ROUNDTABLE: What to make of talk about Calipari and the NBA

Catsillustrated.com, Staff
Cats Illustrated

It seems like we do this every year. Actually, yes. We do this every year.

John Calipari and NBA rumors go hand in hand like ... well, pick your analogy. A lot of them would work.

The CatsIllustrated.com staff goes to the Roundtable to discuss the latest round of rumors linking Calipari to The Association and, beyond that, what the future might hold.

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What should we make of the rumors linking Calipari to the Knicks presidency and, in a broader sense, does Kentucky's head coach have any future in/around the NBA?

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: At some point Calipari will do something in the NBA. Maybe he will be a GM. Maybe he will be the President of a franchise. I'm not sure if he will ever coach in the NBA again but he will have an impact on an NBA team somewhere down the road.

But it's a long ways down the road. He will be at Kentucky at least another three seasons and probably longer. He truly does love changing the lives of recruits and their families. He can't do that in the NBA. At least not at the same level. Calipari says what he needs to say for recruiting but he wants another national championship and he knows what two will mean for his career.

Once he gets another title UK fans should be worried, but until then he will be in Lexington at least until his son graduates and probably longer.

Derek Terry, Beat Writer: I didn't think much of the ESPN report regarding Calipari's interest in the vacant president of operations role. Calipari might return to the NBA one day, and despite the Knicks being in a huge market, it wouldn't be a good move to go to New York now. I think if Calipari does return to the NBA, it'll be in a position that he'll assuredly excel in.

2018-19 has potential to be as good as 2014-15. No, I'm not saying UK will nearly go undefeated or when 38 games in a row, but that team will be full of NBA talent. UK will have the top recruiting class join several returning sophomores and juniors. UK should have a great shot at the national title that season. If the Cats do win the title and there's a large turnover in the roster, I could see Calipari leaving if the right opportunity comes along.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: My immediate reaction to the Knicks report/rumor/whatever you want to call it: No way, no how, not in this universe. I've never thought it was outlandish to suggest that Calipari will somehow wiggle his way back into the NBA before he retires and rides off into the sunset for a post-professional life of leisure. No, that's not crazy at all. Calipari may have mellowed a bit during his time at Kentucky. His public mainstreaming with the Cats has probably taken a little bit of the edge off, or made that chip on his shoulders a little easier to bear. He doesn't seem to be quite the "me against the world," "I've got to prove I can do anything," guy that he was years ago. Not quite, at least, from my vantage point. But he has spent roughly a decade at previous college coaching stops (both true for his tenures at UMass and Memphis), so he has a track record of moving on after, roughly, the amount of time he's approaching in Lexington.

All that said, the Knicks job in question is just not an attractive position for Calipari. Or it wouldn't seem to be. It would be the right kind of platform. It would be a challenge that would offer a rare opportunity for full and complete redemption following his first unsuccessful go-'round with the Nets. But it's not attractive because the odds of actually succeeding and sustaining that legacy-altering success in that position, relative to the good thing he's got going now at Kentucky, are very slim.

Also, the timing: He's coaching USA's U19 bunch in a potentially "take your already unprecedented recruiting to an even crazier unprecedented level" move, and his son's a rising sophomore with the basketball program. The timing doesn't make sense. Furthermore, he's set up to have a good team this year and possibly a super team during the 2018-19 season.

I do think there's a very good chance that Calipari ends up in the NBA at some point down the road. I'll say that it happens (50-60% confidence on that; not overwhelmingly convinced, but more likely than not) but not for this opportunity.

As for Calipari's tweets earlier today: Did he really just find out about all this waking up early in Egypt? Did he have no knowledge of something like this, or is this the kind of thing that Calipari loves to be associated with? Something tells me he probably doesn't mind having his name in the headlines for this sort of thing.

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