Cleveland Cavaliers Eyed John Calipari Prior to Kentucky Deal

The Cleveland Cavaliers were reportedly eyeing Kentucky Wildcats head men's basketball coach John Calipari to be their head coach and president to the tune of a seven-year $60 million-plus deal before he signed his seven-year, $52.5 million extension with the Wildcats last week.

Jun 9 2014, 9:10pm CDT | by

Cleveland Cavaliers Eyed John Calipari Prior to Kentucky Deal
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John Calipari was a candidate to be president and head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers prior to signing his extension with the Kentucky Wildcats last week. 

This is what Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Brett Dawson touched on in their June 9 update

"Before finalizing a contract extension with the University of Kentucky last week, John Calipari had gone deep in discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a seven-year, $60 million-plus contract to become president and coach, sources told Yahoo! Sports. 

"Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had been persistent in his pursuit and kept returning to Calipari in an effort to deliver full control of basketball operations, sources said. 

"Gilbert and Calipari had discussed a package in the range of $8 million-plus a year, sources said, and it wasn't until midweek that Calipari finally rejected Cleveland and fully committed to his seven-year, $52 million extension at Kentucky. 

"If Calipari had gone to Cleveland, the plan would've been for new general manager David Griffin to work with Calipari in the front office, but he would've ceded final decisions on personnel matters to Calipari, sources said. 

"Beyond the considerable length of the proposed contract -- with an annual salary that would've moved Calipari among the highest-paid executives/coaches in the NBA -- Calipari had some intrigue with the infrastructure of the All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and the possibility of the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft. 

"Calipari has remained intrigued about a return to the NBA in the right situation, and it's unclear how well he believed he could've existed with Gilbert, a hands-on owner. 

"The Cavaliers have met with several candidates for the job, including Los Angeles Clippers assistants Alvin Gentry and Ty Lue, ex-Memphis (Grizzlies) coach Lionel Hollins and ex-Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. Cleveland has pursued Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Florida State's Billy Donovan in the process, too."  

On the other hand, ESPN pegged the Cavaliers' offer for Calipari at 10 years and $80 million: 

"NBA coaching sources have told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Cleveland Cavaliers' recent pitch to Kentucky coach John Calipari was a 10-year offer worth nearly $80 million and included the roles of coach and team president. 

"Kentucky on Thursday announced that Calipari has been signed to a new seven-year deal worth $52.5 million guaranteed. 

"Sources told ESPN's Andy Katz that Kentucky's new deal with Calipari was completed in April and that the Cavs' proposal was made within the past two weeks. 

"Sources told Stein that part of Cleveland's motivation to chase Calipari for its job was the belief that hiring Calipari -- who is well-known to be a good friend of LeBron James -- would greatly enhance its chances of convincing the NBA's best player to return to its home state in free agency this summer

"But Calipari, like UConn's Kevin Ollie before him, ultimately resisted Cleveland's overtures. 

"Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has been highly motivated to recruit a marquee coach to be the new face of the franchise, but Calipari and Ollie are off the market now thanks to the new contracts at their respective schools. Florida's Billy Donovan and Michigan State's Tom Izzo also rebuffed the Cavs during the current college basketball offseason."

Even though Calipari is no longer in the running, former Cleveland Cavalier Mark Price has emerged as another candidate to be the team's new head coach, per The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer. 

"Beloved former Cavaliers star Mark Price, now an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets, will interview for the Cavs head coaching position on Tuesday, three NBA sources told The Plain Dealer. 

"With the team's coaching search entering its fourth week since Mike Brown was fired on May 12, Price is believed to be the sixth candidate to formally interview with Cavs general manager David Griffin, joining (Chicago) Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin, Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and former NBA head coaches Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins and Vinny Del Negro. 

"None of the candidates has met with owner Dan Gilbert, and none has a second interview scheduled as of Monday evening, a source said, though Yahoo! reported that Gentry and Lue would be interviewed again. The Associated Press also reported Gentry would have a second interview.

"Price, 50, is one of the most popular players ever to play for the Cavs. Acquired from the Dallas Mavericks on draft day in 1986 for a second-round pick and other considerations, Price teamed with center Brad Daugherty during the most successful era in Cavs history until LeBron James arrived." 

Calipari has amassed a 597-177 (.771) win-loss record in the NCAA head coaching ranks in stints with the Massachusetts Minutemen, Memphis Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats, per Sports-Reference.com. 

 
 
 


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.

 

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