The rumors come, the rumors go but John Calipari remains at Kentucky.
The latest, reported Thursday evening by Ian Begley of ESPN, says that the UK head coach reached out to the New York Knicks upon learning that Phil Jackson departed as team president Wednesday.
Begley’s report, citing sources, said Calipari expressed interest in Jackson’s job “through intermediaries” but that the Knicks are not currently interested in Calipari. Begley also presumed that Calipari would want to coach the team if hired as president.
General Manager Steve Mills is handling the team’s operation after Jackson’s departure. The Knicks, whom star player Carmelo Anthony once called “the laughingstock of the league,” have missed the playoffs four consecutive seasons.
Calipari most recently worked in the NBA as an assistant coach with Philadelphia in 2000 after he was fired as coach of the then-New Jersey Nets.
Calipari is currently in Cairo, Egypt, leading Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Cup.
He “is six hours ahead of us and not available for comment at this time,” UK spokesman Eric Lindsey said Thursday night. “We will let you know when we have something to report or a response.”
The coach agreed to a two-year contract extension with Kentucky in March. Calipari’s total guaranteed compensation, including base salary, media/endorsement payments and retention bonuses is $8 million for the extension, which runs through March 30, 2024.
Calipari, 58, has completed eight seasons as Kentucky’s head coach, leading UK to four Final Fours and the 2012 national championship.
Calipari has shot down numerous NBA rumors in recent seasons. Last winter, speculation tied him to the New Orleans Pelicans after the team paired up ex-Cats DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
Last fall, Calipari said he had no plans to leave Kentucky while his son Brad, a freshman member of the team at the time, was still enrolled in school.
“My son’s now here, so my son’s walking on; I’m not gonna leave,” Calipari told ESPN at the time. “I would say four to five years is a lock, and then after that, (shoot), I may be hanging it up. At that point, I’d be 60, 61. I never thought I would coach past the age of 60 because I’m not ... basketball isn’t my life.”
Calipari’s college coach, Joe DeGregorio, said Thursday night that he’s not so sure the UK coach is ready to wrap things up.
“I think John is a coach. He’s still in his 50s. Maybe you get to 60, you want to do something,” DeGregorio said. “I think he still has fire in his belly to keep going.”
DeGregorio speculated that Calipari might be open to a non-coaching challenge such as a team presidency at some point.
Earlier in 2016, reports linked Calipari to the Nets, a team he coached to a 72-112 record from 1996-99. Calipari has also been the subject of rumors involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings in recent seasons.
At the end of the 2016-17 season, players who performed under Calipari at Kentucky dotted 15 of the NBA’s rosters. Three more Kentucky players were drafted into the league last week: De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo.