Three days after Kentucky coach John Calipari insisted via twitter that he will return to Lexington next year, speculation that he will go back on his word and bolt for the NBA hasn't exactly dissipated.
A report in Monday's Chicago Tribune said that power broker William Wesley has been working back channels selling Calipari and LeBron James as a package deal to teams like the Bulls, Nets and Clippers with salary cap room and coaching vacancies.
Rather than rehash my view that Calipari would likely accept an NBA offer with the right salary and player-personnel control, I thought it would be more useful to let some other folks weigh in. Here's a sampling of other opinions from around the internet on the Calipari-LeBron saga:
John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader: John Calipari tweeted this morning "Now do I have to respond to these rumors too?" Answer: No. He doesn’t have to tweet either. Or keep talking to the national press. But he does, because he’s Cal. And because he’s Cal, and because of LeBron’s connections to WWW and Leon Rose, these rumors are not going to die. Not anytime soon. Doesn’t matter what Calipari says or tweets. He’s a coach. When it comes to coaches, we have learned to take anything they say with regards to jobs with a large bag of salt.
Dick Vitale, ESPN: First the Cavs now Bulls 4 Calipari-as I said last week he wiill be coaching the Cats! NO story baby!
Ronald Tillery, Memphis Commercial Appeal: I can't think of another college coach who has remained so in touch with the pro game. Calipari's only other NBA head coaching job lasted two-plus seasons with the New Jersey Nets in the 1990s. Since then, Calipari has stayed connected with Larry Brown -- the godfather of NBA coaching -- held pro coaching clinics annually in Memphis and somehow managed to have his name occasionally surface for pro job openings. Calipari ultimately leaves when the opportunity is clearly a step or two above his current occupation. And he's reached Rick Pitino status in that Calipari can jump to the NBA and comfortably back into a college job if the pros don't work out again.
Rick Bozich, Louisville Courier Journal: The more it appears that LeBron will be playing for a new coach next season, the more people will point to Calipari. If you tried to diagram the perfect player for Cal's dribble-drive offense, that player would be LeBron Raymone James. Cleveland could see Cal as the one guy who could persuade LeBron to stay home, even though the Cavs are further from an NBA title than they were in 2007. The Bulls have Derrick Rose, the former Memphis guard who led Calipari to one of his erased Final Fours. They also have an owner (Jerry Reinsdorf) who remains close with his dollars. Then there is the most intriguing possibility - the New Jersey Nets, a franchise bound for Brooklyn. Cal and LeBron could run that town all night, even over the beloved Knicks, especially if the Nets win the NBA draft lottery and fall into position to draft UK point guard John Wall.
Joel Francisco, ESPN Recruiting: What is the big fascination with Callipari ? LeBron needs to be coached for the 1st time in his career...not schmoooozed. What a joke. I hope LeBron has more "savvy" then hook'n up with Calipari. How'd that Nets job work out for him ? Do some research with your "team"
Mike Huguenin, Rivals.com I think Calipari knows he’s at a great place, but I also have to think Calipari - because of his connection to William “World Wide Wes” Wesley and Wesley’s connections to LeBron James - has to dream just a bit about coaching a Bulls team with James, who is a free agent, and Derrick Rose. I’m not sure Bulls officials necessarily see Calipari as the right man for the job. But, hey, if hiring Calipari somehow means you also get LeBron … . Still, I think Calipari will be in Lexington next season, coaching a UK team that once again is favored to win the SEC.
Matt Jones, Kentucky Sports Radio Blog: Once again, we are left with rumors of Calipari leaving, this time from the Chicago Tribune, a large and well-respected newspaper. I however will continue with what I said last week. So long as Calipari has unequivocally said he will be back, I will believe it. Until last Friday, he had made no such statement. But now he has and I am not sure what else people really want him to do. If he were to go back on that statement, a statement in which he gave himself no wiggle room, it would be an out and out lie. Until Calipari gives me reason to think such a lie is coming, I will assume that he is telling the truth and go from there.
Dan Wolken, Memphis Commercial Appeal: I love how Calipari feigns indignance on Twitter over rumors. He has spent an entire career dispatching minions to create such rumors.