Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari signed a historically large seven-year, $52 million extension to remain at his current post, and now it's clear what the competition for his services looked like. According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski and Brett Dawson, Calipari was "deep in discussions" with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who wanted him to join them as head coach and president.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert had offered Calipari a role that in terms of the leadership would have leapfrogged newly hired general manager David Griffin in authority. Gilbert offered Calipari a seven-year package worth $8 million per year, according to Yahoo! Sports.
ESPN's Marc Stein says the figure was even higher.
As we just discussed on @SportsCenter, I'm told money details in Cavs' pitch to John Calipari were closer to $80 million range over 10 years— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 9, 2014
In response, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski suggested the 10-year offer was a transition into the president's role, but the initial offer was seven years and $60 million.
Instead, Calipari decided to remain in the NCAA as the highest-paid coach after Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.
Now Cleveland must continue its head coaching search. Former NBA head coaches Alvin Gentry, Lionel Hollins and Vinny Del Negro have discussed the opening with the Cavaliers, and the team has also met with rising assistant Tyronn Lue. Gilbert also reportedly target college coaches Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan.
Time to leave?
Calipari has already accomplished quite a bit in college. He's won a title and proven to be the best recruiter in the nation. His jump from Memphis to Kentucky gave him some of the best administrative backing in college basketball, and the end to his success seems far from being over. And so with a brief and less-than-perfect NBA stint coaching the New Jersey Nets from 1996-99, it would make sense for Calipari to give the professional ranks another try.
Joining Cleveland would have been a fine situation. He would have been paid handsomely and given the final say on basketball decisions while working with the well-respected Griffin, who has proven to have the scouting chops at his previous gigs. Calipari was keen on working with talented point guard Kyrie Irving and also would have been able to mold this year's first overall draft pick.
It's nice to be king
According to the Yahoo! Sports report, Calipari would have leaned more toward leaving for the NBA if some of his returning players, namely guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison, had not decided to return to school for their sophomore seasons.
Even a competitor like Calipari won't take such a cozy position for granted. All the reasons that might make him feel like taking on a new challenge could also be reasons for him to remain in a comfy position at Kentucky. There's more stability, the same length on a contract and nearly as much money coming his way. He appreciates being on top, and that the Wildcats will be for some time to come.