Would Brooklyn Nets Be Interested In John Calipari?


Rumors of Kentucky coach John Calipari going back to the NBA had to make their way through the door sometime this year, what with his team remaining undefeated into late March and all.

The only shock is that they took this long to arrive.

According to a recent column by Steve Popper of The Record, a front office source has indicated that Calipari wants back in the NBA coaching ranks.

“He desperately wants it,” said the source. “He won’t say it out loud. The NBA is the only place he’s ever failed and it drives him nuts. He’s not the same guy he was then. He came to the NBA and he wasn’t ready. He’s ready now.”

Calipari endured his lone stint as an NBA head coach – and Executive VP of Basketball Operations – with the then-New Jersey Nets from 1996-1999. After beginning the 1998-1999 season with a 3-17 record, Calipari was fired. His final record with the team was 72-112 with one playoff appearance in 1998.

Much has obviously changed since then. Not only has Y2K come and gone, but Calipari has been to two National Championship Games between runs at Memphis and Kentucky and won one in 2012.

More importantly, Calipari has cemented himself as the top recruiter in the country, as he’s openly embraced the highly scrutinized practice of signing serious one-and-done prospects while molding many into outstanding NBA players.

One thing that hasn’t changed? As Popper reports, Calipari’s close relationship with Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

At first thought, the idea of the Nets firing coach Lionel Hollins at the end of this season and pursuing Calipari sounds about as impulsive as letting P.J. Carlesimo go and follow that up by hiring someone who’s never coached a single second in his career.


If Calipari successfully completes his 40-0 quest with Kentucky next month and the rumors about his NBA thirst turn out to be true, what owner would seem more likely to go all-in on Coach Cal than Brooklyn’s Mikhail Prokhorov?

There are two things Prokhorov has made no bones about during his five years as Nets owner. The first being he’s willing to throw as much money as humanly possible into his franchise. It’s like his own personal game of Monopoly sometimes.

The second? No one has a love affair for big names more than he does.

What else would provoke him into giving Deron Williams a contract worth nearly $100 million?

Why else would he go all-in on Joe Johnson as well and choose Jason Kidd over a veteran coach in Carlesimo, who did a fine job leading the Nets into the postseason in 2013 as interim coach?

That’s just how Prokhorov rolls. If he thinks you possess serious starpower, he’ll take drastic measures to get you on his side. Including eating the next three years on Hollins’ contract.
As far as coaches are concerned, is there anyone who could scream “starpower” louder than Calipari if he does, indeed, finish off one of the greatest NCAA seasons of all-time?

Upon hearing these rumors, Hollins should be feeling more pressure than he has all season to reach the playoffs and give Prokhorov a reason to believe he’s the answer the Nets have been waiting so impatiently for since Byron Scott was given the heave-ho in 2004.

Because Calipari would have nothing left to accomplish at UK if his team wins the tournament. And if you couldn’t tell by listening to his interviews, he’s as hyper-motivated to succeed as any coach in either the NCAA or the NBA.

This would provide no better time for Calipari to make his return to the pros.

These stories have a way of fading over time, but this one seems different. This one has all the makings of big moves to come.