Kentucky coach John Calipari is intrigued with the Chicago Bulls’ coaching job and would be willing to listen to a pitch from management, NBA and NCAA sources told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.
Sources say the combination of roster talent, tradition and market make Chicago one of the few NBA jobs that could pry Calipari out of Kentucky. The Bulls have been hesitant to pay the $4 million-$5 million annual packages it would take to lure high-profile coaches like Calipari.
Bulls general manager Gar Forman fired coach Vinny Del Negro on Monday night.
Calipari could be an intriguing candidate on several levels for the Bulls. He coached Bulls star point guard, Derrick Rose(notes), at the University of Memphis, and his strong ties with the powerful agency, CAA, could give the organization leverage in free agency this summer.
Within hours of the Yahoo! Sports report on Calipari's interest in the Bulls, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart issued a statement saying that the school and coach had entered into negotiations on a contract extension.
"We have begun initial discussions on restructuring his contract so that he's the coach at Kentucky until he retires," Barnhart said in the statement.
Sources say Calipari “hasn’t connected” with Kentucky’s athletic administration in his first year on the job, and that could contribute to his willingness to rekindle a long-standing goal of realizing NBA success.
Calipari has returned Kentucky to prominence, winning 35 games and advancing within a victory of the Final Four. He has four freshman, including expected No. 1 pick John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who also is expected to be a high lottery pick. He’s already recruited a top five national class for next season.
Calipari coached the New Jersey Nets for three tumultuous seasons from 1996-99, reaching the playoffs once. He also had complete control of basketball operations. His ego and immaturity at the time caused him to clash with ownership, players and media, but most agree that Calipari has grown a lot since those days and would be better equipped at the pros.