John Calipari

Atlantic Notes: Calipari, Knicks, Brown, Nets

Kentucky’s John Calipari doesn’t seem like a realistic option to be the next coach of the Knicks because of the money it would take to land him, Ian Begley of writes. Calipari has a strong relationship with team president Leon Rose, so nothing can be ruled out. However, many other names, such as coach Tom Thibodeau and Kenny Atkinson, appear to be more realistic fits.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes the Sixers should give Brett Brown at least one more year. Ford argues that Brown has held this team together and is not the problem in Philadelphia.
  • Chris Chiozza, who is on a two-way contract, joined the Nets earlier in the season and the franchise is impressed with the point guard. Yet, if he is going to join the team for a playoff run, Brooklyn will need to waive somebody — Theo Pinson could be the odd man out, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post explains.
  • The Nets haven’t fully realized Taurean Prince‘s potential, Lewis contends in a separate piece. Brooklyn acquired and extended Prince last offseason and he has spent most of his time playing the four, which is not his natural position.

Knicks Notes: Wesley, Calipari, Sanon, Harkless, Rose

William Wesley is not expected to join the Knicks front office in any formal capacity, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. Known around NBA circles as “Worldwide Wes,” Wesley is a business partner of player agent Leon Rose, who is expected to be named the team’s head of basketball operations. It’s believed the Knicks would offer a position to Wesley if he wanted a front-office role, but his other business ventures make a formal title unlikely, Charania adds.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Former Kentucky players Kevin Knox and Julius Randle doubt that their former college coach, John Calipari, would want to return to the NBA to coach the team, Peter Botte of the New York Post relays. “The fans love him there, he’s got the basketball program on lock there,” Knox said. “I don’t think he would leave that opportunity to keep helping kids get to the NBA. That’s something he really loves to do. I think when he said he wasn’t going to do it, I think he was sold on that. I think he really doesn’t want to leave.”
  • It’s doubtful Ukrainian guard Issuf Sanon will ever play for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Sanon was thrown into the three-team trade that sent Marcus Morris to the Clippers. New York acquired Sanon from Washington, which made him a draft-and-stash second-round pick in 2018. It’s possible he could join the Knicks’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Berman adds.
  • Forward Maurice Harkless, who was also acquired from the Clippers in the same trade, is thrilled to join the organization, Berman writes in a separate story. Harkless has an expiring $11MM contract and could be bought out but he has an affinity for the Knicks. “It’s a dream come true,’’ he said. “I was a Knicks fan growing up. I loved watching the Knicks on TV, I loved coming to the Garden for games when I could. And I actually played at the Garden in college, too, so it’s like I’ve come full circle now.’’
  • Rose’s connections around the league could make him the right fit to run the Knicks, NBA executives told Ian Begley of

Knicks Notes: Monk, DSJ, D-Lo, Rose, Payton, More

Before Steve Mills was removed from his position as the Knicks‘ president of basketball operations, there was some internal support for a potential trade with the Hornets that would have sent Malik Monk to New York, according to Ian Begley of

Begley notes that Dennis Smith Jr. would’ve gone to Charlotte in the deal, though it’s not clear what other pieces would have been involved on either side. Both Smith and Monk were prospects the Knicks passed over in the 2017 draft for Frank Ntilikina.

Within his roundup of the Knicks’ deadline discussions, Begley also says that before Mills’ departure, there were members of the organization that felt as if they’d made “significant progress” toward a D’Angelo Russell trade with the Warriors.

We don’t know exactly how those talks played out, so it’s hard to say whether that confidence was warranted. But for what it’s worth, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported on Wednesday that none of New York’s offers had been “even remotely appealing” to Golden State. One of the Knicks’ proposals included Bobby Portis, Allonzo Trier, Ntilikina, and presumably some form of draft compensation, sources tell Begley.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a look at the Knicks’ impending hire of agent Leon Rose as their new head of basketball operations, citing one NBA executive who said, “MSG and CAA have been in bed for years. This shouldn’t be surprising.”
  • Berman notes in his article on Rose that the veteran agent is tight with Kentucky head coach John Calipari. However, Calipari said today that he has no plans to become the Knicks’ next coach, according to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic (Twitter link). Calipari said he’d help Rose in any way he can — “It just wouldn’t be to coach.”
  • One decision Rose will face this summer will be on Elfrid Payton‘s $8MM non-guaranteed salary for 2020/21. Berman examines the factors that will go into that decision, pointing out that Payton is a CAA client.
  • In an interview on Showtime’s “All the Smoke,” Kevin Durant was once again asked about his free agency decision last summer. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post details, Durant replied that he didn’t seriously consider any teams beside the Nets. “I looked at other places — the Clippers, I took a peek at the Knicks just to do my due diligence — but I really wanted to play for the black and white,” Durant said.

