Two days after the Brooklyn Nets fired their coach and reassigned the general manager, Kentucky Coach John Calipari tried to end speculation about being hired for both jobs.
“You may have heard me say this before: I absolutely have the best coaching job in sports, and I plan on being at Kentucky for a long time,” he tweeted Monday morning.
When asked on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference what made Kentucky the best coaching job in sports, Calipari mentioned “the championship culture” that makes winning at the highest level an achievable goal each season.
Calipari also pointed out that the UK coach doesn’t have to worry about increasing attendance or fund-raising.
“It’s a great job,” he said of being UK coach, “and one I appreciate having. And (I am) humbled to be here.”
It did not go unnoticed in New York City that Calipari’s denials came the same morning that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said he preferred to have a different person hold the coach and general manager positions.
So whomever the new coach is seemingly will not have total control of personnel.
After the Nets fired Lionel Hollins as coach and reassigned general manager Billy King on Saturday, Calipari’s name was mentioned as a possible successor of both men. Of course, Calipari coached the Nets, then located in New Jersey, from 1996-97 until 20 games into the 1998-99 season. He had a 72-112 record.
It is widely believed that the Nets CEO, Brett Yormark, has been promoting the hiring of Calipari as a savior for the franchise. Yormark held an entry level job with the Nets when Calipari was coach. With each having a knack for marketing and an irrepressible personality, Calipari became something of a mentor.
To put it mildly, the Nets have not developed a “championship culture.”
A series of ill-advised trades have stripped the Nets of several draft choices. Brooklyn does not control its first-round pick until the 2019 NBA Draft. The Boston Celtics have the Nets’ first-round picks in 2016 and 2018.
The Nets are expected to have roughly $40 million in cap space after this season. That might be enough to sign two highly regarded players. With so many former Kentucky players in the NBA, speculation held that Calipari’s presence could entice an ex-Cat to sign with Brooklyn.
Yahoo Sports reported that Calipari had spoken to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings in the past about coaching jobs. NBA sources say Calipari’s asking price is a 10-year contract worth $120 million, Yahoo Sports reported.
Calipari tried to squash such speculation about the Nets.
“I am not negotiating with ANYBODY,” the UK coach tweeted. “My total focus is on this team and winning the next game.”