On Monday night, Kentucky head coach John Calipari almost helped the Wildcats become the lowest seed to win a national championship. Soon after losing to UConn, the 55-year-old was already answering questions about making the leap to the NBA.
A rumor began to circulate before the contest that Calipari’s days with the Wildcats were numbered. Before tip-off, former Kentucky star Rex Chapman posted on Twitter that Calipari would be jumping ship to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Word is - win or lose 2nite - it's a #DoneDeal ...Cal 2 La-La-Land 2 coach Mamba's Lakers. #NoBS,” Chapman wrote on Twitter.
After the loss, Calipari indicated that he would be staying put. However, the coach didn’t give an outright denial in regards to the rumors.
"The Lakers have a basketball coach. Kentucky has a basketball coach. I have the best job in the country," Calipari said.
Last season, Mike D’Antoni replaced Mike Brown as the Lakers’ head coach. He signed a three-year contract worth $12 million. D’Antoni, though, hasn’t had a successful stint with L.A. After being swept in the first round of last year’s playoffs, D’Antoni and the Lakers have one of the NBA’s worst records. As the team finished one of the worst seasons in Lakers history, there have been rumors that D’Antoni will be fired.
The Lakers have been riddled with injuries, and Kobe Bryant has missed almost the entire 2013-2014 season. It’s hard to imagine that any coach could have led their current roster to the postseason. Despite the team’s struggles, the Lakers claim no discussions have been held with Calipari.
“I spoke to [General Manager] Mitch Kupchak and he said the rumor is untrue,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “Mike D’Antoni is our coach. There have been no conversations about any specific names for any replacement.”
On Tuesday, Chapman did not back down from his comments. He told The Dan Patrick Show that he has information from two sources. One told him that Calipari was headed to Los Angeles, no matter Monday’s outcome.
The 55-year-old joined Kentucky in 2009, and the program has maintained its position as a college basketball powerhouse. The Wildcats have reached the Final Four in three of the last four seasons, and won a national title in 2012. He’s also led UMass and Memphis to the Final Four as a head coach.
In the NBA, however, Calipari has been unable to match his college success. He spent parts of three seasons as the head coach of the then-New Jersey Nets. He made one playoff appearance as the No.8 seed, but left the pros with an overall winning percentage of .391.