Turns out John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan weren't the only high-profile college coaches to have conversations with the Cleveland Cavaliers this past spring.
Kansas coach Bill Self also had a chance to coach the franchise that eventually landed LeBron James last week.
Self revealed to the Kansas City Star on Monday that the Cavaliers contacted him about their vacancy, but he would not go into specifics about how serious the discussions were or whether he was ever offered the job. On June 20, Cleveland ultimately hired David Blatt, a highly successful European coach in Israel and Russia.
“I talked to the Cavs’ people a lot throughout their evaluation process and the draft, but I’ll just leave it at that,” Self told the Star. “That wasn’t anything I wanted to become public certainly, and they didn’t either.”
It's easy to see why the Cavs job had some appeal for Self even before talks with James heated up. The franchise had the No. 1 pick in the draft, which meant he had the chance to reunite with either eventual pick Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid at the pro level.
At the same time, it's also hard to blame Self for passing on the chance to make the jump to the NBA. Like Calipari, Izzo and Donovan, he has stability in college that he could never have at the pro level. He also has a son currently playing for Kansas, so the timing wasn't ideal. And while James leaving Miami for Cleveland was considered a slim possibility back in April or May, Self had no way of knowing the Heat would look so old and rickety in the NBA Finals or James would be so dead-set on returning to his home state.
Self's public stance on the NBA has always been pragmatic. He insists that Kansas is a better opportunity for him than most NBA gig but also acknowledges that he won't rule out ever making the jump if an ideal job offer came along.
"It hasn't really tempted me because I haven't had that many people talk to me about it," Self told the Oklahoman last year. "But at some point and time, sure, I think it would. It would be great to be able to match wits with the best athletes in the world, but I'm certainly happy where I'm at. I'm not saying I never would (coach in the NBA) but I'm locked in.
"I love it at Kansas, and they love basketball there. I've been very fortunate to coach at such a tradition-rich place."
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