Why John Calipari Should Never Leave for the Knicks or Any NBA Team
Kentucky just won the national championship, but John Calipari is already looking ahead to next year. So are many people, as immediately there were questions raised on whether Calipari would look to make the jump to the NBA.
“Kentucky is the best job in basketball coaching,” Calipari said, via ESPN. “Why would I leave? We just won the national title. We're chasing UCLA.”
Some doubt his sincerity, but I believe college basketball is the place for him for the next few years of his career. We'll look at some of the top reasons he has absolutely no reason to leave Kentucky:
Ability to Bring in Talent
Kentucky doesn't rebuild—they reload, and that's because John Calipari is a recruiting monster. It's possible that he could lose each of his starting five, but so what? Archie Goodwyn, a 6'4" guard and the No. 12 recruit in the country, and Alex Poythress, a 6'8" forward and the No. 19 recruit in the country, (rankings via Rivals.com) have already committed to Kentucky for next season.
On top of that, Shabazz Muhammad—the top recruit in the class of 2012—said Kentucky’s win “boosted their option for me.” If they were to land him, or Anthony Bennett—the No. 7 recruit—who is also strongly considering Kentucky, they would be in just about the same position they were at coming into this season: stocked with NBA talent, just needing a coach to put the puzzle together.
Players want to play for Calipari's program. Put simply, he gets you drafted (translation: paid).
There's no reason, no matter who leaves, to think that Kentucky won't be in the mix for the national championship next season. Given the quality of the players already on their roster and those that will be added to it next year, don't doubt that Kentucky will make another deep run next year.
Control over the Team
At Kentucky, John Calipari has almost complete control over who plays on his team. Obviously, if it were up to him, he would get the top player at each position in every year's class—and sometimes it seems like he does—but the players he is able to bring in are always outstanding. In the NBA, coaches have to deal with the hand they're dealt more often than not. (Somewhere, Paul Silas is agreeing, sadly. Somewhere further south, Erik Spoelstra is nodding and smiling while cleaning Pat Riley's shoes.)
The way the salary cap and the draft are set up, the only way Calipari's recruiting techniques would come into play are free agency, and who's to say his pitch would have the same effect on NBA veterans as it does on wide-eyed 17 and 18-year-olds?
When it comes down to it, Calipari's success in college basketball is largely due to his unbelievable recruiting ability. He is a very good basketball coach, but I wouldn't give him great. Yet. I just don't think that he necessarily would have taken Louisville's, or even Ohio State's roster to the Final Four this year. That's why college basketball is the spot for him to have his highest level of success at this point in his career.
John Calipari has a reason to smile, and it has nothing to do with the national championship his team just won. This past offseason, he signed an eight-year contract worth over $4.5 million per year. There are only six coaches in the NBA making more money than that, and three have at least made it to an NBA finals.
Realistically, would it even be worth taking the extra money? Once the guys on your team are making more money than you, they just respect you less. They start to become concerned with their "brands" and stats. Less players buy into your system and respect what you're trying to do—just win.
Personally, I think Calipari would be better of as the leader of a team of young kids, helping them to reach their goals, part of an organization where he can use his basketball knowledge to lead a team of uber-talented players with a singular focus: a national championship. Sure, Calipari says he wants to chase UCLA's unbeaten season, but come March next year, I'm sure he'll be happy to settle for a run at another championship.