Kentucky Basketball: Izzo Stays Put, Rumors Shift to Calipari

So here we are, back at square one.

Yesterday, Michigan St. Spartans head coach Tom Izzo held a press conference and declared himself "here for life at Michigan State."  I guess you know, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, what that means.

Yes, it means another round of rumors about John Calipari being offered the head coaching position for the Cavaliers, to be the Great Savior of Cleveland's franchise by using his friendship with LeBron James to convince him to eschew free agency and remain in Cleveland.

I have said it before, and I will say it again -- this will not happen.

It will not happen because it doesn't really make that much sense for Cleveland, and LeBron and Calipari are not that kind of friends.  It will not happen because Cleveland will not be willing to offer enough.  It will not happen because Dan Gilbert is not going to yield that kind of control to Calipari, who unlike Izzo, has no real connections to him or the Cleveland franchise.  Let's face it -- Gilbert is not willing to trust Calipari as much as he would have Tom Izzo, fairly or unfairly.

While the deal reportedly offered to Izzo would be a substantial raise for Calipari, it isn't even in the ball park with the kind of relative money that the Celtics had to offer Rick Pitino to get him to leave.  So Cleveland would have to talk sweet, probably to the tune of $10M/year and control of player personnel before Calipari would even bat his eyes in their direction.

It shouldn't happen and it won't.

For Calipari, it would make him look like little more than a prostitute to LeBron James' whims, and that is a really bad foundation for a coach-player relationship, even in the NBA.  While there is plenty of precedent for Calipari leaving a program for an upgrade, not once has he done it after only one year, and Coach Cal has been unambiguous about how much he wanted the job at Kentucky.

Rven if I am confident Calipari will not take the offer should it be made, I must tell you in all honesty that it is possible that he would.  Cleveland with LeBron James is still an NBA championship contender, and even though Kentucky fans would like to believe that nothing holds more sway than the prospect of an NCAA title at Kentucky, we may all be dead wrong about that.  It is possible that Calipari would consider an NBA title more rewarding.

But I doubt that for reasons that make a lot of sense, even if they may be wrong.  Calipari has labored for years in the college coaching ranks to come within a couple of free throws of an NCAA title (albeit one that would have been vacated because of Derrick Rose's alleged cheating on his SAT).  Coach Cal has had to suffer for years at the hands of his critics over the two vacated final fours, and now he has a chance to recruit some of the greatest talent in NCAA history and make a real go at a championship -- his way, on his terms.

In Cleveland, everything would be on LeBron James' terms.  The championship would not be Calipari's, it would be LeBron's.  Calipari represents a band-aid, a rent-a-coach, because once James is sewn up for a long-term deal, what do you really need Calipari for?  He would be immediately on the clock in Cleveland, and he might not even get a Mike Brown chance if he misses his first year.  This is the NBA after all, and all that matters in the NBA is winning a championship.  Division title?  Who cares?  Win the East?  That just means you lost the finals.

Remember, Calipari has already been there in the NBA and done that, and he does not recall it fondly.

You will see rumors of Calipari to Cleveland.  Don't buy them for a second.

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