Calipari on coaching LeBron: 'If I had a chance to, I would absolutely.'

LeBron James and John Calipari have used each other as effective recruiting tools over the past few years

Hiring Cal won't Net much gain for NBA teams

LeBron James and John Calipari have used each other as effective recruiting tools over the past few years

The question was the equivalent of being asked if you'd like a winning lottery ticket, an all-expense-paid vacation to Maui or a date with Scarlett Johansson.

John Calipari was asked by the Cleveland Plain Dealer if he'd like to coach LeBron James someday, and he responded the same way any other coach would if he were honest.

"Are you kidding me?" the Kentucky coach told the newspaper Wednesday. "Have a chance to coach the best player in the world? Yes, I would love to coach him. But what's happened is our careers are criss-crossing without crossing.

"I'm not in a position where I would leave Kentucky right now. I'm not sure whether this is his last contract, or his next-to-last contract. But I would tell you if I had a chance to, I would absolutely."

What's interesting about Calipari's response isn't that he'd "absolutely" leave Kentucky for the chance to coach James. Almost every coach in the nation would leave his current job for the chance to coach the best player in the world because the presence of James guarantees the team would contend for a NBA title each year for the next few seasons at minimum.

Nonetheless, it's somewhat surprising that Calipari said it so bluntly. And it's definitely interesting that he said it in a phone interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer days after the Cavaliers' head coaching job became vacant after the franchise fired Mike Brown for the second time. And it's even more noteworthy when taking into account that James can become a free agent this summer and that a return to his home state might be the only opportunity out there enticing enough to make the four-time NBA MVP even consider leaving Miami. 

At the end of the day, none of this may matter.

The timing for Calipari to leave Kentucky isn't ideal considering he'll have nine McDonald's All-Americans on a loaded team that should begin next season as the favorite to win the national title. And by all accounts, James is far more likely to remain in Miami than hit the open market.

Still, Calipari's failure with the New Jersey Nets is one of the few blemishes on his coaching resume and many believe he'd like to atone for that in the NBA before his career is over.

If he can market himself as the coach who can help lure LeBron James as a free agent, that would surely increase his chances of an attractive job offer in the future.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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