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Jeff Eisenberg

John Calipari's presence at Cavs game fuels NBA speculation

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If a report linking a college basketball coach to another job is erroneous, his typical response is to distance himself from the topic as much as possible to limit the type of uncertainty that usually hinders recruiting.

John Calipari did exactly the opposite of that on Tuesday night, which is why he'll wake up to a rousing debate Wednesday morning whether it was just a coincidence or another sign that the Kentucky coach is intrigued by the idea of returning to the NBA.

One week after the first report linking him to Chicago and four days after an NBA official suggested Cleveland should hire him to increase their chances of resigning LeBron, there was Calipari seated courtside at the Cavs-Celtics playoff game in Cleveland. Seated next to him on one side was LeBron's agent, Leon Rose. Seated a few seats away on the other was Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

The official reason for Calipari's presence was to accompany the family who won Cavs playoff tickets in Kentucky's Haiti telethon a few months ago, but the sight of him alongside Rose certainly raised eyebrows. Of course, the major reason an NBA team would have interest in Calipari is in hopes that his strong relationship with LeBron and mutual confidante World Wide Wes would help a franchise lure professional basketball's most prized free agent this summer.

Would the Cavs, Bulls or another NBA team with salary cap space this summer look past Calipari's past failures with the Nets and shell out millions on a gamble that his recruiting prowess could land LeBron? It's possible, but hardly a certainty at this point.

But coincidence or not, the sight of the Kentucky coach at what could be the final home game the LeBron ever plays in his home state only fueled the perception that we would be foolish to dismiss the Calipari-to-the-NBA talk just yet.

We better not learn Calipari also parked his car in Mike Brown's parking spot or he's not getting the benefit of the doubt any longer.

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