First let’s talk about Cal coaching LaBron. In my opinion – it’s not going to happen in a NBA setting. Meaning I don’t think the time is right anymore for Cal and LaBron to join forces, other than maybe a team USA setting. Think about this – LaBron is the King of the NBA right now, and Calipari is arguably the King of the NCAA right now. Two Kings together would be hard to make work. Next is the factor that Labron probably has five more years, or so, to be a true dominate player in the league. He will always be a top player in the game, but eventually age catches up with anybody. Therefore it doesn’t leave much time for the new Cavaliers team to create much chemistry, and by the time they do, it could easily be 2 years down the road. Don’t get me wrong, the Cavs are going to be very good, but much like when the Big Three started their journey together, the chemistry didn’t start, in a championship matter, until about a season and a half of them playing together, and don’t forget the Big Three were veterans when they started their journey. LaBron and the new Cavs will depend on several youngsters, unless they sign Kevin Love, so you have to think that the chemistry class will be tough to pass for a couple of years. If that holds true, and you add the age theory of LaBron, at that point the Cavs have three years to grab as many titles as they can with LaBron at an age that his body can still take the abuse that it does.
With all the factors mentioned above, the possibility of Cal going to Cleveland is pretty slim. You can also throw in the factor that Calipari has an opportunity to do something in college basketball that hasn’t been done in a while. That factor is a great chance at winning several NCAA Championships and supply the NBA with more players than any other coach in the NCAA. If Cal stays for the duration of his coaching career those NBA player numbers could be off the charts. I think we all have heard Cal’s thoughts, on his players, enough to know that helping young kids fulfill their dreams is rewarding to Cal, and if he wins a few championships - while helping the youngsters reach their dreams – then that would be nice bonus.
So what would tempt Calipari to move onto the NBA? My personal thoughts are Anthony Davis, John Wall, or Demarcus Cousins. Here is my reason why. These three are the hottest former Kentucky players that are playing right now. These guys are on an All-Star level. Calipari has great relationships with all of his players, but these three stars are playing well enough that with the right pieces around them a championship could happen. These guys are young, and although they are stars of their team, Calipari coming aboard as their coach would allow Cal to continue his coaching style. That meaning Cal could be himself as a coach and these players have enough respect for Calipari to not let it effect their play, or status. When I say that I am regarding to the tough love coaching style that coach Cal has a reputation for. The good thing about all three of these players is their organizations aren’t in any position to replace their coaches. The Pelicans have improved since acquiring Antony Davis and their head coach – Monty Williams. John Wall and the Wizards had an excellent season last year and have had a great off-season of putting some more pieces together to improve their squad. Demarcus Cousins and the Kings have a new coach and set to improve as well. Money shouldn’t be much of factor because Kentucky can almost match any NBA team when it comes to paying Calipari. There are plenty of great former UK players that are playing very well right now, but the three players I mentioned are the ones that are very capable of putting their teams in a championship position within the next few years.
Another factor that would help Keep Calipari around is if the one year rule gets changed to a two year rule. All UK fans need to cheer for the Pelicans, the Wizards, and the Kings to do well and we won’t have to worry about these teams pursuing our coach.
Other former UK players that Calipari might be tempted to coach:
Eric Bledsoe - Suns
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist - Hornets
Brandon Knight - Bucks
Nerlens Noel - 76er's
These are guys that I could see possibly being put on a team and they are one of the pieces put around a star like LaBron, or Kevin Durant. If they were on a team with stars of a Durant/James caliber, then Cal could be tempted to take a job like that also.
Elaborating on the points I mentioned:
1) Calipari coaching LaBron could become a disaster to the relationship between the two. Let’s face it, not to take away from Eric Spoeltsta’s coaching, but the Heat were the Heat because of LaBron James. Don’t forget about James shoving Spoelstra in his first year when coming off the floor after Spoelstra softly gave James some – in the ear coaching – and it was obvious to the world that James didn’t like what Spoelstra had to say to him. Think about Cal and his coaching style, and granted some things would probably be handled differently compared to Cal’s normal/competitive style of coaching, but there is no way a leader, and a competitive coach - like Calipari, could hold in his emotions, or urge to lead, when in the heat of the moment. Combine the need to lead – of Calipari, and the need to lead – of Labron James, this could hender a great friendship. Therefore, the Calipari and James force, in my opinion, is unlikely to happen.
2) Now moving on to elaborate on coaching some of his former players of which have potential to lead, or be a big piece of a championship team. Anthony Davis is the obvious, former Calipari player, that comes to mind when thinking who has the likelihood to win a Championship very soon. This could only happen if the right pieces are put around Davis, but let me say this, it’s not going to be hard to find those pieces. Players in the NBA are more-than-willing to play with Davis. John Wall is another player to keep a watch on. His success last year puts him on the right track to a championship run. And then we have Demarus “Boogie” Cousins. Boogie, in my mind, will no doubt – at some point in his career, be a vital part of a championship caliber team. The question is … When. If it is two or three years from now then watch out, because Cal has a special place in his heart for Boogie, and he might jump to an opportunity to be a leading figure in Boogies life. After all these, All-Star type players, you have the others that I mentioned Eric Bledsoe, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Brandon Knight, and Nerlens Noel who all have the talents to be a primetime player for any championship team. These second tier of guys are guys that Cal has said he has really enjoyed coaching, and were guys that really took to Cals coaching and leadership, which in returned improved some of these guys to All-Star status in the NBA. However, Davis, Wall, and Cousins are the type of players that will win a championship for you, and Bledsoe, Kidd-Gilchrist, Knight, and Noel are the type that will provide great help to win a championship.
3) What will keep Cal around Lexington for the tenure of his coaching career? RETURNING PLAYERS! It is more than obvious already how Cal and the coaching staff feel a little more less-stress this summer. Reports are coming out left and right about the summer practices, and a high percentage of those reports discuss the ability of the coaching staff to stick to the plan, so-to-speak. The coaches aren’t having to teach the players how to do drills, or say – hey you have to go hard every play. Now they have actual returning players to lead the new players in these such situations which allows the coaching staff to actually coach a game plan for most of the practices. This year has been an unusual year having some important players to return and not head to the NBA, but that isn’t a guarantee for every year.
4) Point three leads us to the two year rule. If the two year rule comes in to effect - I am placing my bet on Calipari retiring from the University of Kentucky!
~ Scott Roach ~