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John Calipari mentioned as candidate for Los Angeles Lakers

This is not a headline from 2014, as Calipari is reportedly willing to explore leaving Kentucky.

Calipari Sea of Blue

Whether you love John Calipari or can’t stand him, there’s really no question he’s sticking with the Kentucky Wildcats until ‘he’ decides to do something else.

While Calipari has let the program slip since making four Final Fours in five years from 2011-15, he’s still one of the game’s better coaches and will likely continue to have enough success to keep his job, especially with his monstrous buyout.

What are the chances he could leave for another job?

According to NBA reporter Sean Deveney, Calipari is willing to leave Kentucky, and the Los Angeles Lakers could be an NBA option, assuming they eventually fire embattled head coach Frank Vogel.

“I have heard that Calipari would be willing to consider leaving Kentucky,” Deveney said. “He is a god there for sure, and it is a comfortable situation, but the college game is getting tougher and tougher and the pro game does have the big money you can kick back and collect, and you don’t have to worry about recruiting.”

Fellow NBA reporter Steve Bulpett added that Calipari has been long been searching for the right situation to make a return to the NBA, though Bulpett is rightfully skeptical if it could work.

“Cal has, the word I’ve gotten, is that he has wanted to be back in the NBA for a long time, but he has been looking for the right situation,” Bulpett said. “It’s weird, it is hard for a college coach that has been that big a part of their program, to do the kind of change that is necessary to be an NBA coach. You’re not the program in the NBA. It would be difficult for any college coach who has established what Calipari has established.”

You’ll probably remember how former Wildcat Rex Chapman called Calipari to the Lakers back in 2014. That didn’t happen, but to be fair, Calipari did come very close to leaving for the NBA that year.

If Calipari were to join the Lakers, he would potentially get to coach LeBron James, as well as former Wildcats Anthony Davis and Malik Monk. Wenyen Gabriel is also there, though that might be a little awkward.

Personally, I still think John Calipari is the best option for head coach of the Kentucky’s men’s basketball program. He’s had some struggles recently, but he also had the Wildcats in position for a deep NCAA Tournament run until that late-season injury to star guard TyTy Washington.

And while I don’t see a scenario where Oscar Tshiebwe ‘and’ Shaedon Sharpe are both on the roster next season, if by some miracle it were to happen, Kentucky is instantly one of, if not the favorite to win it all next season.

Plus, if Calipari were to leave, who replaces him?

One of the first names that would be mentioned is two-time national champion Billy Donovan, but he seems committed to staying in the NBA, especially now that the Chicago Bulls have a very bright future ahead of them.

I can’t see Jay Wright leaving Villanova, especially after taking the program to another Final Four, his third trip there since 2016.

Kenny Payne isn’t leaving the Louisville Cardinals after the UofL alum just became their head coach.

Baylor Bears coach Scott Drew would an interesting candidate, but outside of his 2021 championship during a watered down college hoops season due to COVID-19, he doesn’t even have another Elite Eight trip since the 2012-13 season. He also got in a bit of hot water in the NCAA not that long ago.

Chris Beard is another option, but it will be tough to outbid Texas and its war chest for his services.

Tony Bennett did win the 2019 natty, but he’s another defensive-focused head coach whose offense can be downright dreadful (imagine 40 minutes of Kentucky’s last-shot offense).

Oh, and do you really trust Mitch Barnhart to make the best hire possible?

Finally, and probably most importantly, I just can’t see any NBA team wanting to hire Calipari right now. Some teams may show interest, but I’d be shocked if someone actually offered him a head-coaching job.