Ever since Vivek Ranadivé took over the Sacramento Kings there have been very persistent rumors about certain players and personnel that this team wanted. The Kings and Rajon Rondo were connected for years before they teamed up this summer in free agency. Another prominent name that has been connected to Sacramento has been University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
Calipari has repeatedly denied that he wants to come to the NBA and leave Kentucky, where he is universally beloved and also makes more money than most NBA coaches (including Kings coach George Karl). Yesterday Adrian Wojnarowski wrote an article detailing the dysfunction of the Nets and their desire to make Calipari their basketball czar. In it were some intriguing hints as to what it would take to convince Calipari to leave Kentucky and join the NBA, based on conversations that Calipari has had with Sacramento Kings minority ownership.
When Calipari spoke with minority ownership in Sacramento last spring, he told them that it would take an offer of $11 million-plus a year to get his attention, league sources said. Calipari turned down a 10-year, $80 million-plus offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, because he wouldn't leave Kentucky with only an incremental raise on what is now an $8 million to $9 million annual package on campus.
Cleveland's offer has become a baseline for Calipari's contractual demands: He wants the 10 years and now the $12 million a year that Phil Jackson makes to run the Knicks...
...Eventually, Calipari engaged in conversations with the Kings on and off for several weeks, but owner Vivek Ranadive didn't have the minority ownership support to authorize that kind of an investment, sources told Yahoo Sports.
One minority owner with the Kings, who was part of multiple calls with Calipari, told confidants, "He kept saying it wasn't about the money, but he kept talking about the money."
Calipari went on Twitter soon after Wojnarowski's report to reiterate that he wasn't negotiating with any team and that he planned on being in Kentucky for a long time.
I am not negotiating with ANYBODY. My total focus is on this team and winning the next game.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 11, 2016
Asking for 10 years, $120 million and control of both the coaching staff and the front office is hardly a negotiation. Nobody has given out that kind of contract to a coach before, especially one without a real track record in the NBA. The risk involved is overwhelming, as it's such a big contract that you can't afford to change direction in the middle of it if things go wrong. So much can happen in 10 years. The Kings have had 9 coaches and 3 GMs in that time. It's not a risk that I can envision the Sacramento Kings taking or wanting. Wojnarowski says Calipari's best-case scenario would involve a bidding war between the Kings and Nets, but I say let the Nets have him if they want to give him that much money and control. There are better options out there at significantly less cost and risk.