Longtime college basketball coach John Calipari could be making a return to the NBA. Or at the very least, he’s open to the opportunity.
According to reports from Yahoo Sports, Coach Cal, 62, would consider a move to the professional ranks if given the right offer. “Calipari is a bit of a surprise here, but multiple sources tell Yahoo Sports Calipari would be open to jumping back into the NBA,” the article states.
If there was ever a time for the Kentucky head coach to leave the college game, it’s now.
In 2020-21, the Wildcats recorded their worst season ever under Coach Cal. Going 9-16 and missing the NCAA Tournament, the 12th-year Kentucky head coach struggled to lead a talented young roster amid an unprecedented COVID-19 season. And although he has two incoming 5-star recruits heading to Lexington this coming season, his once-successful model of young one-and-done talent hasn’t exactly yielded the same results in recent years.
“He may have maxed out at Kentucky,” a high-ranking executive reportedly told Yahoo Sports.
Following his first head coaching job at UMASS, Calipari took his talents to the NBA as head coach of the New Jersey Nets. That transition didn’t go exactly as planned — notching a 72-112 overall record through two and a half seasons. From there, he went on to serve as an assistant coach for the 76ers before returning to the college game at Memphis in 2000.
While his first NBA campaign was overwhelmingly unsuccessful, decades more of head coaching experience could help him make the jump.
“College basketball is a sinking ship,” another NBA executive said, via Yahoo Sports. “He is much different than his first go-round but that ego is hard to tame.”