Even before his Kentucky Wildcats lost the National Championship to Connecticut, rumors were already flying that head coach John Calipari would again make the transition to the NBA.
LeBron James for one isn't buying it.
LeBron on friend Calipari:“I'd be very surprised if he made jump (to NBA).He loves challenge of bringing in guys & turning them into a team"— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) April 8, 2014
Apparently the Los Angeles Lakers weren't either.
Lakers are refuting Calipari to Lakers story put out by Rex Chapman before NCAA tip: GM Mitch Kupchak says "rumor is untrue"— Chris Dufresne (@DufresneLATimes) April 8, 2014
Much as it might make sense for someone to replace Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni, most signs apparently aren't pointing to Calipari.
James' arguments make good sense. Some guys were just built for the college game, relishing the opportunity to take inexperienced talent and transform it seemingly overnight. It's hard to find many coaching candidates better adept at taking a group of freshmen all the way.
If it is true, the big question is what Kobe Bryant would think of it. Is he on board with a coach whose first run in the pros with the Nets didn't end well, especially the part where his team drafted Kerry Kittles over Bryant? (Calipari has maintained he was forced into that decision.)
Still, others have argued that Calipari just can't cut it in the NBA. Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel suggests that his personality is too "polarizing," noting that the, "best coaches [in the NBA] avoid personal attention as if it were a 98-mph fastball under the chin."
If the rumors are bogus, life will go on as planned—at least for Calipari. That doesn't necessarily mean the Lakers are sticking with D'Antoni, who has just one season remaining on his contract. Marshall reportedly expressed interests in his services in March, but D'Antoni downplayed any talk of an imminent decision according to USA Today's Sam Amick:
I love Marshall, and I've been so close to them for a long time – especially with the new (athletic director) and the new president, and people there. It's a great thing. But my heart is here, and my head is here. This is what I know, so I don't want to get distracted with that. I never have been. It always comes up when they're looking, but they're looking and I'm fine.
Fine for now, anyway. We'll check back in on that one.