May 4, 2010, 10:08 PM EDT
We said it before, we’ll say it again: The Bulls can’t fire Vinny Del Negro and then replace him with just another retread coach. If they want to be considered contenders again, want to draw the big free agents, they need to make a splash with the hire.
And Phil Jackson took himself out of the running tonight, sorry to spoil your pipe dream, Chicago.
John Calipari would be a splash. Who knows if the Kentucky coach is really a good choice to return to the NBA — there are questions — but the name certainly is intriguing. According to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo he wants the job.
Kentucky coach John Calipari is intrigued with the Chicago Bulls’ coaching job and would be willing to listen to a pitch from management, NBA and NCAA sources told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.
Calipari could be an intriguing candidate on several levels for the Bulls. He coached Bulls star point guard, Derrick Rose(notes), at the University of Memphis, and his strong ties with the powerful agency, CAA, could give the organization leverage in free agency this summer.
To be less subtle — Calipari is represented by CAA, so are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Plus lets not forget, the ultimate basketball matchmaker William Wesley is now a CAA employee.
Let’s also note this is mostly a negotiations tactic — Calipari and Kentucky are currently negotiating a new deal, better than the eight-year one that paid him just shy of $4 million annually.
Calipari does meet the Bulls criteria of having coached in the NBA before, the Nets from 1996 to 1998 (two plus seasons) and compiled a record of 72-112. He was a young, brash, hotheaded coach who clashed with the media and reportedly management. He was also naive enough for Jerry West to talk him out of drafting Kobe Bryant (so West could get him).
He wouldn’t be that guy anymore, Calipari would be more mature. Maybe. Notice that Calipari’s people (who we assume leaked this based on the timing and phrasing) said “he would be willing to listen to a pitch.” Meaning he wants the Bulls to come recruit him. Good luck with that.
Then there’s the little detail of money. It would likely take in the $5 million a year range to get Calipari out of Kentucky. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf got to the point of talking money with Mike D’Antoni a couple years ago and reportedly balked at that kind of spending. D’Antoni went to New York and the Bulls went cheap with Del Negro. And here they are searching again.
Still, got to admit the name would make a splash.
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