DESTIN, Fla. — It’s long been a curiosity in NBA and college basketball circles: Does John Calipari want to try the pros again? Kentucky’s coach has also long played that down.
Now Calipari has seen Billy Donovan, his former counterpart at SEC rival Florida, get within a game of the NBA Finals in his first year. And Brad Stevens went from Butler to the Boston Celtics, where he’s also gotten rave reviews.
So, Calipari was asked on Wednesday, has that stoked his fires again to coach in the NBA.
“No,” said Calipari, who was the New Jersey Nets’ coach from 1996-99. “No. And you also know you’re one injury away from being fired. One thing. That’s how that league is.”
He pointed to Alabama coach Avery Johnson, who was NBA coach of the year, then was fired just over a year later.
“No, I’m happy at Kentucky,” Calipari said. “I’ve got enough of a challenge right there in doing what I’m trying to do, and keep this thing right where it is.”
When asked what he thought of the NBA playoffs, Calipari said he was “disappointed for Billy. When I saw what they did against San Antonio, I said: He’s gonna win the whole thing.”
Donovan did have two of the best players in the league, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but Donovan did a good job of lineups and other tactics, according to his former SEC rival.
“I thought he did a fabulous job,” Calipari said. “It was a great hire by Oklahoma City.”