The days get longer. Graduation ceremonies and senior proms dot social calendars. Rumors surface of the Kentucky basketball coach being interested in going to the NBA.
The annual rites of spring Kentucky style extended to the UK coach Wednesday.
Quoting “multiple sources,” Yahoo Sports reported that John Calipari would be open to returning to the NBA. This posting had barely made a splash on social media when the UK coach responded with a conclusive-sounding tweet that suggested he saw an ulterior motive behind the annual the-coach-might-leave-Kentucky speculation.
“It’s that time of the year!” he tweeted. “Why do rumors always start when we’re in the middle of recruiting?”
With that, Calipari seemed to reject the idea of leaving UK for the NBA. He gave himself no wiggle room.
“I have the best job in the country w/ the best opportunity to impact young people & add value to their careers — and that hasn’t changed,” his tweet continued. “This season can’t come fast enough! Let’s go!”
The Yahoo Sports posting cited the “massive expectations” associated with Kentucky basketball as a reason Calipari would consider an NBA job. It also suggested Calipari might have soured on the job because college basketball has become “a sinking ship,” presumably a reference to the increasing number of players opting to play in the G League or overseas as a means of preparing for the NBA, and almost 1,700 players in the transfer portal.
As of Wednesday, six NBA teams were looking for coaches: Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.
Calipari just concluded his 12th season as Kentucky coach. In 2019, his contract was sweetened for the seventh time. The most recent enhancement made it a 10-year deal set to expire after the 2028-29 season. Calipari would turn 70 on Feb. 10, 2029, hence the moniker of “lifetime contract” was put on the contract extension.
Calipari’s contract calls for a base salary of $400,000 per year. Counting media and endorsement agreements, he is scheduled to make $8.1 million in each of the next four seasons, then $8.6 million in 2025-26, 2026-27, 2027-28 and 2028-29.
After the 2023-24 season, Calipari would have the option of moving from coaching to become “special assistant to the athletic director” and university representative. Should he make the move, his duties would include fund-raising and sustaining and/or increasing fan interest.
His annual pay would be a base salary of $400,000, plus an additional $550,000 for media and endorsement work.