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John Calipari denies interest in Pelicans job

Could Calipari and Anthony Davis be joining forces again?

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

The New Orleans Pelicans are looking for a new head coach, and so far the search includes all the names you might expect. The team is set to meet with Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry, and also reportedly has interest in Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, former Thunder coach Scott Brooks and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy.

Now the New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting a new name has let the franchise know he's interested in the job. That would be Kentucky coach John Calipari.

The Times-Picayune reports that money is the biggest issue between Calipari and the Pelicans at the moment. Calipari makes roughly $8 million annually and recently signed an extension that locks him in at Kentucky through 2022. New Orleans is reportedly willing to pay $4-5 million for a new head coach.

Calipari has already denied his interest in the job:

So, does this rumor pass the sniff test? Would Calipari really leave his kingdom in Lexington to join the Pelicans? Let's break it down.

Why it makes sense

Two words: Anthony Davis.

Davis spent one year with Calipari at Kentucky and led the Wildcats to a 38-2 season and the national championship. He just turned 22 years old and is on the verge of becoming the best player in the world. If Calipari would ever leave Lexington, the opportunity to coach Davis again would be a good reason to do it.

Davis is up for an early extension this summer, and the Pelicans obviously want to keep him around as long as possible. There might be some hesitation on Davis' end though to commit the next five years of his life to New Orleans. Would signing his college coach change his mind? Perhaps that would be enough for the Pelicans to give Cal the money he's looking for.

Why it doesn't make sense

For one: $3 million per year is a lot of money to make up. Only Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers are making more than what Calipari wants, and Rivers is also the team's GM. Calipari has certainly earned his money at Kentucky, but it would take a major financial commitment for any NBA team to match it.

From a practical perspective, would Calipari really want to leave the SEC for the Western Conference? For as good as Davis is, the Pelicans barely snuck into the playoffs as the No. 8, and that was during a season in which Kevin Durant missed the majority of the year. Kentucky runs college basketball, while the Pelicans have to fight for their lives just to make the postseason in the West.

Calipari has drawn NBA interest before, but he has always ended up back in Lexington. It seems like that's the safe bet yet again.


2/10. Davis is amazing, but we'll believe that Calipari is leaving Kentucky when it actually happens.