New York Knicks Reportedly Reached Out to John Calipari About Coaching Team

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2014

Kentucky head coach John Calipari watches his team during practice for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Friday, April 4, 2014, in Dallas. Kentucky plays Wisconsin on Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip

John Calipari rumors are the order of the day. Even ones that were non-starters before being reported. According to ESPN New York's Ian Begley, Calipari to the Knicks is one such rumor:

Back in February, Calipari was on the short list of names that the Knicks were expected to chase to replace Mike Woodson.  

In January, the Knicks, via a third party, reached out to Calipari to gauge his interest in coaching the Knicks next season, a league source familiar with the scenario told ESPN New York.

The league source says Calipari was intrigued by the possibility of coaching Carmelo Anthony.  

Begley goes on to note that "the conversations never went any further than a feeling out by a third party," so it's hard to know how much we should read into this in retrospect. It's even harder to say whether something could yet come to fruition at some point down the road.

With rumors of the Los Angeles Lakers pursuing Calipari having already been quashed, it seems at the moment that he will return to his Kentucky Wildcats next season.

That was certainly his position when speaking to ESPN's Jeannine Edwards, via 

Calipari, who on Monday night came up just short of winning his second title with the Wildcats, told Edwards there is no doubt he'll be back at Kentucky next season. 

"Absolutely. Well, you know, there's all kinds of things that could happen to me -- I'm going to get my hip replaced. But short of that," he said.

Calipari came to Kentucky in 2009 after a decade with the Memphis Tigers. 

Should be make the transition to the NBA, it wouldn't be his first, as he spent three seasons with the then-New Jersey Nets from 1996 to 1999.

Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel has argued that a return just isn't in Calipari's DNA, also noting that "Calipari's best chance to go to the NBA was with the Knicks thanks to his cozy relationship with CAA, but that disappeared when the team hired Phil Jackson as president last month."

The biggest takeaway from all this may have less to do with Calipari and more to do with the fact New York has been investigating coaching options since before the All-Star break. To whatever extent that's known to current head coach Mike Woodson, it can't be very reassuring.

It's also telling that the coach search predates the Knicks' newfound relationship with Phil Jackson. A change of direction appears to have been in the making for some time now.

Where that change ultimately leads remains an open question. In Jackson, the organization has a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, who wouldn't want to work with someone of his gravitas? On the other hand, some coaches might worry that Jackson would be the one pulling all the strings.

Either way, New York will almost certainly look to move quickly on the coaching front. It could prove instrumental to keeping franchise star Carmelo Anthony around. He's set to explore free agency this summer after a season in which his Knicks have struggled mightily.