The NBA season is winding down as the second round of the Playoffs are short on life. There are already job openings in the Association, and there will surely be more to come as teams take their final bow out of the playoffs.
One NBA job has already caused a college coach to leave the confines of the University. Billy Donovan bounced for the Oklahoma City Thunder job after 17 years with the Florida Gators. I can't say I blame him. Donovan never really got the love that he deserved in Florida for bringing them out of college basketball obscurity while winning two national titles there. He always played second fiddle to the football coach, and that's going to be the case no matter who is there; the basketball coach will never be the rock star that the football coach is at Florida.
Now we come to John Calipari. Yesterday the New Orleans Pelicans fired head coach Monty Williams after taking a team that had almost no business being in the playoffs to the playoffs. Yes, it helps to have Anthony Davis there, but that's not a very good basketball team. The last time the Pelicans made the playoffs was during the 2010-2011 seasons when they were the Hornets and Chris Paul was on the team. Yet the Pelicans brass decided Williams needed to go.
As soon as Williams was out, stuff like this started happening:
Monty Williams gone as Pelicans coach. How long before we hear the John Calipari rumblings … Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 12, 2015
And then of course there is the extremely interesting Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers series. The prevailing thought that the losing team will also lose it's head coach. David Blatt has proven to be a near disaster for the Cavs this season, but we all know that LeBron James is the head coach in all but title. He and his teammates made that abundantly clear after the near debacle during game four of the series.
It also looks as if Tom Thibodeau's time is running short in Chicago. Although he has been successful there for years, and he won the NBA Head Coach of the Year in 2011, he hasn't been back to the Eastern Conference Finals since 2011 and has never made it to the NBA Finals. He's also even more intense than you thought.
All of these NBA jobs could be enticing to John Calipari. He would have a chance to reunite with Anthony Davis in New Orleans. He would have the chance to reunite with Derrick Rose in Chicago. And who wouldn't want the chance to coach the best player on the planet? And don't forget, Cal turned down a massive deal with the Cavaliers last season, but that was before the organization knew that LeBron would be returning.
In response to all of the NBA coaching scuttlebutt, cue freshly named Athletic Director of the Year Mitch Barnhart with a brand new contract extension for Cal. It has yet to be finalized but the details are staggering for a college basketball coach. The extension would run through 2022, and pay Cal $7.7 million a year. For comparison's sake, Nick Saban makes $6.9 million a year at Alabama; Charlie Strong makes $5 million a year at Texas; Mike Krzyewski makes $6 million at Duke; and Rick Pitino makes $4 million at Louisville.
Cal is getting paid, no doubt about it, and four Final Four appearances, a national title, a runner-up, consistent blockbuster recruiting, and a national title in the past five years alone is worth the money. But how much longer can Barnhart do this? How much money will he throw at Calipari before his time at Kentucky is finally up?
Don't get me wrong, I love everything Cal has done here, and if Barnhart has the money to pay him, pay the man. But it does get a little tiresome every season to have to go through the rumors and the contract extensions. But that's the burden of having a great coach. Other people want him and you are going to have to do all you can to keep him.
This will continue to be the annual tradition until coach Calipari either retires or does decide to head for the NBA. And who knows, he still may do that this season. A contract extension is just a gentleman's agreement in reality. There have been numerous situations in which a coach has signed a lengthy deal only to leave shortly after that, but the extension does give fans that warm and fuzzy feeling at the time. Right now things feel pretty good.
Of course, the Calipari haters were out in full force last night, poorly hiding their sour grapes by saying not-so-nice things about Cal, and taking shots at Big Blue Nation. They are totally baseless, hilarious, and without merit; but hey, we all need a good laugh from time to time. The only people showing themselves to be fools are the ones making tweets like this (And by the way, why does Denny Crum want revenge? Is it for Tom Jurich giving the Hall of Fame coach the old heave-ho so he could make room to hire Rick Pitino? Because that would make sense):
Wonder if Mike Krzyzewski with his 5 NCAA titles just asked for a raise?— rickbozich (@rickbozich) May 13, 2015
Kentucky is showing their ass at this point with the rumored Calipari contract figures. Highest form of desperation. Ticket prices going up.— CrumsRevenge (@CrumsRevenge) May 12, 2015
UK and UL have the exact amount of national titles since Calipari arrived and his price keeps shooting up. They can't sell more seats folks.— CrumsRevenge (@CrumsRevenge) May 12, 2015