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Expect to hear John Calipari’s name for NBA openings

Apr 4, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

NCAA Men's Final Four - Kentucky v UConn Getty Images

Last year, when LeBron James had yet to decide where his talents should go (at least officially), Kentucky coach John Calipari was a hot name. There were reports that William Wesley — the behind-the-scenes power broker now working for CAA — was trying to sell LeBron and Calipari as a package to the Bulls and Clippers.

That never happened (the Bulls went with another CAA client in Tom Thibodeau, the Clippers went with the Bulls rejects).

But that doesn’t mean Calipari doesn’t want another shot in the NBA. He struggled in two-and-a-quarter years at the helm of the Nets in the late ‘90s (although he did get a team led by Keith Van Horn and Sam Cassell to the playoffs one season) and he wants another shot, according to a note in the New York Daily News.

Calipari recently left the distinct impression that, although he is recruiting and conducting business, as usual, as Kentucky’s basketball coach, he “wants back in,” according to a source. Calipari has never gotten over how he was fired by the Nets 20 games into the 1999 lockout season….

Calipari’s stock has risen in recent seasons among more than a few GMs, and he’s got close ties to William (Wes’) Wesley, the CAA powerbroker who has an in with several teams, including Miami, via CAA clients, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and the Knicks, with Anthony, another CAA’er.

Calipari is not coming back to another 90s Nets situation — he wants a big stage and somewhere he can win. He has a good gig and leverage, he doesn’t have to take any job offered. It’s hard to see Pat Riley going with someone he might not be able to control in Miami. Predicting what James Dolan might do in New York is a fool’s errand. There may or may not be vacancies in either of those markets anyway.

But expect to hear the name come up for some high-profile openings.

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