And-Ones: Calipari, Trice, Ochefu, Pistons

After receiving some interest from UCLA, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has elected to remain with the Wildcats, and the program made it worth his while to do so, reports Jeff Borzello of According to Borzello, Calipari – who was already under contract through 2024 – has agreed to an extension that will run through his retirement, and will also feature a lifetime role as an ambassador to the university.

“Where else would I want to coach?” Calipari said on his radio show in confirming the news.

Calipari reportedly received a six-year, $48MM offer from UCLA before electing to extend his agreement with Kentucky, per Seth Davis of The Athletic. The 60-year-old is the highest-paid head coach in the NCAA ranks, earning a reported $9.2MM salary this season.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Travis Trice, a veteran G League guard who has been in camp with the Knicks and Bucks in recent years, is headed to Turkey to continue his professional career. After averaging 16.9 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.3 RPG in 36 total NBAGL games this season for the Austin Spurs and Wisconsin Herd, Trice has officially signed with Tofas SK, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Former Wizards center Daniel Ochefu, who appeared in 19 games for Washington in 2016/17, has signed with Spanish team CB Breogan, according to an announcement from the club (via Twitter). Ochefu spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate, posting 14.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 39 games (24.2 MPG).
  • The Pistons will enter the offseason looking to fortify their point guard and wing spots, but won’t have much financial flexibility to do so. As such, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press wonders if attempting to re-sign Ish Smith and Wayne Ellington might make the most sense for the club.

Calipari Meets With NBPA About Eligibility Changes

Kentucky coach John Calipari met with NBA Players Association representatives last week to explain his ideas for major reforms to the “one-and-done” process and the G League, writes Mac Engel of The Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Calipari advocates a system that would create an easier path for high school players who want to go directly to the pro ranks. He is urging the union to set up a “combine” for high school juniors.

“Kids should be able to go [to the NBA] out of high school,” he said. “That’s not our deal. That’s between the NBA and the Players Association. Don’t put restrictions on kids.”

Calipari sees failure in the current rules, adopted by the NBA and the union in 2007, that stipulate players have to be at least age 19 or a year past graduation to be eligible for the draft. The purpose was to reduce the role of agents, but their reach has become greater than ever.

He envisions a system similar to minor league baseball, with the NBA providing G League players with salaries in the $30K range, along with money for college tuition.

What do we do with these kids now,” Calipari asked. “What do we do if they are not academically ready at all, because they didn’t plan on it. Who wants to take care of those thousands of kids whose family, many times, are dealing with generational poverty and their chance was maybe to get him an education?

“Now, how many kids do you think who went thinking, ‘I’m here one, or two, and done and stayed all four years? It’s been proven by the graduation rates it’s a ton. What’s wrong with that? I don’t care what they do, but let’s not force them to go to the G League. If they choose to do that, that’s fine, but why don’t we make sure if they don’t make it in, they at least have a chance at a guaranteed education.”

Gasol, Fizdale Tensions Went Far Beyond Benching

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol and former coach David Fizdale had such a strained relationship that they rarely spoke to one another, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Geoff Calkins. Fizdale was fired on Monday, one day after he benched his leading scorer, rebounder and shotblocker in the fourth quarter against the Nets. The benching served as the breaking point and Gasol, who has a tight relationship with owner Robert Pera, had expressed major concerns about the team’s direction under Fizdale, Calkins continues.

Commercial Appeal beat writer Ronald Tillery confirms the longterm disconnect between coach and star player. A team source told Tillery that the tension between them and Sunday’s benching weren’t the only reasons that Fizdale was axed. That source said the team was “trending down in several categories.” However, Tillery tweets that as recently as Saturday, a source close to the owner said that Fizdale’s job was safe because of the team’s injury issues. That’s an indication that Sunday’s incident swiftly changed Pera’s thinking.

