The woeful Nets need a new man to run the show after the franchise fired coach Lionel Hollins and GM Billy King over the weekend. And as speculation increases over who owner Mikhail Prokhorov will tab to replace them, there's one name that stands out above the rest: John Calipari.
The former Nets coach and current Kentucky coach is always mentioned as a candidate for NBA openings, but if organizations—including the Sacramento Kings—are really serious about bringing him back to the league, it's going to cost them a disturbing amount of money.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Brooklyn and Sacramento "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.
The 56-year-old Calpari compiled a record of 72-112 during his first run with Nets when they were in New Jersey from 1996-99. He quickly returned to the college game where he led Memphis to the national title game in 2008 and had won a national championship with Kentucky in 2012 while leading the Wildcats to four Final Fours. But the lure of the NBA apparently remains and Wojnarowski writes Calipari is interested in having total control of a franchise and would love to get the Nets and Kings in a bidding war.
For Calipari, the perfect scenario will be engaging the Kings and Nets in a bidding war. In that instance, Prokhorov could be hard to beat. So now, there promises to be two parallel searches for the Brooklyn Nets' next GM and coach: one that includes traditional candidates; and one that is the dance with Calipari. There were cringes within the Nets over the PR ramifications, but ownership plans to use King as a consultant on the search process.
Calipari took to Twitter to completely deny any interest in the NBA.
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
Other than making a boatload of money, why would Calipari leave Kentucky where he truly runs the show, attracts the best high school talent, and already makes almost $9 million a year for Brooklyn or Sacramento? The Kings make more sense because they actually have more to work with and also a feature one of his former Wildcats in DeMarcus Cousins. We've talked about how bleak the Nets' future looks and the prospects for a quick turnaround are almost non-existent, so if he goes back to Brooklyn it's not to win. But the bottom line is if the price is right, Calipari could be taking his talents back to the Association.
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