John Calipari to the Lakers? Why not?
Just before the Kentucky-UConn game this evening, a rumor was shared courtesy of former Ketucky player and NBA executive, Rex Chapman.
According to Chapman, Calipari will leave Kentucky after this season – win or lose – and is a “done deal” to replace Mike D’Antoni as the head coach of the purple and gold.
While Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak later denied the rumors, according to the L.A. Times, it’s worth noting that this is the expected response by Kupchak seeing as D’Antoni is currently the team’s head coach.
Of course, there is also a chance that Kupchak is telling the truth and Calipari to L.A. isn’t on the cards. But what if the rumor is true and Calipari will be manning the sidelines for the Lakers next season?
First off, hiring Calipari would likely appease Kobe Bryant who grew extremely close to the head coach before the 1996 NBA Draft.
Calipari, then the head coach of the New Jersey Nets, seemed intent on drafting Bryant – Kobe’s parents even had dinner with Calipari the night before the draft – until Jerry West called the legendary college coach and talked him out of it just hours before the big night.
The Nets instead selected Kerry Kittles and Calipari missed out on the opportunity to coach Bryant. Could he finally get his shot?
Then there’s LeBron James, and this is where things get interesting.
Before James hit free agency in 2010, there were rumors of LeBron and Calipari – who are still friends to this day – scheming to become a “package deal” and sign with the Chicago Bulls. These claims were vehemently denied by Calipari – if true, there would’ve been huge penalties – and LeBron ended up going to Miami.
However, who knows what could’ve happened if those rumors never surfaced?
Now, LeBron is in a situation where he can opt-out of his deal this summer and become a free agent once again. Could the Lakers hire Calipari and land LeBron at the same time?
Of course, right now this is just a whole lot of speculation and it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not, but if Calipari and James sign with the Lakers this summer, you heard it here first.