In other reactions to Fizdale’s dismissal:

  • Cavaliers stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both expressed their dismay on social media, demanding answers regarding the firing, as Joe Vardon of relays. Both played under Fizdale when he was an assistant with the Heat.
  • Interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff is one of the potential long-term replacements for Fizdale but Sean Deveney of the Sporting News lists several other intriguing names. Former head coaches Mark Jackson, David Blatt and Monty Williams, former player Shane Battier, and several current college coaches such as Tony Bennett, Patrick Ewing and John Calipari are some of the candidates Memphis could look at, according to Deveney.

Calipari Denies Interest In Knicks Presidency

10:15pm: Calipari has vehemently denied the report over Twitter, saying that he intends to be the coach at Kentucky for a long time.

6:01pm: Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari has reached out through intermediaries to express an interest in the Knicks’ presidency, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets.

The report is corroborated by ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk who adds, in his own tweet, that Calipari has been interested in a return to the NBA but only for the “right job.”

New York, of course, has been seeking a a replacement at the top level ever since the franchise parted ways with Phil Jackson yesterday. Already linked to the franchise have been Isiah Thomas, Masai Ujiri, David Griffin and Sam Presti.

While Calipari has seen action in the NBA before, it seems like a lifetime ago that he patrolled the sidelines for the Nets and 76ers. From 1996-1998, he managed a 72-112 record as the head coach in New Jersey.

Calipari’s NBA Debut: The 1996-97 New Jersey Nets (26-56)

The entirety of Calipari’s previous professional stint, then, came before he evolved into the college game’s most vaunted recruiter, a characteristic that makes him far more appealing than any Xs and Os experience.

Having an asset like Calipari involved with the franchise could be a boon for the Knicks, considering the sheer amount of players he has either coached or recruited over his years with Kentucky and Memphis.

Suffice it to say, all Begley’s tweet suggests is that Calipari has expressed an interest in the position and there’s no guarantee that the interest is mutual at this point in time.

Draft Combine Notes: Durant, Calipari, Hart, And More

To Combine or not to Combine? That is the question to which Kevin Durant and John Calipari are now adding their two cents. The Warriors star encourages expected lottery picks to skip the event altogether, writes Chris Haynes of ESPN. Durant expressed his strong feeling that while the Draft Combine can certainly aid lesser-known and lesser-valued players looking to raise their draft stock, those projected to be taken in the lottery should stay home and work on improving their game. Durant remarked how the vast majority of skills for which the Combine tests, including bench press at which he struggled mightily at his event, have little to no impact on how a player will perform on a basketball court.

Kentucky’s head coach said that players should attend the Combine, but that each should skip individual events if he believes it will not boost his draft value, according to Michael Singer of USA Today.

Kings Notes: Rebuild, Bogdanovic, Seattle

If the Kings are to succeed in their rebuild – one that they committed to by trading DeMarcus Cousins in February – they’ll need to take advantage of their lottery picks, Bobby Marks of The Vertical writes.

Last year the Kings traded down in the draft, this year they’ll need to add “quality over quantity” with, presumably, two Top 10 picks.

Marks also comments on the club’s flexibility post-Cousins and warns that the organization should steer clear of locking into long-term contracts with other players. A wiser approach, he says, would be to focus on one- and two-year contracts.

Pacific Notes: Labissiere, Randle, Suns

The Kings have done a fine job giving their young big men an opportunity to develop this season, as Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee recounts. For 2016 28th overall pick Skal Labissiere, the opportunities let him show all the teams that passed on him what they’re missing.

Sparsely used in the first three months of the season as the Kings flirted with the idea of the competing for the postseason, Labissiere has seen more time on the court as the year has progressed. In three April games, the 21-year-old has played 29.0 minutes per.

I’m feeling a little more comfortable out there,” the Kings center said. “It’s me learning at my own pace, not getting rushed, learning how to see things on the court. […] I’m nowhere near [physically] where I want to be. But this should be a fun summer. Lots of time with the weights, and working on all aspects of my game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • It’s harder to deny the appeal of tanking when your draft picks are tied up in previously negotiated trades. Such was the case when the Lakers and Kings met Friday, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. The Lakers had incentive to lose in order to keep their top-3 protected pick. The Kings had incentive to lose to keep their top-10 protected pick. (The Lakers won).
  • The Suns have undergone an extensive evaluation period over the course of the final months of the regular season. Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic takes a thorough look at what we’ve been able to learn from it.
  • Count Kentucky head coach John Calipari among Julius Randle‘s biggest supporters, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. Calipari recently spoke with Lakers coach Luke Walton about the forward. “If you can just get a bunch of guys that will fight every possession, you’re winning,” Calipari told Walton. “The dude is going to fight.