take, he may command organizational control, too. In terms of the Nets, taking over that role would be a mess.
The future in Brooklyn is murky, at best, because the Nets do not have their own first-round pick in 2016 or 2018, a result of the 2013 draft-night blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics. Additionally, the Celtics have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in 2017.
In short, if Calipari were to take over decision-making, he is likely to have no first-round picks in the near future, which means no opportunity to draft a potentially game-changing talent like LSU freshman sensation Ben Simmons, who is currently the projected No. 1 pick this June, according to DraftExpress.