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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari Reportedly 'Open' to Returning to NBA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 16, 2021

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Kentucky head coach John Calipari "would be open to jumping back into the NBA," according to Yahoo Sports' Ben Rohrbach and Vincent Goodwill.

A high-ranking NBA executive told Yahoo Sports that Calipari "may have maxed out at Kentucky," thus leading him to seek opportunities outside college basketball.

Kentucky won a national championship under Calipari in 2012 and reached the title game in 2014. The Wildcats also made Final Four appearances in 2011 and 2015. 

In general, the program became an assembly line for blue-chip recruits who harbored realistic NBA dreams. Every season, Calipari watches his best players leave after a year or two and reload with a star-studded class.

However, the Yahoo Sports report outlines how some are beginning to wonder whether Kentucky and Calipari would be better off separating. 

Even in a season impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a 9-16 record in 2020-21 couldn't simply be dismissed. The Wildcats staff is failing to maximize the talent that's arriving in Lexington.

Calipari had a forgettable two-plus seasons with the NBA's New Jersey Nets. He guided the franchise to the playoffs in 1997-98 but was fired midway through his third year after the Nets started 3-17.

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Between the experience he gained through his first professional go-round and the fact that he has coached a number of NBA stars during their college days, the 62-year-old makes sense as a candidate for vacancies across the league.

The track record of college coaches moving on to the NBA has been a mixed bag at best, though.

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